What determines a person’s unique identity? 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 taking on the group attitude when a discussion erupted. We voice or nod 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 as they expected. It’s a strange power.
Is it possible to be consistent in our identity? Is that what integrity is? Who can hold their own amid the pressures of society, influential people, loved ones, the blitz of heated opinions in an election year, or in some cases the conflicted theology of a church, and not flex so much that we sell our souls?
When we compromise our integrity, is it worth it? Who gains from our loss? Often we morph to be agreeable, and 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, then educate how the outside influences wrongfully shaped us. He will restore the identities we lost. But we must recognize our opportunity for restoration — it’s common for people to reject his intervention. We can be so indoctrinated that we remain bound to imaginary chains, needlessly restricted. We too often continue our old thinking. We go through the motions, unmindful. We fail to pause, question, contemplate, debate, and resist our status quo.
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 analytical, too deep, too philosophical”? Sure, it saves time and energy to continue as is, but only for the short term — in the long run, our failure to alter our thinking wastes immeasurable time.
Consider this: Are there people in your life denying your right to pause, think, resist, ponder, question, and struggle with concepts? Who has a right to do that? Should any individual or group claim sovereignty over your mind?
Our counselor doesn’t operate that way. He grants us full freedom of will. He is an educator, not a manipulator. He engages in healthy relationships, offering ideas, not imposing them. He encourages dialogue and honest expression of self. He knows our thoughts anyway, it’s illogical to believe he would forbid or reprimand us for being honest with him.
So let me ask:
Who are you? What do you think? What is your innate personality? Are you afraid to express your honest thoughts or true personality, convinced they are unacceptable in your sphere of society?
Do you ever wonder why some 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’ve lost your identity, may you be filled with wisdom and courage for the cause of retrieving it. You must be wise if you’re in unsafe surroundings; even then, your thoughts are yours and yours alone.
Matthew 7:6 – “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
Do what you must, but don’t let your soul and spirit be trampled — be discriminant of who you throw the pearl of you to. May you have clarity, wisdom, and courage to reach safety. May you find a haven where people are like God, where there is no rejection, where you are respected and free to express yourself honestly.
When you do, be prepared to be well-received. The world is thirsty for trustworthy, grounded, independent thinking. Those who suffer under stifling demands to conform to their unrighteous environments are losing hope — they need to see confident, caring people living freely and without limits. Trust that when you become able to express yourself consistent with your God-given, God-approved, true identity, you will certainly not turn others off, but will instead draw others to you.
Sing for joy, you heavens, for the LORD has done this; shout aloud, you earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the LORD has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel. – Isaiah 44:23