I am a perpetual student. I love to learn, and I spent seven years in higher education earning undergraduate and graduate level degrees. Even though I am not currently in a degree program, I continue to read, study, learn and discover new tidbits each and every day. But there was one thing that I couldn’t stand about both of my degree programs.
As an introvert, I was exhausted after spending so much time interacting with so many new people during orientation. I met countless new people and heard so many exciting stories during orientation that my head was spinning. But, that wasn’t the problem I had with it. My problem was that every single person I met asked me the same question: Where are you from?
I never could figure out how to answer that question without telling my entire life story to the person who had asked it. Now, in my early thirties, I have lived in seven different states, called at least thirteen different places “home,” attended more schools than I can remember, spent time both in the majority and in the minority, and learned different cultural expressions and values everywhere I’ve lived. The answer to Where are you from? was not one that I could sum up by providing a single location, or by giving an address. If I had answered that question from my heart, I would have said, “I don’t know.”
If you had told me ten years ago that I would find myself as a contributing blogger on That Reformed Blog, I would not have believed it. My theological journey has been much like my journey across the United States. I have spent time in an Episcopal church, a Disciples of Christ church, a Baptist church, a non-denominational church, and now the Reformed Church in America. When you are a nomad, you do not always have the luxury of choosing a church from your preferred denomination. Instead, you may find yourself setting down roots in a tradition that is completely different from anything you had ever known before. The difficulty in that is that finding my theological identity has been like a wrestling match. The benefit is that I have learned that each tradition, each location, each new group of people has something profound to teach me. My job is to learn, to grow, and to become more fully who I was created to be. Sometimes that involves challenging other people to look at things in a different way. Sometimes it means challenging myself to see things with new eyes. Either way, it means growth, change and discovery.
As I have journeyed into the reformed tradition, and have begun to discover what reformed theology is all about, I have come to realize something deeper about myself. My identity is not the compilation of my life experiences. I am not, as Wayne Dyer once suggested we all are, “a sum total of the choices we have made.” I am not my career, my degrees, my hobbies. My truest identity, the core of who I am, is my identity in baptism – my union with Christ, and my place as a member of the family of God.
In the liturgy for baptism in the Reformed Church in America, we find this amazing prayer:
PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
We give you thanks, O holy and gracious God,
for the gift of water.
In the beginning of creation your Spirit moved over the waters.
In the waters of the flood you destroyed evil.
You led the children of Israel through the sea
into the freedom of the promised land.
In the river Jordan, John baptized our Lord
and your Spirit anointed him.
By his death and resurrection Jesus Christ, the Living Water,
frees us from sin and death and opens the way to life everlasting.
We thank you, O God, for the gift of baptism.
In this water you confirm to us
that we are buried with Christ in his death,
raised to share in his resurrection,
and are being renewed by the Holy Spirit.
Pour out on us your Holy Spirit, so that those here baptized may be washed clean and receive new life.
To you be all honor and glory, dominion and power,
now and forever, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen 
In baptism it is confirmed to us that we are buried with Christ. It is confirmed. It’s not an identity we have created, nor is baptism an act where we somehow get God to do what we want God to do. Baptism is a confirmation of work that God has already begun through the Holy Spirit. Our identity in baptism is who we are at the most basic level. It does not matter if we were raised in Wyoming or in Turkey; when we belong to Christ, that is the core of our identity.
I may be a bit of a nomad in this world, and my theological journey may look more like a series of switchbacks and hair-pin turns along a zig-zagging mountain road, but my identity isn’t found in the way I answer Where are you from? My identity is in Christ, the One who was there before the foundation of the world. In the words of a well-loved hymn: “On Christ the solid rock I stand; All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand.” 
Grace and peace to you, no matter where you’re from,
April Fiet is ordained in the Reformed Church in America and serves as co-pastor of a congregation in rural Iowa alongside her husband. April has too many hobbies (from crocheting pretty much anything and baking bread, to running 5K races), and she enjoys watching her two young children grow and learn about the world.
 The Solid Rock, Words: Edward Mote, 1834, Music: William B. Bradbury, 1863.