Identity and Purpose: Digging Deeper and Going Beyond

Though many said they would post, two brave Pax joined YHC for a cold, soggy morning launching Beyond from Flight Plan. Combined with the four runners for Flight Plan, we had seven in the Starbucks lot – the same number as at least three other AOs for the same morning, including TOMB (er, “The Only Monday Bootcamp,” aka Honey Badger), Quagmire (another Monday bootcamp) and the new and currently unnamed bootcamp in Lake Wylie.

After a quick comment about the disclaimer, an added disclaimer was given, noting that the conversation that was to come was my opinion, so take it as such. Everything that I was going to share comes from my processing of chats with various Pax over the past few months, and though it’s my reflections, I think they’re worth sharing. With that, we took off.

Mosey around some parking lots, add in knees to chest and toy soldiers, and come to a halt in front of the steps at TCBY. Quick comment on the first theme of the day: identity. Basically, as we are working out, think of how you would answer the question, “Who am I?”

Start with my current favorite “warmup,” the dip/crab cakes/Jack Webb combo. One dip to four crab cakes, increasing to 10:40. Fun times. Good morning shoulders.

We followed that with L-sit progressions while sharing the first part of the “message.” L-sit progressions:

  • Hands on step, heels on ground, keep six off the step but under shoulders
  • One leg up
  • Other leg up
  • Both legs up (true L sit). It should be noted that YHC has oddly long monkey arms while Wild Thing has surprisingly short arms. Cha Ching’s arms are normal length (but of monster strength).

There are a lot of ways to answer the question, “Who am I?” For me, the usual answer includes my hospital name, Luke. With F3, there’s my F3 moniker, Jedi (makes sense now that my hospital name is out there…we’re an original bunch). Beyond names, there are other ways to answer the question. I’m a husband, a son, a father, a brother. I’m a Christian. I’m a gymnast, and a champion gymnast at that, a diver, a cheerleader (that’s probably a more embarrassing reality). But I’ve also been branded weird, loser, and jerk, among others.

Mosey around some buildings and back around to the front of the white building that looks like it belongs in Savannah or New Orleans or somewhere that isn’t Fort Mill.

Beginning in the western corner (it feels like the southern corner, but it’s not), we will do 25 reps of the assigned exercise, move to the middle of the building, 5 burpees, move to the northern corner, 25 more reps of the exercise, then run upstairs and repeat the process going back, making 100 reps and 10 burpees per round.

Round 1: 25 monkey humpers and sneaky gorillas

Plank it up (with side planks and reverse plank for good measure) for more talk time.

I knew from the time I was 15 that I was going to be a missionary in Africa. I don’t really have a good explanation of how I knew, but I had no doubt that this was my call. And it became a driving focus in my life. Every decision I made was with this in mind. My college degree, followed by my master’s degree; my choice of church; my relationships – all guided by this commitment to missions. Everywhere I went, this became the primary way I introduced myself. In many ways, this became my identity.

Round 2: Carolina dry docks and bear crawls

Return for some table top yoga work – including wonky airplane – and more talk time.

Reality hit for me in 2014. We had been in Zambia for four years as missionaries. From an outsider’s perspective, things were going well. Our ministry was growing, we had great relationships with our Zambian neighbors. But I grew increasingly depressed, so much so that I went on medication to help manage. The meds helped a bit, but one day it was so bad I couldn’t get out of bed. I had lost all resolve to do, well, anything. After several hard conversations and a great deal of prayer, we made the decision to leave Zambia and return to the US, and it was the hardest decision I have ever made.

Now, it would be easy to look at it and think that we failed. The thing is, I never felt like a failure. Actually, it felt much worse than that. Leaving Zambia, to me, felt like I was losing my identity – losing myself. It was terrifying. What I knew to be true of me, how I had grown to define myself, was gone. The only way for me to answer the question, “Who am I?” at that point was, “I don’t know anymore.”

Round 3: squats and crab walks

Return for calf raises (so…many…calf raises) on the curb and still more talk time.

It took this time of feeling completely lost to realize and better understand something I had heard and “known” for years. My identity is not defined by what others say about me or what I do. A lot of us are pretty quick to agree there. But we live in a time where the concept of “self-identifying” is held as absolute truth, and for me, this would be a terrifying truth. I am the king of negative self-talk, and if I am responsible for defining my own identity, it would be a very, very dark place.

As someone who has placed his trust in Christ, my identity is bound to his identity. I am who God says that I am: loved, redeemed, adopted son of the Creator. It isn’t about who others say I am. It’s not about my relationships with other people, even my wife, my kids, my parents. It’s not about my job or my calling. These are all part of my story, but they do not define me. I keep thinking of Job who, in just the first chapter of the book of the same name, loses his livestock, his servants, and his children – all things we could use to define who we are. Yet after all that, he says

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)

If we define our identities by anything other than what God declares, we are tying ourselves to something that could ultimately be taken away. Who are we when we lose whatever it was we used to define ourselves?

So, how do you identify yourself? Who are you, deep down, under everything else?

Round 4: side straddle hops and jog (we were running short on time)

Return to stand around while I talked some more.

Now that my identity is not bound to what I do, to my relationships, to what I or others think, I can start to answer the question of purpose. This seems to come up in conversation a lot, though not necessarily in these words. We talk about being good husbands, fathers, co-workers. But, what is our purpose in this? Is it to just be good husbands, fathers, co-workers? Is it to honor those around us? What happens when we don’t do these things well?

Something I’m still working on, is seeing my purpose as bringing glory to God. I can do this by being a good husband, father, co-worker, friend, brother, son, etc. Having God’s glory as my purpose has drastically affected how I interact with the people around me, making me more mindful of every relationship. And I readily admit that I don’t do a good job all the time. I probably do a pretty bad job quite often. I’m a work in progress, but with a realization that my identity is secure and a purpose to bring God glory, I have confidence that, even on my bad days, it’s not the end.

Long mosey around the outside of the shops, past the library and roundabout to rejoin Flight Plan at COT.

Along the way, we processed some more, especially the concept of purpose. If our purpose is to glorify God, it can actually take our relationships even deeper. Take our wives, for example. If being a good husband is our purpose, that’s okay, but how much better will we treat her if our purpose is to glorify God through that relationship? Same with our kids, our friends, even strangers. Really, it changes everything.



  • Opportunity to triple down on your running (P200 prep, anyone) with Clydesdales and Run ‘n’ Run (formerly Run ‘n’ Gun, but there seems to be a lot of running lately) on Wednesday and Tempo or Laces Out on Thursday.
  • Some other stuff that was probably important.
  • Happy Hour on Tuesday, March 13.

Praises and Prayers

  • Backdraft’s son is super smart and got an award for being in the top 1% academically of all young football players (there’s some program he mentioned, but YHC played soccer)
  • Some other stuff. I’m usually better at remembering these things.

I know this was a super long backblast, but that seems to be the rule with these Beyond backblasts. T-claps to those who read through it. It was an honor to get to lead and share, even if it was a bit intimidating. Thanks to Maximus for the opportunity and the push, and big thanks to Cha Ching and Wild Thing for posting.

For those who missed (you know who you are), you can make it up next time. Different AO. Different day. Different workout. Different message. Same Jedi on Q.

Until then…

Jedi out.

TClap |

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