An Identity Crisis

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Living Stones Series: First Published in All Around Old Bridge Publication – March 2019

By Pastor Lloyd Pulley

Growing up we believe anything is possible. We dream of piloting spaceships or protecting our fellow citizens from crime. Now, with modern surgery, we can even become space elves.

A recent episode of Botched featured a man who wanted to look like a space age version of Legolas from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

The show features nose jobs, tummy tucks and the occasional request to become a carbon copy of a favorite celebrity. In this episode, the self-proclaimed “Space Elf” complained his prior doctor was unhappy with his request for a nose that “doesn’t look human at all.” He was on Botched to get the “perfect small elfin face.”

A YouTube search for extreme plastic surgery leads to videos of people who’ve undergone procedures to look like Barbie dolls, aliens, lizards and even cats. A Market Watch headline stated 200,000 teens had plastic surgery in 2017 and social media was to blame.

When did teens start feeling the need to get Botox and liposuction?

Has the sense of who we are been so lost that looking like a lizard is more appealing than being a plain old human?

Over the past several decades the world has witnessed countless changes.

The internet brought us closer together and magnified our differences. Gender dysphoria and its related problems are a recurring topic of legislation. Small town America has been devastated by an opioid epidemic where over 130 people a day die from opioid overdoses.

Celebrities seemingly on top of the world are regular casualties of drug addiction and suicide. We live in a world of likes, follows and subscribers. No longer separated by geographical boundaries - with social media there is no rural, no suburb. We are all in the big city now.

Why are we a generation so insecure that we see so many resorting to such extreme measures? Could it be that today’s societal ills have their basis in the lack of boundaries, the walk away from Judeo-Christian values, the right is wrong and wrong is right mentality?

When the distinction between right and wrong is blurred, many end up creating their own reality. In a world detached from its creator we create man-made heroes. We look up to influencers and celebrities to give us a sense of who we are. We put our hope in sponsored and cleverly crafted content, chosen through some algorithm designed to point us in someone else’s direction.

We try to craft our own identity but fail. Without structure and boundaries to guide us we have become lost, vulnerable and easily manipulated.

Boundaries are what provide for us true freedom to explore. A study on pre-school children found that without boundaries, children will huddle together fearful of their surroundings. Children in a fenceless playground will cluster together, choosing to remain within sight of their teacher instead of fully utilizing the playground. By simply adding a fence, the children roamed freely, utilizing the entire space. It was clear that boundaries and limitations freed the children to explore.

The Bible teaches that God created Man in His own image. We were formed of dust and had life breathed into us by the Almighty Creator. God knew us before we were formed in the womb and endowed each of us with unique attributes, and a unique plan for our lives. We are God’s workmanship. We are who He says we are.

The Bible also teaches that when you put your faith in Christ you are a new creation. You are no longer your own, for you were bought with a price. Jesus calls us to follow him that whoever follows him will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. He calls us to lay our burdens upon him.

In Matthew 11: verses 28-29 Jesus tells us “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

It has been proposed that the proper study of mankind is man but biblically, the proper study of what mankind should be is what Creator God has said. Only by a good theology can we understand anthropology. If we do not understand the God who created us, we can never understand ourselves.

When we compare ourselves to others, when we put our hope in our circumstances and try to create our own identity, we miss the point that identity comes from above.

Calvary Old Bridge will be hosting a Vertical Identity Conference on April 5th & 6th. I personally invite those 30 and under to join us.

By seeing that our identity is vertical we free ourselves from the traps of comparison. My prayer is that we all come to see ourselves rightly and that can only come from seeing Jesus for who He is.

Marj Lancaster