Moved Mountains

Banner - Mt Trio, Stirling Range National Park, Western Australia - (c) 2007

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Recycling my identity

I've been thinking and praying a lot about identity these last few weeks. Even blogged it a few times.

While I have been pondering identity in general terms - i.e. how do we, as followers of Jesus, draw our identity from him, & how badly has the church failed in leading it's people to do this well to this point in time - I've also found myself thinking about my own identity.

To be sure, in the past I have drawn my identity from many places - least of all from Jesus. As a small child I drew it from my family. As an older child, suffering regular physical and emotional abuse I began to draw my identity from my abusers rather than my family. I identified myself as worthless.

Later on I coupled my "worthless" identity with that of drug addict. The two went together well.

When I started studying media, and began working in commercial television I began to draw my identity from my industry. It was actually an industry that a lot of people seemed interested in (if only in a shallow way). While I was never famous myself I knew, and hung out and partied with people who were. I liked the way this kind of vicarious popularity worked. The worthlessness of my childhood had never really left me, I was still an addict, but this new identity - the broadcast media identity - was certainly the best so far.

Somewhere along the line though God started playing a more prominent part in my world. I didn't realise it at the time, but he was beginning to create for me an even newer identity. But it was going to take time.

After I met Alyssa and became a Christian I continued to struggle with identity. God didn't "zap" me in the way I was led to believe he would. The things that had been done to me as a child and my "worthless" identity still weighed on me and so I went about trying to make my life seem worthy through becoming "someone". Along the way I realised I wasn't bad at public speaking and began working on-air in TV and radio. This gave me some confidence and before long I was offered work by a large, high profile, international Christian ministry. I began speaking at conferences organised by them and, for a time, was regularly published in their internationally distributed magazine.

It felt like I was being given something I had never had before. But at the same time my understanding of my place in God's plan began to change. The life Jesus lived seemed to contrast completely with the kind of life I was seeking meaning from. In the end I turned down the position offered to me and began seeking a different way of living out my life before God.

My true identity in Christ was becoming clearer as I began to "emerge" from church traditions, past hurts and the sense that even among members of God's family I was never really welcome to be myself.

Today, I still struggle with feelings of worthlessness at times. There are times when I am depressed, and feel useless. But, as time goes on, I am feeling, less and less, that I need to draw my worth or purpose from the way other people see me or from the lack of interest shown by others in my life.

Not that long ago I thought worth came from publishing a book, or from having lots of visitors to my blog, or from being a requested public speaker. Now though, I don't have any of these things. Even though my life doesn't show any of the signs I previously associated with success - even with Christian success - I now know I am involved in something big and wonderful and incredibly low key, as I am involved everyday in the lives of people, forgotten by much of the church and society, but not by God. And just as they are not forgotten, I know, I am not forgotten either. That even in my unworthiness, God is still for me and I have Jesus Christ as the proof of this.

My identity now is that of a husband, a father, a friend, a pastor, and a missionary - all of which are influenced by the greater identity of Jesus Christ as I imperfectly seek to live out of all that I am learning of him and his Way, and to share the love he has shown me and my family, to others along the way.


upstream said...

good to read the honest story mate

Faithfulnathan said...

I can, like, totally relate...

Thanks 4 sharing

The Creature said...

Thanks guys, for taking the time to drop by and read it! :)

Anonymous said...

Yeah Mate... Amen to that...

Super Shane.