“I think we’re both too worried about what each other wants.”
As I said it, with a tight-lipped smile to cover the closeness of what I’d uttered, it wasn’t clear until much later why words I’ve only ever said to the love of my life passed my lips with this man. A man who is wise, clear, polite, painstakingly respectful, frugal… Prefers fruit to fast food. A man who walked a busy city street intersection barefoot in tattered clothes, carrying a cardboard sign that simply read: Hungry. A man who struggled with the absurdity of expectation and identity in a broken human exchange that is all at once, the most important and least revered, most avoided and least shared.
This exchange, all too common, has helplessly released any effort to right itself like a floating toy in a raging river.
This man, like so many others, balances: Convincing a world that believes itself worthy of judging him, with the reality of who God created him to be. This man struggles to survive on the charity of those who believe themselves worthy of judging whether he deserves a handout, based on how needy and broken he appears to be: Dirty, sick, foolish, depressed even when it wars with the reality of who God made him to be: Powerful, authoritative, regal, healthy, kind, discerning, wise.
This man whose incredible spirit mirrored my best friend’s in a way that forcefully righted our exchange and corrected balance…
This man was homeless.
His identity crisis, imposed by those who deem themselves worthy of judging, should be familiar.
You’ve felt it.
Every time you feel a war between what someone expects and who you are, you feel the sting of identity crisis imposed by judgment.
When you realize you far out-earn your peers. When graduates of a different university brag about their alma mater. When someone says you remind them of someone they came to despise. When you realize you’re the object of a random person’s lust. When someone says you don’t look like they expected. When you realize your in-laws aren’t as quick to embrace you as hoped. When you meet a spiritual leader who seems to examine your soul when you shake hands. When your jokes fall flat in an already awkward moment. When you hear disdain under someone’s tone for no reason you can define. When a loved one responds without love.
Every moment who you are wars against someone’s judgment of you, something inside of you breaks.
The beautiful thing is, it can be a breaking open. The crack that marks it can be seen as the point of conflict or affirmation.
When something doesn’t line up with what you know to be true about yourself (which is simple, good, clear, true, and purposeful) our natural inclination can often be to assume there is truth somewhere in that thing, then try to reconcile it.
What battle is more futile than the struggle to figure out how a lie is true? What is more violent than attempting to wear the lie like a mantle of torture?
Sometimes it’s easy to see the manifestation of that battle, but sometimes it isn’t.
Sometimes an inward battle of lie vs. truth, or identity crisis manifests as destiny deferred, as joy limited, as impact contained, growth stunted.
Let judgment fuel growth and improvement. Define the opposite of what was said. Hold on to that.
Hold yourself above measure, value, beyond any limiting definition of what you deserve. Always. Place others above measure, value, beyond any limiting definition of what you feel they deserve. Always. Hold the truth of God above all else. Always.
We lose life itself when we begin to move through it holding on to limiting beliefs about our own or other’s value, worth, identity.
Every one of us is limitless.
Every one of us is worthy.
Every one of us is incredible.
Every one of us has a purpose greater than we could imagine.
Celebrate by resetting your thinking with every interaction, every moment of reflection. Move, live according to that truth.