Identity, Community, & Truth

Paul Young says it is a good thing to aim for the way of our being to match the truth of our being. I love how he puts that. And I totally agree.

Going through this “already included” journey has led to so much of what I thought was me and my identity being peeled off and away for good. There are the stereotypical superficial things such as status, wealth, intelligence, etc. But lately a new deeper layer has been revealed: where I have based my identity on who and where I belong to.

Remember, there is no condemnation. I think most of us have a natural healthy desire to belong somewhere and to someone. But desire isn’t exactly the same as identity. Have you allowed who and where you belong to define who and what you are?

The easy answer is ‘no’ and move on. I would have said likewise in the past. But as all of my life gets turned upside down and shaken out, as all my relationships change, as my community changes, I can assure you the subconscious connections to our identity are more powerful than at least I suspected.

I heard Paul Young talk about being a third-culture kid and how that has impacted his struggles with identity. I can relate in a way. I did not grow up in the culture of my grandparents or parents. We moved almost every two to four years when I was younger. A military base is what feels more like home than anything to me. On a greater scale, I’d have to say Texas feels like home. And then of course on an even greater scale, the United States.

Besides that, my church communities and certain individuals have provided my only other senses of belonging. So no wonder the difficulty and great grief in gifting myself space when seasons end.

When you are a person who doesn’t have a home base, per se, you become adept at acclimating to each new situation. This is probably more subconscious than anything. It’s pretty natural to try to get in where you fit in. To feel out the group dynamics, try on what works, and disgard what doesn’t. This is all very innocent.

But the danger in my experience is when your options are few and a certain group holds what feels like all the social, emotional, economic, etc power. Then there is SUCH real pressure to go with the flow. To go against the grain is to risk losing everything.

We were created for relationship. This is even more clear after embracing this “already included” message. So it feels counter-intuitive to buck the systems – especially of mostly well-meaning people. At what point do we make that call?

Everything used to be so black and white to me before. Or at least I tried to make sense of it that way. After encountering this “already included” knowledge, God is teaching me rather to embrace impermanance and uncertainty. God is teaching me that my identity is not tied to belonging to a particular person or group. I am a citizen of the universe. I belong to God. And real recognize real.

This brings enormous freedom, but can also feel incredibly unnerving. There is no checking out in this new life; it requires being completely present in each moment with each person. Our brains are accustomed to categorizing in order to work more efficiently, but this new-to-me way has no boxes to put people in.

Every moment is a new beginning in a way. And yet also an ending. Even our cells are continually dying and being reproduced over and over. We are constantly being renewed. So the person you knew seven years ago may actually in many ways be a different person today.

This is where going with the flow and being on auto-pilot can cause problems. You may have been operating under an initial premise while the rules of the game may have slowly changed while you had your guard down. You might wake up one day and find yourself caught up. “How did I get here?”

At what point do we trade truth for community and belonging?

Maybe we don’t have to trade truth for community. Maybe there is a whole big wide world out there. Full of people, full of God’s kids. Maybe there is someone new who is looking for us while we are looking for them. Maybe people who are even better suited for our next season. Accepting that things can and probably will change. Maybe even from moment to moment.

Again, do we rest in God? Or do we trust in the environmental comfort and certainty we crave? Is being ok right now enough? Or do we insist on dictating to God what is best for our future?

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