Identity. It’s a touchy subject. Who or what defines you? Modern culture tends to equate identity with popularity. In other words, our level of acceptance determines our importance.
Don’t believe me? Look at a teenager’s social media account. A collection of so many highlight reels, longing for acceptance. I know because I often find myself there.
Look at the middle-aged adult. Trying to gain acceptance. I mean, he doesn’t even say words like that until he’s around that guy.
Look at the elderly. Trying to keep pace with the conversation at hand. Oh, can I just fit in?
Identity is a battle. The way you find your identity determines how you live your life. Throughout my eighteen years of existence, I’ve learned this firsthand. But I’ve come to a conclusion: I wanna be different.
Last week, I got a new pair of glasses. Glancing upon the shelves, I spotted the perfect pair. A clear frame with circular lenses. I loved them. After all, they were “Ernest Hemingway glasses.” Maybe wearing his glasses would make me a better writer!
But these glasses were different. I mean, how often do you see a kid walking around with clear, circular glasses? Not very often. But I didn’t care. Why? Because I wanna be different. So I left the store, clear spectacles in hand.
Being different is so much more than a particular pair of glasses. It’s just the first story that comes to mind. Truth be told, we have an opportunity to be different each and every day.
Consider John the Baptist. He was certainly different.
“John’s clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey. People from Jerusalem and from all of Judea and all over the Jordan Valley went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River” (Matt. 3:4-6 NLT).
John knew who he was in the eyes of God. He embraced his identity, even if it meant being different.
I’m learning that my desire to be different stems from my relationship with Jesus. Because I know who I am in Him, I’m unashamed to be different.
As Jesus followers, we’re called to be different. Paul writes, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Rom. 12:2 NLT).
And that’s my message for you today. I’m not telling you to purchase clear glasses, eat locusts, or wear camel skins. Instead, I’m encouraging you to be different for God.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Eph. 2:10 NLT).
I don’t know about you, but I love my comfort zone. It holds me secure, keeping me from stupid mistakes. Comfort zones do for my mind what a blanket does for my body—it protects me from the bitter cold and chaos. But I’m learning something: I must escape my comfort zone to reach my fullest potential. In other words, if I really want to live for God on this earth, I must be different.
Isaiah Pauley is a senior at Wahama High School. He can be followed at www.isaiahpauley.com, or on Facebook at Isaiah Pauley Page.