By Christian Korver
When many people hear the name “Korver,” they either think of basketball or church, and for good reason. I have three uncles and two cousins who are pastors, as well as a cousin in the NBA and a dad who coaches in college. I often feel pressure to live up to “the Korver name.” Living into who God created me to be rather than trying to live up to false expectations is an ongoing battle.
I grew up blessed with a strong Christian family spilling into me and my faith development. Healthy and holy habits were formed at a young age, such as going to church every Sunday, memorizing scripture before bed, and reading some form of devotional as a family every night after dinner. I was equipped with all sorts of knowledge, but it remained in my head for the longest time. Rather than living into the identity that God tailor-made for me, I instead was just trying to live “a good life,” living up to what I believed to be the expectations of others.
With a cousin in the NBA and a dad who coaches college basketball, I always felt the need to prove my worth on the basketball court. Pressure and jealousy weighed on me as I compare myself to the next guy. Rather than making basketball a game, enjoying it and then putting it away, my identity became associated with performance in the sport. A bad game – or even practice…. I mean come on, I’m talking ‘bout practice 😉 – could send me in a downward spiral for much longer than the duration of the competition. Although I loved the Lord, I was in the midst of an identity crisis. I knew that identity is to be found in Christ, but that was (and still is) a struggle as I tend to find value in performance and the opinions of others. Not only was I trying to prove myself as a basketball player, but I was trying to prove that I was worth something off the court through my on-court accolades.
“Identity determines destiny” is a line that my dad often used when I was younger. It was seared into my brain at a young age, but not until recently has it clicked. Many discussions with my dad but also a couple of my uncles really advanced my understanding of identity. God created each of His children in His image, in a unique and beautiful way, and if we search for our identity elsewhere, our world will be shaken. Recently John 8:36 hit me pretty hard, stating “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (NIV) While in California this summer, my grandpa challenged me to, thirty times each day, thank God for creating me exactly the way in which He created me. God does not create mistakes, and each of His children were created in a unique manner for a unique purpose. Celebrating the gifts that God gave each of us provides freedom to play our part in His salvation story with a joyful and peaceful spirit.
Although it remains a struggle today, I do recognize that I am not defined by my status as a college student, basketball player, my last name, or being a relative of an NBA player. And so rather than striving for the worldly definition of identity, I am invited to live into the gifts that God has given to me, embracing the unique person He created me to be.