Practicing Identity

I think the things we want most in life, the things we think will set us free, are not the things we need.  -Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

Sometimes who we are is clouded by distractions. In Blue Like Jazz, Miller states that he would never stop his spiritual journey with God for intellectual reasons but only for social distractions and pressures. Every person knows those pressures well. I have felt them strongly at different intervals in my life, times when the desire to just be like everyone else and dabble a little here and there sneak in and you convince yourself it will be okay. It’s hard to be the different one as cliche as that sounds. I remember growing up as the only dark face in a sea of white faces in school. When I was much younger I would think to myself how much easier life would be if I just looked like everyone else. But then I realized how easy it is to blend in and be ‘one of the masses.’ And I decided that if I was going to stand out then I was going to be as memorable as possible, and set out to be more than just a different skin color. I owned my identity, and put in practice exactly who I wanted to forge myself to be.

If I want to be who I am though I have to not just say who my identity is, but also practice it daily. If I believe that my life has a special purpose, I have to mark my journey in life accordingly. I went on a date today and throughout the date this guy took stabs at my intelligence because I believe in a higher power. Beyond the fact there will be no second date, it also reinforced my feelings that my faith is the center of who I am–my identity.

In church today the pastor reminded the congregation that for a pot of stew, Esau exchanged his identity, his inheritance. That really struck a chord with me and stuck with me all the way home tonight. I can’t falter to the pressures of being someone and doing things that I am not. I don’t want to lose everything I could potentially have, all of life’s promises I believe are set aside for me, because of a temporary bowl of soup. As I constantly tell my students, I have to see the bigger picture and know that the story of my life is bigger than this singular moment.

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