What makes an individual who he or she is? What is constant about him? What changes about him? Is he morphing under the climate, attitudes, perceptions and expectations of certain groups of people?
Most of us have experienced this morphing sometime in our life. We kick ourselves after allowing ourselves to take on the group attitude when a discussion erupted. We notice ourselves voicing or nodding agreement, when it’s not what we agree with at all. We vow to not let ourselves become what others have pegged us, then go to a gathering and act exactly how they expected. It’s a strange power.
Is it possible to be consistent in our identity? Is this what integrity is? Who can hold their own amid the pressures of society, aggressive people, loved ones, or in some cases, the conflicted theology of our church, and not flex so much that we sell our souls?
If we do compromise our integrity, is it worth it? Who gains from our loss? Often we morph to be agreeable, while the person or group demanding it takes. And takes. And takes. And takes some more. They aren’t appreciative or respectful of our sacrifice, only glad to have it go their way.
How far have we sold out our identities? Do we know anymore who we are, or who we would have been had we not morphed for others?
God offers to help us regain our intended identities. He will quarantine us (metaphorically or literally), to keep pressures to conform at bay. There he will educate how outside influences wrongfully shaped us, and restore the identities we lost.
But we must recognize the opportunity for restoration. It’s common for people to reject his intervention. We can be so indoctrinated that we remain bound to imaginary chains, chains that don’t have to restrict us. We too often go through the motions, not thinking. We fail to question, ponder, debate and resist the wrong beliefs we’ve adopted.
If we never ponder what others ponder, does that capture our attention? Are we often robotic, hollow, or “Stepford wife-ish” to others? Do we consider ourselves the ones to change, or do we stand firm as being “right”, and dismiss thinkers as “too analytic, too deep, too philosophical.” It saves a lot of time and energy to not think, but only in the short term. We waste immeasurable time and energy in the long term.
Who forces us to abandon our rights to think, resist, ponder, question, and struggle with concepts? Who has a right to do that? Does any individual or group (politically correct or not) have the right to take away our right to think?
God certainly doesn’t deny us that right. He grants us full freedom of will, thoughts, and actions. He encourages dialogue and honest expression of self. He knows our thoughts anyway. It’s illogical to believe he forbids or reprimands us for being honest with him.
Who are you? What do YOU think? What is your innate personality?
Are you afraid to show your true thoughts or true personality, convinced they are unacceptable in your sphere of society? Do you ever wonder why other people get away with authentic self-expression and have no repercussions for it? Have you noticed people like that get their freedom and groups tend to step back with respect to that person? Yet, the more compliant and agreeable you are, the more the group moves in closer and further restricts your rights and individuality. Give them an inch, and they take a mile.
When did it happen, this slow, subtle, giving way to group think? How can you get it back? CAN you get yourself back?
You can. If you feel you’ve lost your identity, may God fill you with wisdom and courage for the cause of regaining it.
Don’t fear being rejected if you express yourself consistent with your true self. Instead, prepare to be well-received. The world is thirsty for trustworthy, grounded independent thinking. Those who suffer under stifling demands to conform to their environment are losing hope. They need to see role models prove it is possible and right to think and act independently. Expressing yourself consistent with your God-given, God-approved, true identity will not turn others off, but will draw others to you.
The power of evil to slowly, imperceptibly rob you of your identity is real. You are unlikely to be a threat to evil as long as you remain subjugated to people unlike God. Satan knows what he’s dealing with as long as you are predictable. He knows the rules of religions, the demands on underlings to conform. If you swallow the pill of mindless compliance, he is assured of your passivity. You will be passive to injustice. You won’t learn of your God-given rights. You won’t express your true personality and develop your God-given insights, gifts, talents, and strengths. You won’t be capable of overcoming evil with good.
So let’s do something about it. Let’s flip-flop the situation, and free you to be capable of overcoming evil with good.
If you’ve lost your identity, pray. Expect and listen to his perfect counsel. Reflect. What is your true personality? Is it spirited? Is it strong? Does it debate with majority thinking? Does it fight against untruths? Does it seek ultimate harmony? Does it rise to defend victims? Does it rise to defend YOURSELF, if you are the victim?
Do you fear that an independent thinking person like this will be unacceptable and break the rules? WHAT RULES? WHO’S RULES?
Did Martin Luther King turn people off? Did Abraham Lincoln? What if they had been shortsighted, and gave up their right to think, debate, and resist common public opinion, because they feared being considered disruptive? So, they temporarily ruffled some feathers. They disturbed some people! So, who said we are born to make unrighteous people comfortable? Who created you for that destiny?
Where is the person God created you to be? You can throw off every demand and expectation that hinders, and be that person.
Will you be accepted? Were Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln accepted?
Look beyond the nearest faces of disapproval as you defy their unrighteousness, and look to the purpose and goals for which Christ calls you. Plenty of people will accept you. Get past the forceful people who are always in your face spouting their policies, and discover it’s very different away from those people. There IS a world beyond your immediate world. Just beyond the few disapproving faces is a world of people who will accept you.
Be bold. Be strong. Be wise. When you are acceptable to God, you are also acceptable to a whole lot of people.
2 Corinthians 10:18 (NIV) - For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.