A few years ago, I stumbled upon a video on Facebook titled “Who You Are: A Message to All Women,” which to date has over 2 million views on YouTube. Guys, don’t let the title fool you. Jon Jorgenson, the writer and speaker in this video, may be addressing women, but the message of identity that runs through it is as much for you as it is for me. Regardless of gender, we are all asking the same question: “Who am I?”
The first time I watched it—I’ve since watched it more than a dozen times—I remember an excitement and joy rising up in my heart. I’ve struggled my entire life with insecurities and thoughts of being unworthy of love—unworthy of the love of other people, but also of God’s love. Hearing Jon speak those truths, I started to believe how wrong I had been about myself. And more importantly, I was hearing how God felt about me, and it was much better than I had thought.
This week I had the opportunity to talk to Jon about his viral video, about identity, and about his relationship with Jesus. May you be just as encouraged as I was by his wisdom and insight.
Holly Hrywnak: Jon, can you tell our readers about your relationship with Jesus? When did it begin? How did it start? What’s the journey been like?
Jon Jorgenson: Mine is kind of the classic, cliché, Midwestern story. My introduction to Jesus came when I was 13 years old at a Christian summer camp. After that camp was over, I proceeded to go through high school professing to believe one thing, but living in a completely different way. Selfishness, lust and deceit ruled my teenage years. Then, after graduating high school, I was invited back to that camp as a counselor, where they asked me to give my testimony as a part of the salvation message. I knew I had two choices; I could lie and keep up this masquerade that I was this perfect Christian guy. Or I could tell the truth, that I was struggling, that I had darkness in my life, and that I wasn’t perfect. I chose to tell the truth, and in that moment I saw that being open and vulnerable was not a sign of weakness. It actually gave other people the strength to be open and vulnerable before each other and God as well. Since that day, my life has been in the sanctification process, and God continues to write my story and work on me daily.
HH: What led you to write “Who You Are: A Message to All Women”?
JJ: The piece originated in the summer of 2010 at the same summer camp I talked about earlier. It was used as an introduction to what we call “Purity Night” during which we talk about the importance of staying physically pure in dating relationships and so forth. I was given the task of giving a short message to center us on the topic. When I sat down to write the message, I knew I didn’t want to write something about “How far is too far?” in the physical sense. What I have learned through many struggles in this area, is that the issue of purity starts in the heart. If we live from a pure heart, then our actions can’t help but follow along. For me, the best way to cultivate a purified heart is to have an accurate picture of our identity in the eyes of God. When I had that realization, the two poems (one for men and one for women) basically wrote themselves. I think they attack the stereotypes that our culture tries to throw on both guys and girls and sheds light on the truth of who we are in God’s eyes. For three consecutive summers, the poems were just spoken aloud to a group of about 150 young teenagers at a camp. When we made the video we just wanted to give the campers a way to bring the poem home with them. We had no intention of it getting millions of views.
HH: If I could sum up your video in one word it would be “identity.” Identity is kind of a buzz word right now; why is it so important that we know who we are?
JJ: Because every action we take, everything we choose to do flows from the image we hold of ourselves. If we believe we are worthless, we will live into that perception. If we believe that we are loved and called and created with a purpose, we will begin to live into that. Our identity establishes our actions and the life we will live.
HH: In general, people tend to find their identity in a variety of areas (other than in who God says we are). Why do you think we do that?
JJ: I think that in such a media-centric culture, each and every one of us is faced with about a trillion messages a day telling us who we are and who we should be. With everyone and everything making so much noise, it’s hard to quiet things down long enough to hear the quiet whisper that God often speaks.
HH: How do we, in practical terms, quiet the lies that we hear (either verbally or internally) about ourselves?
JJ: I think the best way to quiet down the lying voices in our lives is to fill ourselves daily with the promises of God. I know it sounds cliché, but for me, reading my Bible every day is really important. Whenever God promises something or says something about how He sees us and relates to us, I circle it, memorize it and pray over it. If I have a soundtrack of His truth constantly playing in my head, it’s much harder for the lying voices to get any of my attention.
Who You Are: A Message To All Women
Who You Are: A Message To All Men
Jon is an actor, writer, and speaker currently performing in Mamma Mia on Broadway. Earlier this year Jon published his first book, Authentic Love: Everything I learned about Jesus I learned from a child. Jon is also the Creative Director of The Anima Series, a non-profit, online production company seeking to create inspiration, provide hope, and Glorify God. He currently lives in New York City. Find out more about Jon on his website (www.jonjorgensonblog.com)