I’m looking forward to this weekend, when I’ll be one of the speakers at my church’s Young Adult Discipleship retreat. In preparation the my talk, our young adult pastor asked me to read The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery by David G. Benner.
It’s a short book, but it’s one of those books where not a word is wasted. It digs into all sorts of ideas related to identity and self-discovery. I especially liked this passage at the end of the book. It’s about finding our true identity in Christ, and it’s really beautiful.
“Happiness and fulfillment are blessings that come from surrender to the loving will of God. Both are idolatrous if pursued directly. Both are also easily a distraction from our true destiny, our calling in Christ. This is the only self within which we will ever be able to find absolute authenticity.
It is like putting on a perfectly custom-tailored dress or suit after wearing clothes made for other people. Our self-in-Christ is a self that fits perfectly because it is completely us. It is a self that allows us to be free of all anxiety regarding how we should be and who we are. And it allows us to be absolutely ourself- unique not by virtue of our strivings for individuality but profoundly original simply because that is who and what we are.
God’s call to our fulfillment is therefore a call to take our place in his grand restoration agenda of making all things new in Christ. Our vocation is grounded in the self that from eternity God has willed that we be. Our calling is to become that self and then to serve God and our fellow human beings in the particular ways that will represent the fulfillment of that self. Our identity is not simply a possession. It is a calling.
Paradoxically our fulfillment lies in the death of our own agendas of fulfillment. It also lies in the crucifixion of all our ego-centered ways of living apart from complete surrender to God. It does not lie, then, in any of the places we would expect to find it. Christ’s way always turns our ways upside down. But it is only in the upside-down world of Christ’s kingdom that we will ever find the self we were called from eternity to be and the God we were created to serve. In God alone is the truth of our being.”