Misplaced Identity

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September 9, 2018

I recently recalled an incident from several years ago that involved my wife’s red VW Turbo New Beetle and a rose. I told the story on Facebook recently, and share an edited version of the story here with you.

NOTE: there is some conjecture in this story, but the rapid sequences made it seem obvious what was going on. Only God knows. But it amused me.
There was an incident several years ago having to do with my wife’s red Beetle and a flower. I had picked up her car from Grace Christian School, where she taught, and took it for some kind of needed service. On my way back to the school, I was waiting at a left turn signal.
To my right, up lumbered a pickup the size and looks of a locomotive – a “man“ truck. It was jacked up so high you’d likely need a step ladder to clamber into the driver seat. It was one of those trucks that looked like a high side wind would likely tip it over.
As drivers often do, he took a glance into the car next to him, as I looked up into his lofty position. After a double-take, a foul scowl immediately darkened his face. Next his mouth opened.
I could not hear him, but the way he spit out words, and seeing the tense anger on his face, I can guess the speech was foul as well, expressing the stupidity of a “feminine” man with a flower in his car. His disgust was clear, particularly as he glanced down into the car as he spoke.
The light changed, and he jammed the pedal and lumbered off, still spouting whatever he was spouting. He probably did not realize I was driving a pocket rocket with five valves per cylinder and a turbo charger, which could’ve left him standing at the line.
Right then I wished I had the opportunity to say “Did you know the most fearsome awesome Being in the entire universe created this flower?” (And everything else we can see and not see.)
I would have refrained from saying what else I was thinking, “I am sorry that you are so insecure in your manhood.“
If my car had a bud vase, there would be a flower in there all the time. Beauty does much to calm tension and slow racing hearts.

Remembering this has caused me to think more about identity and where we try to find it. It seemed likely that this man derived a good deal of identity from the vehicle which he drove. This is a common human affliction, and I admit I have gone down this wayward path as well.

Cars became identified with America: wide expansive spaces and the open road. Cars are customized to more readily fit the personalities of the owners, or to set themselves apart from the masses. Manufacturers play to this desire by providing ways to order a one-of-a-kind vehicle with options and add-ons.

It’s not just cars and trucks. We identify with teams, brands, kinds of geography,  place, musicians, song styles, and certain coffee drinks. The list is endless. People want to be seen, and seen in ways that enhance their uniqueness. Some give strong attention to this. And we all have seen the attempts to craft alternative realities on Facebook.

Why do we do this? Innately we want to be valued. We want to be remembered. If we are not secure in who we are before God, and have not appreciated His gifts in and to us, we’ll contort ourselves to create something for people to notice. We want that vibe, whatever it is.

I believe the single largest underlying factor is the desire to be loved. “Hey, look at me” is almost certain to have at its root “please love me”.

So driving a monstrous truck can be a call for someone to love and care? I bet it can. As can a cute little red car with a flower in a bud vase. We all have personal preferences. That is great. We are created that way as part of the infinite variety God gave us.

The issue is how important are the preferences. If we lift ourselves and look askance at others, preference is too important.

I have found that the more I rest in the full acceptance and love of the Almighty, the less concerned I am about the (inauthentic) prestige of owning certain things or looking certain ways. (Not that I would turn down the opportunity to drive a Porsche 911 at speed on a twisty mountain road – after much practice.)

Where do you strive to gain your identity? Would it be good news to you to learn you do not have to strive at all, but simply accept with gratitude the person God made you to be?


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