I have struggling with identity. What is identity? How does identity affect ones role in society. I perceive myself in a certain light; others perceive me in another light. I have a feeling that reality is where the two places merge.
In this manner identity is similar to that Buechner quote. You know the one that everyone seems to return to when asked about ministry. Identity has a deep relationship with that place where your deepest joys meet the world’s deepest needs. Identity is that place where you recognize what your deepest joys are and witness those joys meeting the world’s deepest needs.
You do not arrive at identity overnight. There is no magic moment where [POOF] you have an identity. All you have to do is conjure up your middle school or high school days. Who and what we were then is part of who we are today. Yet, we are not utterly defined by those days. I bet if service in ministry were defined solely by those days we would fill the pulpits with some reasonably unfit folks.
Identity is fought for. It is forged in the depths of depression and the mountain tops of victory. Identity is informed by the little silent moments within our hearts as our heart is broken, captured, and overjoyed. Identity is the incarnation of our story.
Our story is important to the sum total of history. History is comprised of individual stories merging into a culture, a society, a people. Identity exists in a corporate and individual manner. In many cases identity is hardly distinguishable from its breath of incarnations.
As a Christian my identity is tied to the story of Gods chosen people, it is woven into the story of Jesus the Christ. As a Christian my individual story is committed too, in covenant with the retelling of the story of a little child born in Bethlehem. Jesus’ story is my story and my story is his.
As I dwell in the story of Jesus the Christ I am transformed. As I am transformed an identity emerges that I can hold on too in the darkest of nights. An identity that embodies what I walked through. An identity that bears witness to whose I am. An identity that remembers my neighbor. The remembering is important to my identity.
As I searched the Buechner spoke of above I ran across this quote attributed to him. “When you remember me, it means that you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are. It means that you can summon me back to your mind even though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that if we meet again, you will know me. It means that even after I die, you can still see my face and hear my voice and speak to me in your heart.
For as long as you remember me, I am never entirely lost. When I’m feeling most ghost-like, it is your remembering me that helps remind me that I actually exist. When I’m feeling sad, it’s my consolation. When I’m feeling happy, it’s part of why I feel that way.
If you forget me, one of the ways I remember who I am will be gone. If you forget, part of who I am will be gone. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” the good thief said from his cross (Luke 23:42). There are perhaps no more human words in all of Scripture, no prayer we can pray so well. ”
I am drawn to the intimacy painted in these words. “I have left some mark of who I am on who you are.” What greater intimacy can be delivered? Many lovers never achieve this task. The American identity is absent of this kind of intimacy. The American Christian Church wrestles with what it means to have this kind of intimacy. I am not sure I have ever witnessed this level of remembrance in any community.
I hunger for this remembrance. Imagine a community that celebrates remembrance in such a corporate manner. This is the posture that Advent calls us to. We remember the story of a child born in a manger. With eager anticipation we excitedly open our hearts to the gift of The Christ. We hope for a miracle. We are called to transformation as we wait. How are we engaging these most human words in scripture, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” as we emerge from the ordinal timing of life?
“Remember me.” How many times has this flowed through our hearts, minds, and souls? How has this shaped our identity? My story, your story, our story…remember me when you come into the kingdom. Remember.