We are all born into a world that is constantly trying to define us, to proclaim and sometimes proscribe an identity for us, and to project itself upon us to meet its own self-serving needs whether those needs align with our purpose or not. It is up to us to know ourselves, because everything we do and every way we show up in the world all flow from the depth of who we believe we are–our sense of identity.
So how many of us have spent time and energy discovering our real identity, i.e. True Self instead of consciously and many times unconsciously allowing external factors to determine a fake identity, i.e. False Self? As much as I would love for it to just magically happen, your real identity takes intention and work. Somehow we have been misguided to believe that the real work that we are here to accomplish on planet earth is outside of us when our mission is first and foremost an inside job. In the words of Rev. Dr. Freddy Haynes, “Spend your life trying to get you together.” This sounds so simple, but I would be the first to admit that it is easier, more fun, and more rewarding to get everyone else together. It is easy to see their blind spots and shortcomings, but we go from 20/20 vision to completely blind when it comes to seeing our own. Plus, it is absolutely no fun pulling back the curtain on our delusions about who we think we are and we get no accolades and pats on the back to satisfy our need for affirmation for engaging in the process. So, naturally default mode is to be Mr./Mrs. Fix-It for everyone else and not for ourselves. Well, I have 5 simple words for you that anyone who has ever taken a flight has heard during the preliminary safety presentation, “Put your mask on first!”
Listen, your help is only as good as your own wholeness, so get you together–first. Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis, a licensed psychologist, ordained minister, and sacred artist, recently tweeted, “You carve out your identity by what you choose to learn, study, digest.” I would add that you also carve out your identity by what you choose to question. In many Christian circles there exists a prevailing sentiment that we are not to question God, and I have to tell you that I have earnestly looked and I cannot find any conclusive Biblical evidence to support that premise. Abraham questioned God (“Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?”, Genesis 17:17). Moses questioned God (“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”, Exodus 3:11). Mary questioned God (“How will this be since I am a virgin?”, Luke 1:34). Even Jesus questioned God (“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”), Mark 15:34). The Psalms are literally filled with questions–not to mention the entire spectrum of human emotions (good, bad, and indifferent)–that are directed at God. In fact, in Mark 15:34, Jesus is actually quoting Psalm 22:1. Now, I am no brain surgeon nor am I some world renowned philosopher, but the last time I checked, the best way to get answers is to ask questions. So, take the plane off of auto-pilot and ask yourself some questions:
- Who am I? ( S/N: You are not what you do. We’ll tackle that tomorrow 🙂
- Is that my true identity?
This Lenten Safari is a journey towards a place Shakespeare calls, “To thine own self be true.” Your mission is the ultimate inside job of flexing and reconditioning those spiritual muscles. Are you feeling the burn yet…the burn of the fat of false identities, idiosyncrasies, and ideologies falling away? Well, maybe it’s too soon…it’s only day 3. So, hang in there and hold the intention to get you together as you do the work. The world does not need another facsimile in an #alternativefacts universe that seems to be on an uncontrollable downward spiral; the world needs you–the real you, the authentic you, the fully embodied you.
Tara LaShawn Seabrook is a self-proclaimed “free spirit,” a public, practical, and prophetic theologian; a spiritual and social justice activist; a creative and cultural artist; and a prolific teacher, speaker, and writer. Currently, she resides in Guatemala where she is finishing up a 2-year volunteer in mission commitment with a non-governmental organization before returning to her native Charleston, SC in the spring of 2017. Her book based on her original poem, “I Am She: The Anthology” will be released later this year.