I watched recently as several people I respect, my friends Emily, Rachel and Sarah, were criticized for some things they wrote. They wrote about how certain parts of our church culture have done a good job of forcing a negative identity on many people within the church community, an identity based around past actions and missteps.
Our society is all about identity, isn’t it? How do we define others?
Black. White. Hispanic.
Catholic. Protestant. Muslim. Jew. Atheist.
These are the identities we fight over, we kill over. We have built up walls to keep us away from the people that are different than us.
My friends Emily, Rachel, and Sarah were onto something, something that got missed by nitpickers looking for them to make a mistake.
Our identity is not in those things I listed above, or all of the other ways we try to prove we are better than somebody else.
Emily said simply: “I am a human. I am Emily.”
She’s right. First and foremost, we are somebody. Don’t let somebody else dictate your identity. There are plenty of things that are true about each one of us. There are plenty that aren’t.
As kids we are told that one day we will grow up and “make a name for ourselves.” Let me remind you, you have a name. You have an identity. Claim it. Grow it. Let it flourish.
Some of us, people like me, find our identity rooted in our faith. For me, that’s a must. But that doesn’t replace what I believe to be my created humanity. I am created for something, and I’m striving after it.
I’m still human. And I’m still Dean.
And I’m going to embrace your humanity too.
Photo used under Creative Commons license and originally from D Sharon Pruitt.