Protecting Our Identity

Who are you?  No, I mean really.  Who are you?  Most of us live lives that demand that we take on numerous roles.  For me, I am a pastor, a preacher, a friend, a confidante, a counselor, a teacher, a daughter, a sister, a cousin, a homeowner, a sometimes-writer, a reader, a cook, a lover of antiques, a lover of history, and, right now, a human companion and purveyor of food and treats to one dog that I adopted on purpose and another one that twelve days ago accidentally adopted me (does anyone want a really cute dog?).  And those roles are just the tip of the iceberg.  It gives new meaning to “meeting yourself coming and going”.

The articles and advertisements for protecting one’s identity seem endless nowadays.  It’s the new danger in our world, the chance that someone might steal who we are, that we might somehow lose ourselves.  And so we shred and we cut and we lock and we watch.  We do everything to keep who we are intact. And yet, we find ourselves searching for who we are.  Isn’t that interesting?

God created each one of us.  We are unique, full of gifts and graces, most of which we haven’t even tapped into yet.  Each of us is a child of God, with the ability to become fully human and the desire to connect with the Divine.  I think that God actually envisions something for each of us, that God somehow created us with an idea of what the best of each of us is.  But we’re not children of the Stepford clan.  We are not pre-programmed robots that God wound up at the start and then pushed us down the road with enough battery juice to get us to the end of the road.  No, God’s vision of Creation was much more nuanced and much more beautiful than that.  Somewhere along the way, God decided to instill the notion of free will in us, the wherewithal (if, sometimes, not the ability!) to choose–to choose right from wrong, to choose one road or another, to choose to be one role or to be something completely different.  God gave us life and  envisioned what that life could be, envisioned our identity.  But how we get there is completely up to us.

Maybe this life of faith is about protecting our identity, then–from the world, from all those voices that beg for our time or our money or our attention, and, most of all, from ourselves.  Maybe learning to walk this life of faith is about figuring out how to protect our identity, walking that journey of becoming, losing, recapturing, and becoming again that Being that God envisioned us to be from the very beginning. It’s hard.  So, in this Season of Lent, as we strip away all of those encumbrances that pull us away from ourselves, as we try to find the way back to who we are, maybe it’s not just about becoming someone else, but protecting who we are in the first place.  So who are you?  No, I mean, really.  Who are you?
 
On this eighteenth day of Lenten observance, make a list of all your roles in life.  Which ones drain your existence?  Which ones give you life?  It’s a good thing to think about once in awhile.

Grace and Peace on this Lenten Journey,

Shelli  

And I’m serious…anyone want to adopt a dog?

Lenten Discipline: Seeking and Tuning

Today we lost an hour to the dreaded Daylight Savings Time adjustment.  I hate this day.  What is that about?  The claim is that we get “more daylight”.  Really? Have these people not had math or astronomy?  It is very bizarre.  So, I woke up at 5:00 (which was really, as my body clock pointed out to me, 4:00).  And while I went around and did all of my Sunday morning things for what was already an early day, Maynard (the dog) slept in.  He knew better and just didn’t want to be bothered with anything that might get in the way of his schedule.  Maynard is a rescue lab that I got in August and as this was our first “spring forward” day together, I think it confirmed to him that I really am nuts. 

I drove to the church at the time that I was usually privileged to view the sunrise on Sunday mornings.  There was no sunrise but rather a sky that held varying degrees of light as the sunrise began to stretch and get ready for the day, not really wanting to be bothered with anything that might get in the way of its schedule.  It really was rather beautiful, though (sans light, of course).  I stopped at the same red light at the same intersection that I do twice each year. It seems that I always change my car clock at the same place.  And I always have to once again figure out how to do it.  You punch “Clock” and then the radio screen lights up with the directions:  “H-Seek…M-Tune”.  (It’s telling you to use the “seek” and “tune” buttons to recalibrate your time and adjust its setting so that it makes more sense.)

The meaning was not lost on me even in my somewhat blurry state.  What a great metaphor for this Lenten season–seeking and tuning.  Usually when we see the word “seek”, our finely-trained minds go immediately to “finding”.  But on this spiritual path, that doesn’t work as well.  This is not a path of seeking and finding God.  God is not lost.  God is not hiding out waiting for some grand hide and seek game to end.  God is right here waiting for us, waiting for us to hear, waiting for us to listen.  And so this time of Lent is a time of our seeking and tuning, a time of recalibrating our lives so that we will be in line with the time of God, a time of adjusting our setting, so to speak, so that it will make more sense.  God is never out of the bounds of our life; sometimes we just have to stop and tune ourselves to the music that was there all along.  And once a year, the church year gives us a chance to do just that.  My memory is a little rusty.  I usually have to figure out how to do it all over again.  But God is patiently waiting for me to spiritually tune myself.  And if I don’t get it completely right, God, in infinite grace and mercy, always moves a little closer to me anyway.

So in this Season of Lent, tune yourself to the place where you best connect with God!

Grace and Peace,

Shelli