My generation (dunno? some sector of the millennials) has found glory in identity politics. This is the idea that the basis of interaction, societal positioning, success, and everything etcetera is directly related to identity. Yada yada yada…wait
…this theory might’ve been onto something! Before it took a superficial turn. Identity in this worldview is measured only by outwardly identifying facts such as your gender, race/ethnicity, and sometimes disability–which I must note is often associated with physical disability. These surface-level identifiers are immediately realized because they are all part of the first impression. What’s funny about this is that we are also obsessed with neon hair colors, tattoos, piercings, and eccentric fashion. It’s all in the look, right? First impressions for life!
For example, me, I am a young Hispanic female with tattoos. I guess that’s where it stops and all of my life, the way people treat me, and my predicted success will be limited by those details. That’s all I am?
FALSE! I am not a driver’s license. I can be pointed out in a crowd by the photo on my license, the height/weight statistics and other physical identifiers. But that is not who I am. That is not my identity.
And I’m really sorry for the people who think they are only visual details. Or who think they will only go so far in life because the world receives their identity as a list of superficial details.
The reality is that we are looking at these things, yes, but we are more intelligent than to assume a person is made up only of an image. I’d like to think that we are more intelligent than that!? That we respond to people by their actions and their passions. That we characterize ourselves by the way we treat others, by the works we create, the wonders we pursue, by the lives we live and not by a flimsy fact sheet.
I’ll be honest, for a long time I did not know who I was and I was identifying falsely, too. I was blindly associating myself with my caricature rather than my character. My tattoos were an attempt to define myself from the outside in. I wanted to be artistic and hard, rather than embrace the spiritual me who is artsy and soft.
That’s what I think we struggle with as a “postmodern” society. Caricature definition versus character building. We are denying the real spiritual part of who we are in order to pursue an image. When things look bleak we mistakenly blame the physical identity. It’s because of I’m a woman or because I’m Latina.
That’s pretty superficial. We have to go further than that because we are actually not off-base in blaming the identity [note: sans physical]. The identity issue stems from the root of not being true to ourselves, our spirits.
A visiting pastor put it in good words, “You cannot be whoever you want to be, you can only be who God created you to be.”
Sometimes, we don’t want to be who God created us to be. Because He has “high expectations” (wonderful plans) for us in overcoming the temptations of the world and being His righteous servants.
Refusing to accept this can cause us to experience inner turmoil and blindness to the truth of who we are and what path we are to walk and what feats we are to accomplish. Maybe we’re unsuccessful right now because we have not been working hard or we are working hard on something God did not have planned for us. Maybe we feel unloved, not because of what we look like, but because we have a hard time loving the world the godly way. Maybe we feel judged by the world because we are judging ourselves against things that don’t matter.
Who you are matters. Matters to God. To you. To the world.
Yet, the world is not in fact responding to how we identify. The way we are responding to the world is who we are. It does not matter how the world receives us. How we receive the world tells us about who we are and whether our character is full of love, hate, beauty, or ugliness.
You are actually a child of God. And when that is embraced, when you love others, when you work diligently, when you observe righteousness, you are sure to transcend any driver’s license caricature. You are not the physical, you are the spiritual.
What God puts on your spirit is what you are to do. When you do that, you find out that there is no identity other than being God’s child.
I am God’s child who is mothering a baby, who enjoys artistic hobbies, who loves to serve food to others, who is volunteering in the community, who answers the phone whenever a friend need a shoulder, who greets strangers with a smile, who writes a blog and does so much more. I’m not sure what my future holds but I’m sure that these things matter more than the ethnicity box I check or the tattoos on my skin.
Moxie (noun): force of character, determination, or nerve.
This is my fourth installation for Moxie Monday. I started Harvesting Hope as a way to contrast life struggles to the more powerful hope. I’ve found courage in sharing my story (see my early posts) and want to keep that going by sparking the flame in others. These Monday posts are motivational in essence to start off a great week!