Have you ever said to yourself: “Yeah, but if people REALLY knew who I am, they wouldn’t like me so much”? I know I have, and so have many of my friends and people I’ve worked with on retreats. The statement implies that we hide our “true selves” in order to feel accepted and loved by others.
This is wrong on so many levels. First, we are told a multitude of lies in our society about who we are and who we “have to” be. The ultimate truth is that we are God’s beloved daughters/sons/children, in whom God is well pleased. We are loved wildly, passionately, and unendingly. God created us good! We are marvels of creation – imperfect of course, but that’s the point. God loves our imperfections. God loves us EXACTLY as we are, while always calling us on to be better. Imagine what would happen if each of us fully embraced that and lived as if it were indeed true!
Ah, there’s the rub. One of the most difficult tasks of life is consistently living out our personal identity as God’s beloved in this world. How can “who I am” be consistent with what I do and how I interact, and not get lost in society’s messages?
Two contrasting examples: Solomon got so comfortable with his kingship, wealth, and wives that he forgot, and acted contrary to, his primary identity as a faithful servant of Yahweh. However, the Syrophoenician woman who asked Jesus to heal her daughter knew who she was and confidently lived out that identity as a mother and a faith-filled believer. She didn’t let even Jesus turn her aside from what she knew was possible for God in her life. How difficult that must have been! What gave her the strength to claim her identity? That’s what I’m praying for this week.
Somewhere deep inside I know that I am God’s beloved child, that at my core I am radiant with the Spirit of love and life. Can I stay in touch with that part of me and know, truly know, who I am? Can I let God define my identity rather than other people whose images are often so flawed? Can I stay in touch with that core reality and then express it in my actions and relationships? Such challenging questions! Yet so necessary to ask and keep before us.
I pray that I can consistently act from the calm and certain assurance that God knows who I REALLY am and loves me completely. So, no matter what happens in this world, no matter the challenges and obstacles, no matter who offers me their love and who doesn’t, no matter whether I have a place at the head table or I am eating the scraps beneath it, I have my identity in God, who will never leave me alone. May I remain centered in that truth and always seek to act in concert with it.
Amy Florian is a teacher and consultant working in Chicago. For many years she has partnered with the Passionists. Visit Amy’s website: http://www.corgenius.com/.