“A core need in human beings is to know and to be known“
My children are of an age where they hear and attempt to understand the adult conversations around them. Merge that with a doozie of a year. They have overheard more conversations my husband and I share with each other and actually taken in more than we expected or realized. This has become obvious when they express their viewpoints based off of their elementary interpretations of overheard conversations. This has been enlightening.
A core need in human beings is to know and to be known. Love. Acceptance. One way our brains and emotions can process this need is by seeking out those with whom our inner self feels safe and comfortable with. But how do we determine who that is? This is where the social “groups” and stereotypes come into play. Those who frequent the same locations and events we do, those who speak like us, look like us, etc. Those who are familiar in one way or another feel like a more likely and safer option for our seeking of knowing and being known.
As our children listened in and are beginning to attempt to understand, even if it be in a limited way, the foundational truths behind our viewpoints they have taken it upon themselves to ask questions of those in their lives.
Being their mother, I have had the opportunity to overhear these questions at times. Which has opened up other conversation opportunities.
They ask questions, such as, which political party a person associates with, or what they think of a certain politician, or if they are a Christian. This has helped me understand how the grouping and classifying that can be done through these information gathering quests they are on can help them make sense of their world and feel safer to explore being known and knowing certain individuals. It has also sparked a thought / question in my mind.
How often do we seek organizing ourselves and individuals into these groups as a sense of control of our identity and theirs? How often are we finding our identity in these groups? How often are we assuming other’s identities in these groups?
I had someone who knows me very well tell me recently that they were not religious like me. They placed me in a group. I had my children (among others) assume what political party I am a part of based off of certain questions asked, or viewpoints expressed (they were all wrong).
I get it. Stereotypes are there for a reason. They help us feel in control, safe, and reserve emotional and mental brain power for more seemingly unpredictable daily happenings.
But as I have learned, and think many others have as well, stereotypes, while they exist for a reason, and may be founded on certain norms and statistics, are not always correct. And even when one may fit, even wholly into a stereotype, it may not be for the entirety of a person’s life. Maybe they need to adopt a stereotype for a limited time while they figure out who they are or take a break from all the emotional and social stress this society is constantly slinging.
And while someone may appear to fall into a certain stereotype, to themselves and to those around them, I guarantee if they are being truthful with themselves and know who they are they will not fit nicely into any stereotype.
While stereotypes can be a useful tool, when relied on too heavily, and when used too frequently and in place of knowing, they can and will be damaging.
I have learned long ago that I do not fit into a stereotype. I’m too crunchy for some and not crunchy enough for others, etc. I learned long ago to stop trying to fit into a group. I learned long ago who I am. That my identity is not found in a group defined by social, religious, or political values.
I am reading more and more about individuals pulling away from certain groups. Realizing some major differences in their ideologies they are finding themselves in a crisis of identity. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But as they leave one “group” they run straight into the arms of another. Not realizing that the flaw here isn’t in the group they left, but in “groups” altogether. They each promise they’ll be more loyal, virtuous, loving, accepting, etc.
“The flaw here isn’t in the group they left, but in “groups” altogether“
There is only one identity that will provide us with the truth we are seeking. The knowing and being known we crave. The love. That is the identity we walk into when we accept the gift of salvation offered to us by Jesus Christ, God’s Son when He died on the cross to pay the punishment for our sins. That is our identity as God’s children.
If we are finding our identity anywhere else it will be filled with human flaws, error, and sins. This new “group” as we have walked into is just as flawed as the one we came running away from. As will be the next. This includes every denomination and every church as well.
The amount of virtue they toot holds no comparison to the virtue God holds. The amount of love and acceptance they offer holds no value to how God will love and accept you. The amount of knowing and being known they offer you is minuscule compared to how the one who made you knows you. Even down to the number of hairs on your head. Because while you may not care about something like that, He does.
So, I sat my children down and explained that I am not a member of a political party. I do not define myself with a “denomination” of church or religion. I am not and never will be any identity other than one of God’s princesses. That is who I am. His. He loves me. He knows me. He chose me. He made me. Everything I need is in Him.
“My identity is in Christ and Christ alone“
I will encourage my children to find their identity in Christ as well. Not in a political party, a social group, or a church denomination, etc.
So no, I am not religious. I am Christ’s. There is a huge difference there. I am not Republican or Libertarian or a Democrat. I am Christ’s.
And I challenge you to ask yourself the tough questions about yourself. Where is your identity? What social norms are you clinging to out of a feeling of safety in the familiarity or fear of the judgement and rejection thrown at those who question “their truths”.
Or are you ready to seek Him. The One who made you, who loves you, who wants to save you. The One who’s truth will set you free, will fill you with joy, and peace. The One who wins in the end. Seek Him. Not what a progressive or a Catholic or a Baptist says is Him. Seek who He says He is. His is the only voice that will never fail us. And He promises us that if we seek Him, He will be found by us. Seek Him with all your heart.
(I do vote, I also attend a church. And I have been a member of a church in the past and may be again in the future. I am friends with those from all walks of life and will always fight for the free will God gave us and desired for us. I will fight to always point all to God, knowing He is the only one who will every truly satisfy what their soul is longing for, but we were all lost at one point, myself included. We are all at different points in our journey toward and with God. My job is to do as He commands. Seek Him, obey Him, love Him and others, and point others to Him. This does not mean I will turn a blind eye to what God says is sin. But also means I will always strive to love or allow God to love everyone, even those who hate me and want to strip away my freedoms, through me. I am no stranger to persecution. Each time I experience it is another opportunity to learn how to serve Him better, and point others toward Him. He is the author and finisher of my Faith. As He keeps bringing opportunities to love others and point them toward Him (which is THE most loving thing we can do, even when the world says otherwise) I will keep submitting to Him, learning more and more how to allow Him to love through me, because His strength is made perfect in my weakness and He is love).
“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Mathew 10:30
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Romans 3:23
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:9
“Dear Jesus, I am a sinner. Please forgive me. I believe that You are the son of the one, true God and that You died on the cross to pay the punishment for my sins. And that You rose again on the third day. I invite You, Jesus, to come into my heart and life as my savior. Thank you for saving me. Amen”
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore, the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:1-2
“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8