Tuesday, June 05, 2012
sing a new song
who am i?
it's a question we all ask, and, presumably, answer (or not) differently.
and yet there is something that certainly unifies us, beyond this universal quest for identity, and it is something that brennan manning (and others) would call "the impostor."
the impostor is that voice that i think we all hear from time to time (or nearly always), which speaks lies to us about ourselves. we know this voice all too well, as the dark side of capitalism has, well, capitalized on it. companies have become experts at singing in harmony with the impostor to create a siren song of mistaken identity. the song goes something like this:
you're not good enough. you're empty. you're alone. you're too fat. your car is too old. your skin is too wrinkly. your hair is too gray. your hair is too gone. you're not happy. you will never succeed without what we can give you. you need more friends. you need more beer. you need more comfort. you need more luxury. you need more ease. you need more. why? because you are not good enough.
sound familiar? it should. it is the soundtrack of our lives. it is played constantly on every radio station, every tv channel, every billboard and baseball outfield. it is everywhere around us. oh, and its in us, too. the voice of the impostor has been seeping through the cracks in our exterior since we can remember, flowing faster with every rejection, every perceived slight, and every so-called failure. it echoes across our experiences until we relent and believe it's tired refrain: i am too pudgy. my nose is too big. my hair is too curly. my legs are too thick. my laugh is too loud. i am a failure. (and here's where it gets really twisted) no one could ever love me. God could never love me. i am unlovable. i am ugly. i am worthless.
it's an awful song, a poisonous one.
and while most of us aren't putting it on repeat and singing along at the top of our lungs, i'm rather afraid that we are humming the tune and familiar with all the words, in spite of ourselves.
but there is a remedy. the antidote, of course, is to make the radical discovery once and for all that you are a child of God, made in the image of that God, designed and artfully made just the way you are. and not only that, but when you got broken (by life, by yourself, by all of it) God knew enough to know that you were worth redeeming, no matter the cost. it is a story too good to be true, and too true not to be good.
and if only it really was once and for all for us. it would be so wonderful if once we learned the words (or even the glorious tune) of this new song, we never went back to singing that impostor song, but alas, it isn't so. we seem to forget. or we get distracted. or the sheer volume of the impostor song overwhelms us. however it happens, we too often find ourselves singing the words of that same old song.
and that's why we have the Spirit. at least that's what paul wrote in romans 8. he said that those who are led by the Spirit are the children of God, and that the Spirit "testifies with our spirit that we are children of God" (vs. 14-16).
first of all, we are children of God. that's enough of a statement right there. we could just stop there and revel in that truth forever. let it sink in for a moment....you are a child of God. not an acquaintance. not a distant relative. not an annoying neighbor. not the last person picked on God's kickball team. no, you are a child of God, with all the rights and responsibilities that go along with that. with all the love and tenderness and reckless adoration that a parent has for their child. it's ridiculous just how much God loves us, no matter what songs we sing about ourselves.
but wait, there's more. paul says that, just in case we forget who we are and whose we are, the Spirit of God testifies with our spirit about it. in other words, the Spirit of God talks to us, whispers to us, speaks clearly to us in words we can understand, maybe even sings to us to help us drown out the imposter's song. are you getting this? when our voice gets hoarse and our ears hurt and we can't get that sick song out of our head, the Spirit of the living God sings for us a song of truth and light and hope: you are God's child....you are God's child....you are God's child...you are God's child...you are God's child...you are God's child! it is a lifesong, a heartsong, a truthsong. the symphony of the scriptures provide the accompaniment and the Spirit sings you into remembering: you are God's! you are beautiful! you are loved!
so trade in your sad old song today. listen to the Spirit's leading. tap your toe to the beat and feel the notes resonate in your chest. and start singing a new song. i am a child of God!