Who Am I?

Happy Tuesday, friends! I hope your week is going well.

I wanted to share another amazing piece of poetry with you. This is  by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and was written while he was in prison. It was originally penned in German. I first read it in Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.

Who Am I?

Who am I? They often tell me

I stepped from my cell’s confinement

Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,

Like a squire from his country-house.

Who am I? They often tell me

I used to speak to my warders

Freely and friendly and clearly,

As thought it were mine to command.

Who am I? They also tell me

I bore the days of misfortune

Equally, smilingly, proudly,

Like one accustomed to win.


Am I then really all that which other men tell of?

Or am I only what I myself know of myself?

Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,

Struggling for breath, as though hands were

Compressing my throat,

Yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,

Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,

Tossing in expectation of great events,

Powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,

Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,

Faint, and ready to say farewell to it all?


Who am I? This or the other?

Am I one person today and tomorrow another?

Am I both at one? A hypocrite before others,

And before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?

Or is something within me still like a beaten army,

Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?

Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.

Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am Thine!

As I approach my 23rd birthday this week, my thoughts are somewhat reflective and introspective…I think sometimes while moving through life’s changing seasons and wearing the various “hats” of wife, mother, military spouse, seminary spouse, youth helper, student, friend, etc…it is easy to get a bit lost and at times I wonder “who am I, really?” I greatly appreciate the people who have spoken into my life, encouraging me and telling me the ways that they see God at work in me. And yet, I see myself completely differently and daily have a battle between spirit and flesh, new man and old. My own picture of myself is unrecognizable at times when compared with the image I portray, though not hypocritical by intent.

Bonhoeffer’s situation when writing “Who Am I?” was profoundly different from mine, and yet this piece is so beautiful and moving to me. I pray that my “bottom line” together with Bonhoeffer will be:

Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am Thine!

❤ jc


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