Society has a good knack of telling us how to live our lives. The pressures to conform and live up to regulations and standards are as tangible and real as the sights around us.These unspoken expectations infiltrate into the clothes we choose to wear out, the places we frequent, the subjects we study and so on. The words we choose to speak don’t just carry a singular meaning; they’re loaded with subliminal messages and are sometimes dripping with desire to be approved and validated.
I personally don’t think anyone is immune from the scrutiny and burdens society places upon us. We may be yearning to act individualistic and unique, but I think we severely underestimate how powerful these forces are; how formative they can be. I think this observation opens a very interesting can of worms: Are we all un/sub/consciously seeking to solidify our identity in something? And I think the knee-jerk answer to that appears to be yes. My question is, why? Is there an intrinsic emptiness within us that we’re looking to fill? And if so, are we looking to the outside world to fill it?
Sadly, I don’t think the outside world is well-equipped to deal with our identity issues. I say this because I think it is severely struggling with its own identity as well. It may seem to gain its footing for a bit, but can it be solid, time-tested and foolproof? Why should the blind lead the blind? The individual identity crises we experience is only magnified in the context of the world. We’ve seen the big leaders of the world change its mind and ideologies; we’ve seen empires come and go; we’ve seen religions form and fade away. So, what else? Are we left to flounder?
I think our answers must come from somewhere external to ourselves, to our society and to our world. I basically believe the answers can only come from God. And I know, even the idea of God is hard to grasp and fathom. His alleged involvement in the world ranges according to different religions, from being the Creator of the world to being killed by the development of humankind and technology. However, I think the Christian faith paints a wonderful picture of hope, assurance, and security in who I truly am as a person. The Christian faith answers the deep issues of who we are and why we hurt. It shows us why we are so confused about our identity and why the security we derive from the world around us doesn’t, and can never, sustain us. It doesn’t tell me to behave a certain way; it tells me who I am built to be. In Christianity I recognise my true, intrinsic worth, the worth I didn’t work for, yet was granted with anyway. Because when Jesus Christ took the role of absorbing all of my wrongdoings upon the cross, He took everything I couldn’t be. He took all of my insecurities, faithlessness, social blunders, mistakes, hurtful remarks and nailed it dead. When He said “It is finished”, He meant that I didn’t have to be defined by any of them any more. I didn’t have to live to elevate myself above everything anymore. I can entrust my entire life and identity, warts and all to a loving God.
Christianity also paints a redemptive story of why there will come a time when we won’t hurt anymore; how our identity can be secured and founded upon something much more solid than the foundations of this world. As I endeavour to unpack these questions in future posts, it’s my hope that you find solace in the assurance of the faith, not just irrationally and in an uncalculated manner, but reasonably and logically.
To do this though, I think we have to come to the end of ourselves. We have to be in a position of recognition that the world does not satisfy us. Until we reach this point, why on earth would we consider hope in something otherworldy? So my question is, how much satisfaction does the world provide you today? Does it answer your deepest needs and longing? Does it provide joy and meaning? If it doesn’t, it might be time to start searching.
“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world”- C.S. Lewis