What determines a person’s unique identity? What is constant about him? What changes about him? Has he morphed to 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 this what integrity is? Who can hold their own amid the pressures of society, influential people, loved ones, or even the corrupted theologies of some churches, 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? Have we become stained and disfigured when we were meant to be perfect pearls?
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. If we truly want him to, 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, chains that don’t have to restrict us. We too often continue our old thinking. We go through the motions, unmindful. We fail to pause, question, ponder, 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 analytic, 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?
God 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 regardless, it’s illogical to believe he would forbid or reprimand us for being honest with him.
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 do you get it back? Can you get yourself back?
You can. If you’ve lost your identity, may God fill you with wisdom and courage for the cause of regaining it.
You must be wise if you’re in unsafe surroundings. Even then, your thoughts are yours and yours alone. Do what you must to stay safe, but don’t let your mind be stolen.
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.
May you have clarity, wisdom, and courage to reach safety. May you reach a haven where people are like God, where there is no rejection, where you are 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 role models living their callings. When you are able to express yourself consistent with your God-given, God-approved, true identity, you will not turn others off; you will draw others to you.
The power of evil to slowly, imperceptibly rob us of our identities is real in all settings. We are unlikely to be a threat to evil as long as we remain subjugated to ungodly people. Satan knows what he’s dealing with as long as we are predictable. He knows the rules of religions, the demands on underlings to conform. If we swallow the pill of mindless compliance, he is assured of our passivity. We will be passive to injustice. We won’t learn of our God-given rights. We won’t express our true personalities and develop our God-given insights, gifts, talents, and strengths. We won’t be capable of overcoming evil with good.
If you’re suppressed and your identity is muddled, let’s do something about it. Let’s flip-flop the situation, and free you to be capable of overcoming evil with good.
Pray. Expect and listen to the Holy Spirit’s 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 your independent thinking will break the rules? What rules? Whose rules?
Did Martin Luther King turn people off? Did Abraham Lincoln? What if they had been shortsighted, and given 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 — 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. Get past the forceful people 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.