Allen Iverson and Identity

This past weekend I was reading a rather sad article in the Washington Post about one of the most prolific NBA point guards of all time, Allen Iverson. Now assuming you were familiar with the guy, hearing that name would probably bring to mind his trademark cornrows, extensive body art, a killer crossover dribble, and/or a rather comical tirade about practice. Unfortunately, the article was about none of those things. You see Iverson, who made over $150 million in his career is now broke. Alcoholism, expensive tastes, and an inability to say no to requests for money, dried up a financial reservoir that could have lasted generations. Instead, as the narrative we’re all too familiar with goes, there’s nothing left.

Allen Iverson Sixers
Allen Iverson during happier times

Now I realize the popular, knee-jerk reaction would be to jump down Iverson’s throat and I’m sure it’s warranted. But for some reason, I feel pity for him. Not because he lost so much money, but because he couldn’t fill a void. Nothing bought and no reputation or fame amounted to what he and so many other people are after, a sense of meaning, significance, and worth. Money and fame promise that, but unfortunately, they never truly deliver.

I got to thinking about my own life and while I haven’t accumulated the financial resources Iverson once did, I could see some similarities. Maybe my pity is the product of realizing those similarities, I’m not sure. At times I’ve found myself believing that something earthly would provide me with something I desperately wanted deep within my soul. I found myself demanding God to give it to me now because I thought it’s what I needed to have to feel significant or valuable. Perhaps you’re the same way.

What would the world look like if each of us already had the identity, the sense of meaning, and the worth we all thirsted for? What would happen to the narratives like the one Allen Iverson is living right now in that world? Seriously! I could easily envision a world where contentment is the norm rather than the exception. Words like deficit and scarcity might cease to exist.

I’ll leave you with that to chew on. Personally part of my faith journey has been coming to an belief and understanding that this identity has already been provided to me. (Spoiler alert: Read Romans 8) I’m yet not at the point where I totally sense, accept, and embrace this identity, but I’m getting there. Redefining the source of self-worth doesn’t happen overnight, but it can happen and that’s where I’m headed.

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