What exactly is identity? According to freedictionary.com, it is the collective aspect of the set of characteristics by which a thing is recognized or known; a set of behaviors or characteristics that makes one recognized as a member of a group; a distinct personality of an individual ; the quality or condition of being the same as something else. The other dictionaries had pretty similar definitions.
Those who are reading this for example would all fit into the category identified as human because we meet certain similar criteria. Some of us female, others male as defined by certain characteristics. Because every human is conceived and born of a mother and a father, we are classified as either son or daughter according to our gender regardless of their continued presence in our lives. Further, each of us can also be classified as individuals because every one of us is unique and different. Even in a family unit where there are great similarities, there are also distinct differences that make us uniquely who we are. We are shaped and influenced by our genetics, by our environment, by our education, our relatives and friends, by our experiences in life and by our beliefs.
When we take on certain titles or positions we also adapt and our identity is influenced by this new aspect in our life. For example, when we become a Christian, a Christ-follower if you will there is a shift in our belief system. With that shift begins a remarkable shift in our identity, however how much of that shift is actually realized in our lives is up to us.
Many of us are introduced to the person of God through fear of punishment and see Him as just waiting and watching in the big unknown to catch us misbehaving or doing something He doesn’t approve of us doing. Most of us are not introduced first to Him as the Self-Existent Creator of life; or as a great and wonderful Creator and Artist that placed the stars above and the earth below. Is our first experience in knowing of God that He spoke and hundreds of thousands of species from the smallest microscopic cell or germ to the grandest majestic mountain was formed? Sadly, not generally is this ever instilled in us as our first impression. Yet, is it easier to believe that everything we see all around us just happened, sprung up from nothing? I personally find that difficult to believe, it is much easier for me to believe
God spoke it into being and when it was done, he lovingly created man to share the great beauty with then seeing man without anyone like him decided to form woman as a companion to man.
Having said this, I often wonder why most of us are introduced first to God as a heavy handed Father just waiting for us to mess up. Why this view of God is the most prevalent has puzzled me for a long time. I am sure there are many theories we could come up with but rather than speculate endlessly, I would like to continue to look at discovering a more accurate and diverse concept of the character of the God I love and serve. Those possibilities are endless for He is infinite! Though I have spent my lifetime in this pursuit, I have but yet to barely scratch the surface! This I do know, when the Word of God speaks of fear of The Lord, it means a healthy respect; honor; reverence; and yes it also implies obedience.
Obedience, there is a word that throws up defences and rattles us. Have you ever noticed even with a young child just beginning to crawl the independent spirit begins to arise. It gradually intensifies as they become proficient at crawling. They want to go where they want to go and do not enjoy us setting boundaries or redirecting them from obstacles that might be harmful. Then as they grow stronger and begin to walk, it’s on! Every step of our growth in childhood makes us more and more independent. Nevertheless, we must have boundaries and if we are blessed as we grow more, we learn to impose healthy boundaries for ourselves, not only for our protection but to keep us in line and respectful of those all around us. I personally believe in hindsight that this is the ideal way to parent and it is how our loving Heavenly Father has designed in His Word that we grow and mature in our lives. It involves moving from dependence on our parents, growing into a place we can be interdependent. As we mature, we strive to reach a place that we are able to take care of ourselves. Is that fully reaching the goal? Being independent? I believe not. I am convinced the goal of a mature life is interdependence. There are seasons in our life like childhood, and in times of illness when we are completely dependant on someone. Most of our lives are spent in various states of interdependence but never have I met one who is truly independent or in other words does not need anyone for anything. That concept is a mirage, it is not possible.
Just as we want to love and protect our little one as they grow and mature into childhood, adolescence and adulthood, our Heavenly Father who loving created each of us desires that and more for His children! The biggest difference is His ways are higher than ours as are His thoughts. He sees the bigger picture and all the possible outcomes if He doesn’t limit or guide us through life by setting standards and boundaries. Here is a practical example: how many children have at some point taken off running paying no attention where they were headed? As a parent or adult in charge, you know the danger of them running out into the street and getting hit by a vehicle weighting anywhere from a thousand pounds up to tens of thousands of pounds of metal, as an adult you see the hidden dangers of them running and falling into a pool resulting at worst in drowning because they can’t swim or even getting just a bit farther away and finding themselves lost in a crowd or kidnapped by a stranger. The one under our care sees us as limiting their fun, controlling them and keeping them from enjoying life. Interestingly, not so different from how many of us see God.
Sounds so simple and easy, of course we who are responsible and love our children are going to set rules and boundaries for their safety because we are responsible for them at a minimum until they can take full responsibility for themselves. It would be at the least negligent and unloving not to have their best interests, protection and well being at heart. May I just suggest here, it is no different where God is concerned!
Today on what would have been my Dad’s 79th birthday, I dedicate this to my parents. Happy Birthday Dad! So grateful for all you and Mom taught me and more so each year I walk this planet without the two of you!! How great to have the assurance of being together again one day and telling you both this in person! I truly know you love me and always wanted what was best for me!