Defining and Redefining

I have succeeded in finding 10,000 different versions of myself that do not work. 

Identity is the great American conundrum: Find out who you are. But How? Look inside. Certainly don't let anyone tell you who to be. If I don't know and I shouldn't ask, how do I find an answer? "If you have to ask, you'll never know," said Angelica to the bafflement of the other Rugrats. I believe she distilled our culture's advice for defining our identities.

This question buried me as soon as my abstract thinking emerged. A couple years of loneliness and self-deprecation were enough for me. Jesus stole my heart when He told me I could be imperfect and fully accepted. When you turn on the light, the bugs come. 

My English teacher surmised that I disliked "Catcher in the Rye" because I already knew who I was. I looked askance at that comment. I was already in a relationship with Jesus, but I had this sense that I was foolish for seeming like I "knew who I was" at age 15. 

Then my brilliant college professors taught me, in at least 5 different classes, about "identity foreclosure." The American Psychological Association calls this "premature commitment to an identity: the unquestioning acceptance by individuals (usually adolescents) of the role, values, and goals that others (e.g., parents, close friends, teachers, athletic coaches) have chosen for them." I thought they caught me. It seemed to me that they were saying I had failed to explore all the identities available to me by letting go of the search for myself in favor of the search for depth of knowledge of Jesus. My parents believed - obviously I was a mindless follower. So failure  took on inappropriate authority in my life again: failure to choose an awesome career I loved, failure to conceive spontaneously, failure to be the placid, earthy mom I imagined I would be, failure to keep my house sparkly clean and charming. Tip of the iceberg. These were all failures to carve out a strong, dazzling, unique identity on my own power. I wanted to prove that I had a valuable identity, since Jesus-follower was, apparently, not enough. 

This past year I failed again, more painfully than ever. It's one way to look at it: I had made a promise. I found that I couldn't keep it. There are lots of ways to looks at things. There are also lies. Something changed when I began to believe God's Word is actually true, holding authority over the word of man, the musings of social philosophers. I have been distracted long enough. I have been entangled by this confusion for too long. Following my heart as per the world's advice has only brought me anxiety and disappointment. "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?" Jeremiah 17:9 You mean my heart? Yes. And. Amen.

"Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting, You are God." Psalm 90:2 He made reality. Reality is God's perspective on things. "For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb." Psalm 139:13. In knitting the artist pays minute attention to each stitch. It's not like slapping up some paint. I imagine Him lining up my DNA strands and knitting them together. He who knows everything, has some things to say about who I am and who I am meant to be. In fact, His Words about me are abundant - a deep tranquil pool, its surface ripples gently,
dark blue and shining white like glass. Parched for true water, living, life-giving water, for just one moment I stand on the edge and thank Him just for the fact that He has something, anything to say to me about who I am, knowing that whatever He says, it is true.

No comments

Post a Comment