Who am I?

Some individuals discern their totem animals. While I find my spiritual kinship with theologians that have gone before me.

I have a lengthy relationship with Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I picked up his biography from my mother’s bookshelf when I was 11 years old. 

Whenever  I read the following  poem, I get goosebumps. Someone else has experienced what I myself experience on this journey through life.

I may not have been literally imprisoned, but I have been metaphorically so. 

Not knowing whether or not my own freedom would return to me anew… trusting only in God every morning as I face the reality of my life here…. Being congratulated for the strength of my faith in God while feeling anything but worthy of praise. 

A poem, written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer from his prison cell, awaiting his execution:

Who am I? They often tell me,

I come out of my cell

Calmly, cheerfully, resolutely,

Like a lord from his palace.

Who am I? They often tell me,

I used to speak to my warders

Freely and friendly and clearly,

As though it were mine to command.

Who am I? They also tell me,

I carried the days of misfortune

Equably, smilingly, proudly,

like one who is used to winning.

Am I really then what others say of me?

Or am I only what I know of myself?

Restless, melancholic, and ill, like a caged bird,

Struggling for breath, as if hands clasped my throat,

Hungry for colors, for flowers, for the songs of birds,

Thirsty for friendly words and human kindness,

Shaking with anger at fate and at the smallest sickness,

Trembling for friends at an infinite distance,

Tired and empty at praying, at thinking, at doing,

Drained and ready to say goodbye to it all.

Who am I? This or the other?

Am I one person today and another tomorrow?

Am I both at once? In front of others, a hypocrite,

And to myself a contemptible, fretting weakling?

Or is something still in me like a battered army,

running in disorder from a victory already achieved?

Who am I? These lonely questions mock me.

Whoever I am, You know me, I am yours, O God.


5 thoughts on “Who am I?

  1. You were exposed so much earlier than I. I have not even been able to yet tap into our rich church history. I have so much to read, and learn. We are so phenomenally blessed that we have so much at our disposal. Thanks for sharing, Kristen.

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    1. Amen to that, Barbara! There is so much wisdom at our fingertips… if you are looking to delve into that history in depth, check out ccel.org. They offer free, online access to a plethora of Christian classics now in the public domain. It’s an amazing website!

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      1. Kristen, I have so many books to read. I have a couple of books from martyred missionaries that I haven’t even opened the package yet. I have heard of ccel.org. I’m currently reading about 4 books. I am hoping to finish the newest one. The second one is a re-read, and then 2 more. HELP!

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