Posts Tagged ‘identity’

Over the summer, some big news hit the Christian world. Vicky Beeching announced that she is gay. She is a broadcaster, commentator, singer-songwriter who spent many years living and working in the US, and her music is sung all over. Shock waves reverberated all over Twitter and the trolls came out for breakfast.

The first comment I want to make is that in no way am I anti-gay. I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and that it is only in that context that sex should take place but I believe that God loves everyone gay, straight and all variations in between. And for those who have missed the mark there, there can be complete forgiveness, because God loves us and wipes the slate clean. Cleaner than Daz.

But at the same time, when I heard the news, something inside me was really disappointed. Disappointed because Vicky is a good looking young woman who had as yet remained unmarried. Disappointed, because someone else in a similar situation had been outed “accidentally” on TV by a careless interviewer. Because these two had been some sort of proof that normal people didn’t have to marry young.

Because, as I’ve been getting older, gradually, the single friends have been getting fewer. Now it seems that everyone has somewhere to go, someone else to share with, and a new set of concerns and cares. Families are started, new lives begin.

And when you’re in that situation, it becomes easy to question whether there is something wrong. Whether there is a reason that no eligible bachelor has shown up in my life and whether that means that I’m just not particularly fanciable, or lovable, or even especially likeable. Or whether people might be looking at me, asking the question, “is she gay?”

But I had been at peace with my own singleness. People in my church are keen to match me with someone, seeing it as a waste that I am not married. I had rejected that, and tried to model attractive singleness. That I don’t need to be paired with someone else to be a complete human. That life has not passed me by simply because I don’t have kids by the time I’m 30.

It seems that gradually just as one by one friends have started to meet the love of the life, those role models for being single and living and enjoying life have also gradually started to be picked off, one by one. It feels as if I might be soon the only one left.

I refuse to believe that it is only through relationship with other humans that we are made complete – actually, it is only through being in relationship with God that we can be whole and healed and free. I dream of the day when I might have a husband and a family, but I know then that life will never be perfect and I’ll probably want the single dream after the 4am sick episodes and the smelly nappies and the unwashed socks.

Right now, I can go where I like when I like (as long as my job allows). I can stay up late or go to bed early and it is only me who has to deal with it. I can even use all the hot water. It is great being single. And it is also fairly normal – we no longer live in the world where unmarried women of twenty would be declared spinsters. But we need not to be a church which rejects those who are single and tells them that they are incomplete or unfulfilled. We need not to concentrate on families at the expense of single people.

Together, we can be God’s family on earth. Young and old, single, married, male, female, and everyone. Sexual relationships are not the be all and end all of life, even if they can be rather nice. And most of all, my identity is that of a child of God, not in my gender, sexual orientation or my marital status.hearts

There are times when I feel a little lost. I look back and wonder how on earth I have come to be in that particular place, at that particular time. How on earth did I end up holding this particular responsibility? Did I really say that I love doing x?

It does has its benefits. It means I can be a bit more vague when it comes to making decisions. If I’m not sure who I am it means that I don’t have a set standard of ethics to frame my choices. It means that I can sit back and let others do the hard work and be responsible. It means that I can love my green trousers one day and hate them the next.

Sometimes this can be classed as growth. The idea that you can look back with the benefit of hindsight and ask yourself “really?” Changing is not a bad thing. Especially when it is being transformed into the image of Christ.

But Christians talk a lot about identity. As forgiven people, we find our identity in Christ. We are no longer characterised by sin or the things we have done, but rather by what Jesus has done for us. We are new people. Such good news.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Brilliant. This means that I don’t have to worry about the old labels I had for myself. Self-harmer. Crazy person. Loner.

So why do I? Why did I tell someone yesterday that I considered myself to be mentally unstable at times? Or, even worse, why did I worry that they thought that I was? Do I still see myself as a self-harmer, or someone redeemed by grace?

I wonder whether these labels are easier to handle than facing up to the reality. The reality that I have become a new person, and that I do have choices to make about how to live my life, because that is what grown up people do. I think decisions are difficult sometimes.

There is also the fact that, by considering myself to be a self-harmer, it means that I am allowing myself the possibility of relapse. If I really felt I needed to. Maybe. When desperate. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Again, there are positive aspects to this. It means that I am more likely to seek the help I need from friends and others. It means that I am constantly relying on God for my strength not to cut myself. And it means that I don’t take my recovery for granted.

But to what extent will I be able to recover fully if I stay like this? Does it mean that I am defined by the bad things and the relapses rather than the redemption of the Cross and God’s love for me? How do I think God sees me?

Important questions from a slightly panicked heart.

I choose Christ. I choose to be defined by Him and not by a pair of scissors.

The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.’  (Zephaniah 3:17)

And this is so true.