I hate catching myself as a hypocrite. It happened just yesterday.
When Dana and I realized some time ago that the corporate world is really no place for either of us, and that we actually wanted to do some things in other parts of the real world – some things that actually had meaning – we had some very real decisions to make about bills and income.
The result is we honestly just kind of piece a living together in different opportunities we find. The more restrictive it is, the less likely it is we’ll consider it. It’s easier than it once was because our bills aren’t extraordinarily high. A few years ago the mere thought being labeled as anything other than the consummate professional would’ve appalled me. I’ve SO moved past it all. At least so I thought.
When Dana called me yesterday and asked my opinion about taking a one-day job where she’d pass out promotional materials for a new company at this Saturday’s Arkansas State – Missouri football game, my first reaction was telling her she didn’t have to do anything that menial. I processed it for a few moments and realized what I really meant was, “of course we shouldn’t do that, what on earth will the people think?”
Then I quickly remembered I, myself, had just come from mowing a neighbor’s yard for 40 bucks.
The identity double standard we can have is ridiculous. In Ecuador, we literally wouldn’t give something like this a second thought. And didn’t I just write last time about all the lessons I’d learned in putting my value in what I do? Two steps forward, one step back, eh?
A big part of the national discussion this year has focused on identity, symbolism and judgment. An olympic decathlon champion chronicles his struggle with gender identity and now wears lipstick and a dress. Another – the leader of an African-American interest group is outed as caucasian – and explains she’s a black person trapped in a white woman’s body. She’s actually lived a lie for years. And from stars and bars to rainbows, let’s not even talk about the identities we’ve placed in our flags.
Apparently, our identity means a lot to us. It clearly must represent something important.
When I studied mass communication in graduate school I completely loved the research of organizational behavior, especially as it relates to personality profiles – how we naturally behave, and how we adjust that behavior in different environments. What I learned about myself is that I’m actually quite good at being someone different when there’s a chance it will benefit my own self interest. For manipulative purposes, my subconscious will actually change the identity I project if I let it.
Keep in mind, I spent four years working for a member of congress, and another five years as a professional fundraiser. Both are areas where a chameleon can excel.
It’s one of the most revealing things I ever learned about myself, and is probably in the top three things that disgust me about myself most. It likely also has something to do with not always being comfortable in my own skin. I try to maintain a high awareness level about this tendency and sometimes, I actually have to guard against slipping into another persona, and work at just being who I am. Ugh.
I many ways, it’s what the world has trained us all to do, but it shouldn’t be that hard, and really it’s not.
Your identity can be like the way you perceive truth. It can be situational if that’s the way you make it. But when I write about “truth” these days, I’m not writing about “a” truth, I’m writing about “The” Truth. The Way. The Truth. The Life.
The Truth is that your identity isn’t situational at all. It’s as fixed as the North Star.
I like what this Rick Warren devotional says about embracing your identity in Christ:
“Your faith will grow stronger as you do this.
What that means is that you abandon any image of yourself that is not from God. You stop accepting what others have said about you, how they have labeled you, and how they have defined you.
You start believing what God says about you, that he is pleased with how he created you, and that HE defines you.
You’re not defined by your feelings. You’re not defined by the opinions of others or your circumstances. You’re not defined by your successes OR your failures. You’re not defined by the car you drive, or the money you make, or the house you say you own, but most likely, the bank really owns.”
The thing is, if you don’t know who you are, then you’re vulnerable to other people telling you who you are. But the concrete, solid Gospel TRUTH is that you are who God says you are, and no one else has a vote in the matter.
Have a great weekend and vaya con Dios for now.