Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Our True Identity
Do we know the truth of who we really are? We must have a firm grasp of our true identity if we are to live our life fully because our purpose is intricately intertwined with our true identity.
Our faith teaches us that we are God's beloved sons and daughters by order of grace, but how many of us are living out this truth? I bet most of us fail constantly to claim this fact of who we are. It is a big challenge indeed to live up to the fact that we were created in the image and likeness of God (Imago Dei) because too many voices are contradicting us and telling us otherwise.
Whenever you introduce yourself to others, what do you tell them?
Henri Nouwen, a renowned Catholic priest, preacher, and writer, says there are three generalizations that we often use to base our identity:
1. I am what I do.
2. I am what others say about me.
3. I am what I have.
Quoting him further, he says:
"Quite often, a lot of your and my energy goes into "I am what I do," "I am what others say about me," "I am what I have." And you know, when that's the case, our life becomes a repetitive up and down motion. Because when people speak well about me and when I do good things and when I have a lot, I am quite up and excited. But when I start losing, when suddenly I find out that I can't do anything anymore, when I suddenly find out that people talk against me, when I find that I lose my friends, I might slip into depression and be very low. And before you realize it, you and I are on a zigzag. Up and down. And most of our work, our mental energy is an attempt to stay above the line, and we call that surviving. We want to hold on to our good name, hold on to some good work, hold on to our property, but we know that in the end there is the word that says, "We are going to die after all."
And you know, when you live this kind of life, with all these ups and downs, the end is death. And when you are dead, you're dead. Nobody talks about you anymore, you don't have anything anymore, you can't do anything anymore. You lose it all. And that little life of yours and mine has come to nothing. And what I want to say to you today is that this whole thing is wrong. That that is not who you are, and it is not who I am."
I will add the fourth one and many people believe in this lie - "I am my struggles."
Whenever I see gay men dress up like women and surrender their life to the gay lifestyle I feel sad because they were made to believe that their SSA (same-sex attraction) struggle is the way they should be, that they were "born that way". They say they are just being "true to themselves" and there's nothing they can do about it. "It's just who I am" they say. This is me. Or is it?
To dispute this big lie, let us go back to the most basic and fundamental truth of our being: God created each one of us in His own image and likeness.
Ah, how many times have you heard that Bible verse before, but have you taken the time to "feel" the truth of that statement? Have you allowed it to sink deep enough into your consciousness to allow it to take root?
Here is what I personally believe. Struggles do not define who you are because struggles can be overcome by the grace of God. Same-sex attraction is a struggle, a cross, that I have; it is not who I am. I am more than my struggles and I am destined for greater things beyond this life.
You have no idea how incredibly liberating that statement is for me. It sets the stage for me to reclaim my "true self" and reaffirm my masculinity. This is perhaps one of the biggest realizations that I have in my SSA journey. "I am not my struggle." - a very simple but powerfully affirming statement. "I am the beloved son of my Heavenly Father, created in His own image and likeness, endowed with great dignity, and an heir to His Kingdom."
Once we have that kind of realization, we can let go of the things, labels, and behaviors that do not conform with our new-found identity. For someone with SSA, that could mean you need not to wear girly clothes, act in effeminate ways, or be in emotionally dependent relationships with other men anymore. You are a son of God. You are already loved fully and unconditionally. Only Someone who created you out of His infinite wisdom and love can bestow upon you your truest identity and dignity as a person, as a man or woman of God. Outside of this, everything else is a false identity.
I know all these things are not easy. But here is another realization that I had lately: "The more we act in accordance with the "Imago Dei" (our image and likeness with God), the freer we become." This statement is so true my friend. The more we conform our life in accordance with God's law, the more our life becomes joyful, meaningful, and purposeful. This is authentic freedom. The sexual promiscuity and licentiousness that the gay life teaches us, while on the one hand is full of thrill, excitement, and allure, puts us in bondage to sin, addiction, debauchery, and moral degradation. It does not fill our deepest need and leaves us terribly empty and unfulfilled. Only God can satisfy our deepest longings and desires because we are made for Him and we will only find our true purpose nowhere else but in Him.
Now that we have re-affirmed our true identity, let us all strive to live up to this truth. Only in this way can we ever find lasting peace and deep serenity no matter what.