Sunday, January 30, 2005


Thief of Identity

Damiano, having had enough of a life that has suddenly turned to pain and more pain, tells the archangel Raphael to take a hike and starts an invocation to Satan. I close the book, discouraged myself, but not discouraged enough to read beyond that point. A few minutes later the thought hits me that any time a person quits, even if they don't actively seek the devil, they're still playing his music. Quit. It's the language we've learned. The devil has stolen our identities as winners, as participants in life with God.

I've fought for most of my life to retain some sort of identity. People everywhere pick away at all of us, trying to redefine us into some standard idea. Mention something you've done and it will be immediately compared to something that happened in a movie or a TV show. Hundreds of politicians and sports stars, thousands of actors and for every one of them ten million wannabees trying to elbow their way into the limelight.

I fought, not to stand out, but to keep from being dissolved into the soup of modern society. And it all seems to have been for nought, just another way of singing the boring song Satan pounds into everyone from birth.

What is identity? What am I protecting? Self-image? It's a good question and I have no clear answers, just a strong feeling of danger whenever I'm with other people. What price acceptance by others? Dance to their tune, with perhaps a few safe grace notes added to the mix but be sure not to stand out too much or you'll be the one soldier who sticks his head out of the foxhole. Can you spell "target?" Everyone else unloads their insecurities on the one who took the risk. I chose to be alone so I wouldn't have to make that choice.

Community is a nice theory. Like a rope the group is supposed to be stronger than the individuals who make it up, but in my experience this is rare. What really happens is that the lowest person in the group pulls everyone else down to his level. Once the slide starts there seems to be no way to correct it.

Maybe one brave person can arrest the slide. Or perhaps it takes desperation. Lu gave an example of this in one of her recent Blog entries. Desperate, she took the first step. A very brave act, and it would up pulling everyone else in the Mosaic Nashville team up to a new level. Will they stay there? Depends on how hard they want to work, and if they can resist the nearly automatic tendency to pull back from such naked situations.

God encourages life on the edge. He says he'll catch me if I get knocked over or shot at. I trust him, yes, but I really don' t like even to think about pain. I tend to prefer numbness. God makes suggestions and I try to ignore him.

An unsaved person can ignore God for all of his life because love won't push beyond boundaries of free will. A follower of Jesus, however, once having made the commitment, is under different rules. God will push, prod, suggest, find any door available to bring new ideas to the fallen soul who's supposedly trying to find a higher plane. Guilt adds to the burden. I know what God has promised and don't like myself for being so resistant, like a child refusing to obey just because of, well, whatever reason children have for not doing what the parents know is best.

I guess I'm still looking for rules. God is far more accepting of me than I am. I keep trying to reduce my relationship with him to a list of events and actions: do these and you'll stay out of trouble. I think God might prefer that I get into trouble so that he can correct me. He can't teach me the real rules because I'm so taken up with observing my own so that he won't be upset with me. Another parent to keep out of my hair.

It's like mounting a guard on the vault of a bank. The guard fights and fights and after years is overrun. Looters gleefully get into the vault and then are disgusted to find it full of cheap furniture, cobwebs, dust and broken junk, the whole assemblage no different from what's in billions of other vaults. What's the real treasure?

Something nearly hidden. Something shy and fragile because it has learned how our culture treats delicate and subtle characters. They're expected to join the crash of barbarians, a herd of sturdy people running hell bent for election on a path one or two of them have chosen. What of the fragile ones? They have no home. I've seen them drop off the map repeatedly, some of them permanently. The strong look back and shrug their shoulders, then dash onward.

I really wonder if there's another way. God seems to think so, and he whispers to me in quiet moments. "Keep following me," he says. "I have your life in my hand." I trust him because he has demonstrated, many times, just how effectively he protects me. Trying to explain this to others is, however, another matter entirely.

This is written for you fragile ones, the people who always feel as if the world is rubbing their fur the wrong way. God loves us, too. If he wanted us to be like everyone else he'd have made everyone like that. Identity comes from God Himself, the same one who made every star in the sky. There are 100 billion of them in our galaxy, and each of them is unique. Made by God's hand.

Dear Lord of all of us,
please make me and anyone else you wanted this message to get to,
more able to follow you into whatever you have planned.
Help us not to be discouraged with the abrasive world we live in.
Please help us, especially me, to get to the point where we can thank you
for making us the way we are.
Is it even possible, Lord?
Pipe dream, I think,
but ideas are the forerunners of reality.
If you, Lord, can conceive it, you can do it.
All we have to do is keep following you, not people.
Thank you for giving us the chance to be whole,
and working to cure me of willful blindness.

2005 January 30

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