Identity



This video is completely unrelated to the content of this post, but when I'm typing earnestly I like to picture myself like Doogie Howser, MD. It also helps if I listen to the following while writing:



In unrelated business, one of the hardest parts of this shift I'm going through has to do with identity - which is something like what you bring to the world, or at least what makes you worth talking to at parties. At said parties, as a minister I had (and have, for one more month) a designation that got a response: a lot of times people would change the subject when I told them my occupation, but I knew there was always some opinion lying behind their reaction, one way or the other. It was a kind of hook to get people interested in me, or at least a source of narcissistic supply that made me feel like people were interested in me. The fact is, though, that I've always had a love/hate thing with that dynamic - I generally don't want people to direct their love or hate at me based on my occupation. But having preconceived notions projected on you, for good or bad, is really a minister's job as an Icon of Christ. And it was something, and it had become a part of my identity that I'd internalized. I'm already starting to mourn the loss, or recognize the change, or something now that I'm just a student again. Part of it is just a sense of not being that interesting anymore, but my religion and my role as a minister have really been the most important aspects of my identity throughout my adult life, and I'm finding myself a little bit off balance as I'm losing it.

I'm already seeing my sense of self reshaping though. When I was, like, 12, my youth minister gave out certificates to everyone in our group based on some positive contribution they made to humanity (or the church, or something), and he gave me the 'renaissance man' award, because I was interested in just about everything (Nintendo, Phil Collins, swimming, Middle Earth, basketball, Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior, C+C Music Factory...). Somehow that's stuck with me, and I'm finding myself recovering a little bit of it. I actually think that for the last 10 years religion has defined me to an extent that I'm not really comfortable with: it encapsulated my beliefs and spirituality, but also my work and my social circle, and usually what I did in my spare time. I've always bristled against that to some extent, and now I'm finding that I feel better about life when I have my eggs in a variety of baskets. I'm happy to be starting a career that will just be a career, and re-establishing a broad set of interests - triathloning, reading, writing, hiking, music, religion, friends who aren't all Episcopalians or potential converts, cooking meals, cleaning the house while Angel's out bringing home the bacon, dancing in front of the mirror while 'Girls Just Want to Have Fun' is playing and so forth. And I don't feel like I have to shove all of that into one intellectual mold, or write blogs about how it relates to faith in order to be fulfilling my role in the world. So, I'm going to run with that identity for awhile - as the guy who is interested in a lot of different things - and not try to find something to replace my all-consuming religious obsession.

Comments

Anonymous said…
The "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" dance - can you include a video of that with your next post? ;-)

And, I think you hit it square for me. Being a priest or in the ordained ministry can never be "just" a job, "just" a career. Even when you go on your week's vacation, I think. I somehow kinda vaguely figured this out a long time ago. It was a good thing to understand. Now nursing - well, you might not be always able to leave that stuff at work either, sometimes! --Joel Davis

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