Friday, January 06, 2006

Identity.

A conversation at work the other day got me thinking about something: identity. I won't go into the conversation at work, primarily because if I'm going to invest time writing about it, it should probably be in a context and format that will be usable there.

But I was thinking about our self-perception of our identity, and how it has such a big impact on what we do, what we think, who we are. If I am a big fan of a football team that lost this week, I am going to be grumpy. Why? Not just because I like them, but because "I am a USC fan." If I define who I am by the fact that I live in a nice big house in southern LA, my whole person might as well be blown away in Katrina's wake.

That's how ethnic conflict works, in large part, if I understand it. "I am a Hutu." That is the defining element about me that is more important than anything else in the world. Other possibilities? I am a Muslim. I am a Southerner. I am Presbyterian. I am a skier. I am a mother. I am single. I am an accountant. I am a duck.

Okay, hopefully none of you are thinking that last one.

The Bible has a lot to say about who we really are, and this is what the Christian ought to be consulting in order to develop his or her ultimate sense of identity. I don't care what others do or say, I am a child of God. I won't listen to what my emotions are telling me, because the truth is that I am hidden in the cleft of the Rock of Ages. I am a sinner saved by grace. I am bound through Christ to his body of believers.

And right now, I am going home! Have a nice weekend, friends!

2 comments:

Melodee said...

I thought a lot about this when I was in school. I noticed in my literature and grammar classes how much importance my female classmates and professors put on being women. They were extremely sensitive to "gender inequality" in language because their perspective was shaped by their identity as women first and foremost. It took me a while to understand what was going on, because I don't really think that way. I know I have my own identity issues - in fact, I think sometimes I am too much of an "American." (Or even, dare I say it, a "member of RMCC")

I desire, like you, to find my identity completely and solely in Christ. May He work it in us!

Rich Mattson said...

This reminds me of a scene from a popular novel (I'm reading) but don't recommend. The scene centers around the need for belonging and its driving us to do what we do. Don't we get so much of our identity from the need to belong? Let me paraphrase a few lines to illustrate:
"As soon as they sat down, Mimi lit up a cigarette to show that...she belonged! Bettina began moving her torso languidly to the reggae beat to show that...she belonged! Cigarette in one hand, Mimi brought her bottle of beer near her lips, looked at Charolette, and arched her eyebrows, pantomiming, 'Don't you want something to drink?' which really meant, 'Don't you want to belong?' Charolette shook her head no, and leaned forward with her forearms braced on the edge of the table, and looked right past Mimi at all the young bodies clumped together. Why? Belonging to--what? What was the point of this clump of humanity eagerly pressed agaisnt one another in a beaten-up place lke the I.M. on a Friday night? She immediately answered her own question with another, What if I were IN MY ROOM ALONE RIGHT NOW? She could FEEL it...sitting at her desk, staring out the window at the uplit library tower while LONELINESS scoured out all sembblance of hope, ambition, or simple planning....Did a single other student at Dupont feel as lonely as she had felt?"
Think how Christ so fully meets the need to belong!