It’s Pride month.
I never thought I would acknowledge Pride exists, yet here I am pondering it a bit more deeply this year because of how it relates to my identity. In the past, when I thought about the topic of identity, one label rose above the rest: Christian. It is not as though that label doesn’t exist anymore; it indeed is more well-defined in my life now than ever before. Like other facets of my identity, the identity marker of Christian is woven into a fabric of my existence. Exploring the fabric’s intricate patterns has transformed the word “Christian” from merely a label to a perspective that guides and shapes my growth in the Lord.
Uncovering other aspects of my identity has deepened my understanding of who I am in God’s eyes, and how I relate to the world around me. And since identity is an immense topic to unpack in one blog post, I’m only going to scratch the surface by highlighting moments that collectively remind me of my complex identity.
Random reminders of identity
It’s summertime and I shave my legs. It’s odd ritual that I never have time to do in the winter, but gladly do every day during the summer. The act of shaving my legs reminds me that I’m a woman who cares about cultural American protocol. Shaving my legs gives me a perspective on what it is to be well-groomed and differs from my brothers who ooh’ed and aah’ed over their thick leg hair as adolescents. So I embrace shaving my legs because it reminds me of my identity as a woman.
Every Good Friday I cry. I cry because on Good Friday in 2004 I made the decision to follow Christ. My tears come from deep emotions of awe and gratitude because of the unfathomable awareness that Jesus loves me and demonstrated that love in the greatest way possible. My tears on Good Friday remind me of how my faith drives me to pursue a lifestyle that receives and gives love through the empowerment of God’s Divine presence. So I embrace my tears on Good Friday because they remind me of my identity as a Christ-follower.
The other day I shook my head because I discovered my first grey hair. Finding a grey hair was a novel experience that reminded me of my age. As a young person, I have lived enough life to earn a grey hair but surely have not surpassed the wisdom of those who’ve earned an abundance of grey hairs. My ever-changing perspectives as a young professional force me to strike a balance between self- confidence and a willingness to learn from others. Living in that tension is such a rich place of growth. So I embrace my solitary (for now) grey hair because it reminds me of my identity as a young person.
In the midst of racial tensions, I listen. I listen to the stories of my Grandmas who grew up in the Jim Crow South and the stories of modern-day oppression from my Black brothers and sisters. Listening to these stories shapes my perspective on education as I consider my own privilege as the granddaughter of college-educated Blacks. Listening also reminds me that my heritage is one of hardship, oppression, grit, and resilience. So I embrace listening, because it reminds me of my identity as a Black person.
In the coronavirus outbreak, I sit. I sit because I am an introvert and just love being alone. Sitting reminds me that being in my own space is rejuvenating for me. After being around people or on the phone, sitting in silence gives me space to re-enter a post-social distancing world at my own pace. So I embrace sitting because it reminds me of my identity as an introvert.
I am a whole person
Other people might experience the same scenarios I described above and respond very differently because they are different people. Identity is a complex set of factors that shape individual perspectives. But identity is not static. Part of me is ready for the next life crisis on the heels of the coronavirus to teach me something new about myself. Not that I want to experience another pandemic, but rather I recognize that random experiences bring new and unexplored aspects of identity to the surface.
My therapist recently asked me what it is like to acknowledge that I am a sexual being. “I feel whole,” I responded after some deep work on the topic. My mind went back to Genesis 2 and the poem that Adam emphatically proclaimed over Eve when he first saw her naked body. Sexuality is a part of identity. Learning to embrace my sexuality has helped eliminate confusion around the topic of sexuality and has prompted me to be grateful to God for creating me as a whole and complete person.
Pride month 2020 makes me pause and reflect on my sexual identity. It wasn’t until recently that I acknowledged Pride month as being significant to me, but as I think about it in light of all the reminders of identity I’ve experienced recently, I recognize that my sexuality is a thread woven into the fabric of my existence. Together, these threads teach me about God by showing me more of who he made me to be. Pride month reminds me of my identity and I open myself up to learning more about who I am in God as he continues to bring random reminders of identity to the surface.
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