Identity Crisis

Sometimes my mind is in a completely different place than the rest of my body. I can be in a large room with tons of people or chatting in a corner with just a few but while I’m present, my mind is a million miles away. That basically sums up the past 72 hours of my life. And that is being modest. In reality, this behavior has become so rooted in my routine that it has begun to consume my life and attach itself to my personality.

Which is why sometimes I forget who I am. Which is the reason why when I begin to dread every buzz of my phone, which is generally attached to my hip, and I get sick at the thought of the 100 something emails I haven’t read yet, it’s time to re-evaluate.

Something’s gotta give.

Because at this point, I have lost my identity in the sea of notifications which bombard me every 2.3 seconds on the pocket-sized tech deck which travels with me everywhere and consumes so much of my attention.

Think about it. For the masses with smartphones, it is easy to get pulled into a sub-reality in which you know everything about everyone that you know (and don’t know but are somehow connected with in the world of social media). You know what your high school peers did last night, the funny thing your friend’s kid said at the breakfast table this morning, what some girl you don’t even know had for dinner, that a guy who you might have met at the conference last fall just broke up with his girlfriend and is heartbroken.

Even if you don’t scroll through a newsfeed with headlines from all of your social circles from a cell phone, if you found this blog, I am going to assume that you are connected to social media in some form or fashion.

We are so connected all of the time. Yet we are so detached. It’s a fascinating paradox and one that is probably the subject of many blog posts. But it isn’t the focus of this one. I’d prefer to argue not that we are so detached from each other, though I do believe that to be true, but that this culture of immediacy and “connectedness” actually leaves us very detached from ourselves.

Those who know me would almost instantly label me an extrovert. And I would tend to agree with them. But something very few people know is that I recharge when I am alone. I can go, go, go with people and feel like my tank is totally full, but when I finally withdraw and reflect, I realize how exhausted I am and somehow need to recover before the next string of social engagements.

Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, it is imperative that all of us spend some time alone at some point during our day to process, reflect, think, and pray. Because I would be willing to bet – though it would have to be something other than money – that most of our exhaustion, weariness, and frustration with our lives has to do with the fact that we aren’t resting, recouping, or evaluating ourselves and making adjustments and changes if we find that we are doing too much.

This is the part where you tell me that maybe a Facebook fast will cure me. That being “connected” is a choice, not an obligation. That maybe if I just did one thing at a time, I would feel better. But that is the deception at the heart of the issue. We think the resolution lies in our ability to deduce the problem, so we fix our eyes on the problem when we should instead be fixing our eyes on Christ, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who should be the Source of our identity.

I was majorly convicted this morning by a passage of Scripture referenced in the Biblestudy my women’s group just started. It’s about modern-day idols. False gods. And let me tell you, I have many of them. But if you skim over the rest of this post, please focus on this part because beyond our self-criticism, stress, and conviction, there is hope. 

The familiar passage which struck me in a fresh way today was 1 Peter 2:9-12 which reads:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.

I know it’s probably a familiar passage, so I don’t want to lose you here. There were four key phrases in verse 9 that really stuck out to me and offered me hope and peace in the midst of my frenzied identity crisis.

1. “chosen” – This word connotes that we are desired, loved, and treasured. We are wanted by somebody. And not just anybody, but a King, a Lord, a Savior.

2. “that you may proclaim” – Not only did God choose us – He has a purpose for our lives. A great purpose. This is a divine mission which promises great adventure and is seldom boring.

3. “called you out of darkness” – We have a past. For most of us, it is a deep, dark, ugly past which is shameful. The enemy will often bring up this past and try to point out weak spots in our armor, but we have been called out of this lifestyle of darkness. Into what? Get ready…

4. “marvelous light” – We have a future. A glorious future. One that has been prepared for us and bestowed upon us. We are not just called from, we are also called to. And I think we can all agree that “marvelous light” is a glorious future to be called into.

 All of the sudden, I remembered that my identity is not in any of the “things” or even any of the people in my life but in my Maker, the One who gave me life. And it’s cliche to say. That’s why I’m praying this truth does something to our hearts instead of just going into another dusty file cabinet in our minds. I am guilty of many charges of having the head knowledge but not absorbing truth in my heart and allowing it to change my behavior.

So where does that leave us?

I was confronted by a few of things today. For one, I have abandoned my first Love in service to idle idols in my life. Ones that cannot satisfy or nurture or comfort or love or provide like my Lord can. I was also confronted in my quest for an identity outside of Christ through my ceaseless distractions and fruitless pursuits. And finally, I was confronted by the truth that I am not stuck in my darkness but have been called to a glorious future in His marvelous light. That is truly something to celebrate.

So I want to know – what words or phrases stand out to you in these verses? Am I the only one who faces these identity crises or have you been there too?

We are called to community and accountability, so I would love to hear your thoughts, trials, triumphs, and ponderings.

May we take these truths to heart and not just stuff them away in our overstimulated minds. May His marvelous light chase out the darkness in our lives today and may we cling to those truths.