Skimming back over my posts, I’ve noticed that I write a lot about likes, dislikes, dreams, and identity.
A common thread runs through all these subjects: be yourself and don’t try to bend your personality to cater to others – or to cater to an idea you have of who you should be.
These ideas about identity come at us from television, movies, books, even churches (and other social groups), friends, and family.
Sometimes well meaning people try to impose a set of expectations upon us that we were never meant to live up to.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t have expectations of yourself. Just take care that they are the right ones. And be careful not to let outside influences dictate your likes and dislikes.
Those things come from God, and to deviate from them is fundamentally detrimental to your spirit.
Awhile back I posted an excerpt from C.S. Lewis’s “The Screwtape Letters,” which dealt with God given identity. As most of you know, the book is written from the point of view of a mentor demon named Screwtape to his nephew, who has been assigned to tempt a new Christian.
In one letter, Screwtape scolds his nephew for allowing his charge to take a walk and enjoy himself. Taking a walk, of course, seems, somewhat harmless when you think about it, but according to Screwtape, allowing this to happen is an egregious error.
After all, God created pleasure. The best that Satan can do is counterfeit or pervert it. So an innocent pleasure that you love, such as taking a walk on a crisp fall day, becomes an immediate danger to the plans of the enemy.
More from Lewis:
“The deepest likings and impulses of any man are the raw material…with which the Enemy has furnished him. To get him away from those is therefore always a point gained; even in things indifferent it is always desirable to substitute the standards of the World, or convention, or fashion, for a human’s own real likings and dislikings. I myself would carry this very far. I would make it a rule to eradicate from my patient any strong personal taste which is not actually a sin, even if it is something quite trivial such as a fondness for county cricket or collecting stamps or drinking cocoa. Such things, I grant you, have nothing of virtue in them; but there is a sort of innocence and humility…about them which I distrust…You should always try to make the patient abandon the people or food or books he really likes in favour of the ‘best’ people, the ‘right’ food, the ‘important books.'”
Even the silly things you like are you. I don’t meant that you should only seek pleasures – we all have to do things that we don’t want to do from time to time. However, when you do, be sure that what you are doing is really you.
You as you were created to be, just existing and enjoying your life, your creativity, your relationships, your talents, this is dangerous to Satan. And he hates it because God loves it.
God delights in our identities. He sings over us – we are his joy. You being you? That makes him proud.
Lewis also writes that the closer you become to God, the more you give your will to his, the more you you become. I think sometimes we believe that abandoning our will to God means we’ll become something different from who we essentially are, and that can sometimes hold us back from him.
But the opposite is true. The farther we are from God, the less we are ourselves – because then we are more susceptible to other influences, and these can easily divert us from being the person we were created to be.
And who knows better who we are than the one who created us?
Go take that walk or have that cup of cocoa. Read a chapter of that book you’ve been putting off reading because you have more important things to do.
It’s a beautiful Tuesday. Enjoy.