How do we find ourselves?
I did a quick check online and sure enough Oprah an online quiz to help us find ourselves. But I don’t want to pick on Oprah too much because it was only slightly harder to find Christianized versions of such ideas. The faithful often possess the exact same outlook on life as the surrounding culture, merely shellacked with spiritual gloss.
How we find ourselves is a question not many people asked in previous times. In previous cultures (and present ones different than our own), our identity was for the most part inherited. Our social position in family and society gave us an identity and we found ourselves within it. Now we can easily imagine the shortfalls of this and are probably repulsed by a perceived lack of freedom in determining who we are.
But given our own culture – where are forced to not just find but even to construct our own identities – we may be blind to the dangers on the other side. Whatever the pitfalls of finding identity in social and familial expectations, few wrestled with issues of identity with the same angst as we do today. This is evident from looking at the literature of the day.
It can actually be exhausting on our side of things. Because if we are completely free to find ourselves, or even to self-create ourselves, than it really rests all on us. The burden is entirely individually borne. And it betrays the general fact that if want to find yourself you ought not to look to yourself.
The Gospel – the Good News of Jesus with all its implications – offers something completely different than the older inherit your identity from tribe-social position-family-religious/ethnic affiliation. When people embraced Jesus as Lord they often had to forsake reliance on ethnicity or social position to construct identity. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free the Apostle wrote to the Galatians. Not even family ties, as vital in the Biblical view as in most other cultures, was where we are to find our identity. Think on that and consider Jesus’ words about fathers, mother, sons, and daughters.
But the Gospel also does not urge us to look to ourselves or find ourselves. This repudiates the contemporary obsession with self-discovery, self-invention, or self-construction. Instead urging us to find ourselves, we must instead lose ourselves – even our very lives. It’s then that we truly will find what we’re looking for.