In today's reading, the priests and Levites asked John, "Who are you?" His reply was in the negative, clearly stating that he was not the Christ. I have been pondering over this question and his curious response for days, and it has not seemed to want to leave me.

Perhaps it is because if I am asked that same question, from casual conversation to a formal interview, I am not sure how I would respond. In four and a half decades, the answer to the question of who I am remains complicated.

Am I my gender, race, political and religious affiliations? Am I my birth order, my career title, my hobbies as photographer and writer? Am I my socioeconomic status, my Social Security number, my FICO score?

Five years ago, I identified with being unworthy of God's love and providence. Every reconciliation opportunity was further proof of how undeserving I was. I marinated in guilt and shame. I was crestfallen and arrogantly convinced that surely, God wanted nothing to do with me.

I existed this way for some time until I went to my desert and wrestled with my shadow side. I questioned the root of my beliefs which contributed to my identification of not being worthy. Where had it come from? Years of societal and familial conditioning and my insecurities led me to live apart of agape instead of living a part of it.

My testimony is this, dear friends: I am unworthy of God's love, and He consistently and tirelessly reminds me that His grace is sufficient for me. Do I live accordingly? No. Do I always believe this? No. I do know that it does not matter. Nothing can separate me from His love, not even if I tried.

Who are you?

Maria Padua