Identity – Stand for Something Fall for Anything

Identity – Stand for Something Fall for Anything

When it comes to staying up-to-date I have a propensity to be a little behind the eight ball. I find it funny actually. In high school it was a bit of running joke, and to this day I still find myself playing catch up with modern events. Case and point I am finally reading the Harry Potter series and it is delightful. As far as this post is concerned I am finally sharing my observations about the past election…

In college I remember going with my Dad to meet his uncle, Uncle Mike. It was a really cool time to get to hear from someone who’s lived many years and has had so much life experience. To this day he said something that has always stood out to me, “stand for something, or fall for anything”. I encourage you to ponder these words as you continue to read.  

I’ll be honest I am not the most politically savvy person on the planet, but this past election has intrigued me much like it’s intrigued everyone. I can’t say I voted for either party, but I can say I wasn’t as shocked as I thought I would be when I woke up Wednesday morning. In fact my first reaction at 4:30am was to open my bible, and pray for my nation and for our leaders. As the week carried on I heard so many tragic and appalling stories in regards to both Trump and Anti-Trump events. While I could feel a whole realm of emotions I rather have chosen to take a step back and observe what is going on. 

I have seen a lot of great messages about taking the time to understand where the other side is coming from. I agree, understanding is far greater than reacting. For me, I understand there is immense concern plaguing many people. I understand I am writing this as a white male who does not experience discrimination on a daily basis. Yet I understand it is my responsibility to speak love into the lives of those who are. What truly hits home with me is my understanding of people in our nation acting out, and revealing an identity and faith in something broken.

Identity is powerful, it shapes our actions and our beliefs. As I continue to ponder what identity means I also have examined the state of our nation. Truth be told we are continuing to move towards an agonistic culture. Self is becoming far greater than anything else, and even charitable deeds are often to help one feel good or to look good in front of others. Sadly many have become apathetic towards God. The all too popular question, “if there is a God well then why do bad things happen,” and people claiming christianity treating their fellow man poorly has disillusioned so many. These factors and many others contribute to such a lack of solid identity. Whether admitted or not, dependence is often placed in self and as a result when self falters people struggle to find their way. 

I feel as if many people during Tuesday night discovered their faith was not placed in something actually reliant. Saturday Night Live captured this with their opening sketch revealing the sentiment of many voters during election night. While funny it was also sadly true, and the childishness being displayed by both sides is, for lack of a better term, heart breaking. So many people do not have a solid identity, and so many people don’t even understand their identity. As a result fear is able to creep in, and this fear is given a foothold when people come to the stark realization that the very thing they believed in is not as dependable as they once assumed. 

But here’s the cool thing, something I’ve picked up from my dad: the opposite of fear is faith

As a disciple of Christ I see these reactions and like I said it breaks my heart. Not out of fear, but out of knowing this world, this nation, needs Christ. Our identities have been messed up for so long, even many christians receive their identity from something other than Christ.

I would like to amend the opening quote with a twist “Stay rooted in Christ or fall for anything”. I find as my identity continues to become more entrenched in my belief of the gospel and what it says I am becoming more passionate about simply loving others. With this passion I find opportunities to step outside of myself and think how my thoughts shift. To paraphrase Dallas Willard, it is no longer about doing what Christ did but becoming who Christ was.

Yes fear is powerful, it is scary, it blinds us to what is going on, and drives us towards acting out in selfishness, contempt, and anger. When one lacks a solid identity fear is left to reign in their heart. Yes fear is powerful, but Christ is even more powerful, and as you learn with me what it means to have our identity rooted in Him your paradigm will change. You will find out how faith in Christ can combat fear far greater than any other way you could imagine. 

All of a sudden this series I was planning on writing has taken quite the unexpected turn from what I had originally intended. But you know what? I am perfectly okay with this. 

For my brothers and sisters in Christ I encourage you to continually entrench your identity in Him and in the truth He speaks through the Gospel. For apart from Christ we can do nothing. God calls us to complete dependence upon Him, and this dependence starts by making sure He is the one who gives us our identity.

For those of you possibly disregarding what I have said I simply ask for you to bear with me. Don’t write me off just yet. This series I have begun writing is going to get a whole lot more interesting. 

– Dave

A Lesson from Zoolander About Identity

A Lesson from Zoolander About Identity

It is crazy to think Zoolander is already over a decade old, and yet it may be one of my all time favorite movies to quote. Like many movies over the years it actually becomes more entertaining to quote then to watch. It is truly a goofy, juvenile movie, and yet in the opening scenes we learn an important lesson about identity. 

Derrick Zoolander is a male model recognized as possibly the greatest male model to ever live. At the male model awards Lenny Kravitz is handing out the reward for the Male Model of the Year. We receive the insight that this award is akin to the Academy Award for Best Picture. Zoolander having won the award the past few years is already confident he will win it again. When Lenny calls Zoolander’s rival Hansel to receive the award we are gifted with a moment of hilarious vanity and narcissism as Zoolander walks up to accept the award. When he finds out he lost not only is he completely embarrassed but devastated. In a moment of existential crisis Derrick looks at his reflection in a puddle and asks three of the most powerful words any of us could ask ourselves, “Who am I?”

You see Zoolander’s whole identity is wrapped up in the fact he is “really really ridiculously good looking”, and being the best male model of the year is an affirmation of this identity. When he loses, he not only loses the award, but he loses validation of who he is.

We see this happen in sports all the time. A few years ago Brett Favre was the brunt of many jokes and laughter as he just couldn’t seem to retire. He would jump around from team to team and for a while seemed to defy his age. I argue the issue was due to loss of identity. His whole being was wrapped up in football, he knew nothing else, and nothing else knew him. He was a football player, and when this was lost I would imagine he was struggling to find himself. 

There are a lot of things able to give us our identity. We may receive our identity from work, family, school, whatever it may be. And when we lose these objects of identity and our identity is called into question we may start to feel anxious, proverbially clenching our fists to hold on for dear life. When you take away an object of someone’s identity it is not the loss of this object that destroys them, but rather the loss of their identity

The truth is, whatever we receive our identity from is what will own us. I will say it again, whatever gives us our identity owns us; controls us.

Identity is so powerful and yet rarely addressed. Partly due to the abstract nature of it, but also the misunderstanding of it. A name is simply a name, and the complexity of it can cause a headache of confusion. Most of all, when we begin to understand identity we may being to realize the need to let go, and that is one of the toughest things to ask anyone to do. 

However, identity needs to be addressed, because the challenge of an individual’s life is to find someone or something from which they may receive an identity that will never go away, and many of us are so misguided in our attempts. Then when the object of our identity is gone we are left devastated in the ruin.

In our journey to discover such an identity the first question we must ask ourselves is “who am I?”. When we understand who we are and where we currently get our identity from we may better understand what we may need to do to change it.


P.S. For those of you who follow my blog you may be a little confused, you thought I was starting a series on physical strength. Well truth is I am actually doing two series at once. I feel identity has a lot to do with our mental fortitude, and mental strength. The two, in my mind, work fairly well together. This I hope will be evidenced as we go through both series.