Last week I talked about authenticity. So, who am I, really? Am I gloriously authentic?
The End of Memory
In his book, The End of Memory, theologian Miroslav Volf examines how we truthfully remember wrongs suffered, and why it’s important.
In Chapter Six: Memory, the Exodus, and the Passion; in which he further discusses the results of healed memories, Mr. Volf states that God based Israel’s motivation to follow His commands concerning how to treat slaves and other vulnerable people – fellow Israelites and aliens – on how the Israelites were oppressed as slaves in Egypt, and on how they were delivered. He expected His people to care for others as He cared for them.
Grace expressed in redemption from slavery was Israel’s national identity.
“For the nation to fail to imitate God would not simply be to disregard wise counsel or disobey a moral command but, in a sense, to betray themselves, no less than the redeeming God, by living in contradiction to their true identity” (p 105).
Their true identity. Hmm…
Who am I?
My true identity is also that of one redeemed from slavery; an act of grace undergirds all I truly am.
Sometimes it seems too difficult to do what I’m supposed to do, to do what is right, to follow God’s commands that go against my natural inclinations.
Because that’s who I am, right? I’ve had to admit some ugly realities about myself. I’m selfish and self-centered. I have pet sins I rationalize and to which I too easily fall victim. So, that’s me, right? All that stuff, it’s who I am.
Yes! And no.
I need to be aware of my weaknesses. We’re warned to not become stumbling blocks for others; we also need to avoid our own stumbling blocks. I need to admit when what I’m doing, or saying, or THINKING isn’t God-honoring so I can repent and move on. So I can stop acting in contradiction to my true identity, and be me.
Sin may come naturally, but it no longer defines me. It can only change my appearance when I let it. Who I AM is a daughter of God the King.
Try harder is typically a phrase to avoid when it comes to our walk of faith. It is by grace that I am redeemed. I couldn’t earn it. There is nothing I could ever do to make me worthy of what I received.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t make an effort. In fact, making an effort is the only reasonable response.
When I forget who I am, I make short-sighted choices. I want to feel good, to feel better, now. I’m still living consequences of patterns of sin I thought I was getting away with in the past. It’s a hard truth, but there is no sin we commit that harms only us. I must take responsibility for my choices, my failures, and my health – spiritual, mental, emotional, physical.
Why would I want to live anything less than who I am?
My Broken Brain
I’m learning that mental illness is not the part of me that is less-than. It’s a predisposition, exacerbated by experience. It’s a glitch in my brain.
It’s not sin.
I sin when I don’t do what I should to give my brain the best chance… ouch. I sin when I let my brokenness be bigger than my God. I sin when I don’t let God be strong in my weakness.
Sin can make my depression and anxiety worse, and symptoms of my mental illness tempt me to sin, but mental illness is not sin. (My friend Sara, The Messy Mrs., has a great argument for not calling it mentally ill but mentally different; I’m owning the term mentally ill to fight the stigma in my way, but you should check out what she has to say).
We need to stop comparing ourselves to others. There will always be someone smarter, faster, better-looking, more whatever-attribute-we-value. But it’s not those things God looks at. He looks at our heart.
None of us is inadequate for what God calls us to do. We can’t do it in our own strength, but we’re perfectly designed for what He would have us do.
When we want to be all that we’re created to be, it’s the state of our heart that matters. Do we long for God, or lesser things? Do we pursue holiness or happiness? Do we choose obedience to God or pleasing ourselves?
We all have things that can make us feel less-than when we let them, but we were uniquely created to fulfill God’s purpose. It’s not physical, emotional, or mental differences in betrayal of our true identity, it’s sin.
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