Last night messaging with a friend on Facebook, she asked the simple question “How are things with you?” and my response? “Another day, another identity crisis.”
Ya know, when you’re in junior high and high school (and for some even in college) and you try on personalities like you’re trying on shoes? You see how they fit and look and if they’re comfortable to wear every day and if they’re “you”. Punk. Goth. Grunge. Preppy. Jock. Smart. Trouble maker. Teacher’s pet. Labels and cliques and pigeon holes. And I’ve always found it funny how everyone wants to be unique yet ends up exactly alike. Let’s all be different together. Belonging and yet retaining individuality seem the unwritten goal for our wardrobe changes.
But I’m not 14 or 18 or 22. I’m almost 45. I wore the weird 80’s hair and trench coat and double pierced one ear (my own conservative form of punk perhaps?). I’ve been through the wardrobe changes of adolescence. In some ways I’m incredibly comfortable with who I am now. But why do I still wonder who that is and where I fit? I’m not talking about Who I belong to…I’m very clear on that. I know that I belong, body and soul, to my God and that my identity is in Him. Yet that still leaves me floundering at times. Yes I have the “Who am I in Christ” bookmark and I get it, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about still searching for purpose and meaning how it specifically applies to me and all God’s done and given and been in my life.
Over coffee the other day, Brad and I talked about whether how we live is honoring and what change it would take to live each moment with purpose. Basically trying to figure out what a life of devotion to God, for us, looks like.
You and I? We’re not always called to the same things. God doesn’t always tell us to minister to the same people in the same way. He doesn’t convict us all of the same sins at the same times or show us revelations about Himself in the same way. It’s frustrating isn’t it? Because we want people to get us and we want to get other people and we really want to be on the same page. But He’s not a cookie cutter God and He didn’t make us cookie cutter people. One of the biggest things I’ve learned walking this planet is that faith in God, true authentic real faith in God, can and does look different in each person.
I know as we walk this life’s road there are some universals He desires from us. But because He’s created us uniquely even those generals (like love, faith, hope, kindness, caring for the orphan, widow and poor, etc…) manifest differently in people and an act of devotion and obedience in one person may look trite, meaningless or silly to someone else.
I’m reading “Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light: The private writings of the Saint of Calcutta”. I’m not very far into it, but I love it. She absolutely loved God. She absolutely, single mindedly served Jesus with all her heart soul mind and strength. And yet, lived most of her spiritual life in what she described as “darkness”. She did not feel or sense God’s presence for most of her ministry. She desperately sought after and yearned for Him yet He eluded her. Um, ya. This doesn’t fit with our North American A + B= C theology. We want to do certain things–know God personally, read and follow the Bible, listen and obey Him, minister to others for Him, seek justice, pray –and then joy, inner peace and love along with His doting presence will abound. Now, those who worked with Mother Teresa did see joy, inner peace and love abound. But here’s the kicker: she didn’t see it or feel it. She didn’t write a “12 Steps to a Lifetime of Purpose Serving in the Slums” handbook or “How to Discern God’s Calling” best seller because, although she kept doing what she was called to do, she didn’t necessarily feel God’s pleasure. She didn’t get a pat on the back from God in the form of warm fuzzies or seeing Him in a sunset she felt was just for her. What she did receive was darkness. And through the years she came to understand that the darkness was, indeed a gift because it allowed her to share in Christ’s suffering. Um, ya. Again, not a popular notion, suffering for God.
I’ve known for a long time that A + B = C in faith isn’t’ true; Larry Crabb calls it the “Law of linearity” in his book The Pressures Off. There are no formulas for faith in God. And I’ve even understood that darkness (see The Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross) is a means of God’s grace. But knowing it and accepting the prolonged silence of God as a gift so we can share His suffering is, well, tiring. I guess that’s where my own lack of faith comes in. We all say faith isn’t based on feeling but fact and yet how many of us actually are asked to endure a lifetime of God’s silence? And how many, even when we are gifted with the grace of His actual presence still remain faithful when tough times come and life’s not fair?
there’s so much more here…but right now my little brain is tired…to be continued…
ok, I’m continuing already…
if it’s not an identity crisis what is it? It’s not a crisis of faith (although maybe a little).