According to Webster online an “Identity Crisis” is:
…a feeling of unhappiness and confusion caused by not being sure about what type of person you really are or what the true purpose of your life is
…personal psychosocial conflict especially in adolescence that involves confusion about one’s social role and often a sense of loss of continuity to one’s personality.
Identity Crisis is a term that Erik Erickson coined in the late sixties to describe the maturation process an adolescent travels on his or her way to becoming an adult. Success in this process leaves the adolescent with a strong sense of identity and well equipped to face adulthood with confidence and certainty.
An Identity Crisis and what can be termed an “Existential Crisis” are somewhat similar in the fact that each can be defined as a moment when an individual begins to question any of the foundational aspects of their life.
Foundational aspects can range from a new-found grasp or appreciation of one’s mortality to questioning one’s direction or purpose in life.
And we can already see by what has been said up to this point that forming a strong identity in your teens can be very beneficial in the long term.
Yes, we all have days when things don’t seem to make sense. There are those times when your job doesn’t seem to satisfy and your relationships seem hollow and superficial. I am sure that we all have suffered from survivors guilt when we hear about someone 10-20 years our junior who has just had a massive heart attack or passed away after a cancer diagnosis. And just understanding that life is not fair does not go a long way in helping us adjust to all the stuff that happens, all around us, everyday.
I have been wounded by church leaders and abandoned and betrayed by so-called friends. I am certainly not alone in this.
I made it through a physically and verbally abusive childhood with enough of myself intact to then be blessed with a fantastic marriage and great family in my later years.
Yet at this point in my journey, the water that surrounds me seems rather shallow. My purpose in life seems sort of contrary to what I believed it would be at this age and/or juncture. My sense of what it means to be a Christian even seems somewhat suspect: bearing in mind that several years ago I really thought I had many of those questions answered and filed away in that great heavenly storehouse.
And while I haven’t been quite content for sometime now, my security was torn apart at the end of last year during a sermon at a small local church. Yes, I more or less thought I was in a safe harbor until the church’s pastor, talking about resolutions vs. renewal and the world’s perception of who we are as Christians, stated that what makes us different is our ability to walk with God’s presence emanating from us. When Moses was called to take the children of Israel into the promised land, he informed God that if His presence did not go with them, they would stay right where they were (Exodus 15:33).
So, instead of relying on the works that we do being used to peak the world’s interest about what we have and why we are different, I came to the conclusion that somehow, it would be the manifest presence of God that would draw people to Him through me. A lofty thought indeed. In other words, we can learn to be patient and loving and kind by reading books that can be checked out of the library, but the proof of our Christian-ness is not in what we do or act like, but the Christ-like-ness that we are in the process of becoming.
I guess it has always been this way since the beginning: yours and mine and all the way back to New Testament times. The reality of Christ in us, the hope of glory. Pure, undefiled religion and worship in spirit and truth and all that.
We all have, I believe, lost ourselves in church doctrines and leadership and follower models that seemed to bring life at the time but only led us further and further from the simplicity of what it really means to be a part of the body of Christ.
So where I find myself today, more than a little disoriented and somewhat dismayed, is not really a bad place to be if I can only look at it as another beginning rather than a disappointing end to somewhere I have been for much to long.
Like that saying goes, the best is yet to come or the glory of the latter house will be greater than that of the former house.
Let the ride commence!