In a sermon from a few months ago, Matt Chandler described the question, “Who are you?” as a psychological trap, and that’s what it feels like to me.
But he continued on to explain how he used to struggle with the difference between who he is and what he does, and while I’ve been aware of this same struggle within myself since way back when the Disney Channel first aired Brink’s dad telling him that “skating is what you do; it’s not who you are,” I think I’m still stuck in the sludge of expectations.
My friend Melissa once said that it would be nice just to exist, but the concept of letting my self be is very mystical and abstract to me, and it’s also one of the most difficult tasks on my to-do list. My expectations of myself border on the obsessive-compulsive and perfectionist sometimes, and the expectations others have for me seem only slightly less rigorous.
But Matt Chandler’s point was that we are a royal priesthood, and that identity isn’t based on what we do.
The other day, Shasta and I were talking, and she said something that reminded me of that passage in 1 Peter
She was feeling like she didn’t have anything to offer in our friendship; she and I have been a bit more distant than usual, and she was discouraged by some of the differences in our personalities that have felt amplified in recent weeks, namely my need to read every book and know everything… and her need to have fun and be silly.
Of course I like to have fun and be silly too, and she likes to read and know things, but she was feeling as if I prefer friends who talk books and teaching, and have lots in common with me.
While I do have friends who read and geek out with me over the classics, I’ve never really thought about wanting that specific brand of friendship more than I want any other. Shasta had unfortunately been around me and a teacher friend a few too many times and observed us celebrating our classrooms, followed quickly by discussions of ComiCon and Eureka.
But those parts of my personality have never been defining factors in my understanding of myself. If anything, I’ve thought of myself more as an athlete, and accepted the fact that most of my friends will never be able to understand how completely softball consumed me.
But, you know, my previous roommates also mentioned feeling like I didn’t need them, and actually observed the goofy version of myself I fall into when I’m with Shasta, or the slower, gentler way I am in my friendship with Lauren, and they weren’t sure what they could or should do as my friends. One of them said she understood that Lauren was the one I confided in, but wished I would choose to confide in her. The other believed that she and I should have been closer than we were, because we matched each other pretty well intellectually.
And while I admit, I really do need to get better at needing people, I also think there’s something to be said for friendships being unmerited, because the thing I most enjoy with friends… is just existing. Sometimes we all need that, and maybe it’s weird, but I’d rather spend a chill time sitting with friends and not talking than share hours of fun interacting with our common interests.
I’m so freaking tired lately. Working 6/5ths is taking its toll, and while Shasta fears she may not have anything to offer me, I know I don’t have anything to offer anyone. I don’t have anything brilliant to say, and Bible Study is a perfect example of that; I’ve noticed that a lot of us have lost our get-up-and-go, so we’ve been fumbling through our discussions, sort of like the droopy clocks in that Dali painting.
But I think/hope we all still claim each other, which is a beautiful living picture of God’s grace for each of us. I haven’t been doing much in His name lately. I haven’t shared my testimony, finished that painting I’m doing for church, finished reading that biography about Katharina Von Bora, or helped any orphans.
But I think and hope He still claims me.
Chandler’s sermon reminded me that I’m part of a chosen race and royal priesthood. That’s who I am. The rest of it is important, but it doesn’t change the answer to the question, “Who are you?”
I’m an adopted daughter. I’m claimed. I belong.
And I wouldn’t be a very good friend if I stopped claiming Shasta just because she hasn’t been to ComiCon or because she chose to be a nurse rather than a teacher.