In a blog last year I wrote about the influence that other people have in shaping our identity. We have to throw off the expectations others have of us. Then we can develop our own identity, create our own story. I may choose to include inherited events, or borrow experiences from others but my story is still home-grown. It is my story, it is who I am. It is your story, it is who you are. You have actively developed your story.
However if we lose that story we may become passive, the object in someone else’s story. Equally as we live our own story we may consciously or unconsciously damage or even destroy somebody else’s story, thus making them an object in our story. In so doing we challenge the other person’s sense of who they are, their purpose and value, causing them to question their identity. They may then need to revise their story.
There are many reasons for revising the identity story. Illness, bereavement, financial disaster, divorce, burglary, can all disrupt the person’s story and affect their sense of identity. In today’s world we must add war to that list.
Whatever the cause of the revision there is a need to include the event in the story. Any damage the event caused and the repair of that damage also needs including. To restore the person’s sense of who they are they need to feel in control of their story – that they are telling it rather than being on the receiving end. Meaning and significance need to be restored and seen to be active even when the disruption of the identity story is the bombing of one’s home and the need to flee. These folk are particularly vulnerable to the expectations of others – we need to be sensitive not to impose what we think they should be or do. Rather may we by God’s grace be or do whatever they need at that time.
Jesus met people where they were, making no judgement on where he thought they should be. He valued their identity by listening to their story. Jesus meets each of us where we are – may we meet others as Jesus meets us.