Freedom to Become Nothing
In this last year of my undergraduate education I have been dealing with the hard reality that I may become nothing. There is no guarantee that any of my endeavors should become realities. I realized that all throughout my life I have basically assumed that I am going to make something of myself. It's not as selfish a thought as it could be, my dreams have never been about making money, or getting a nice house, or driving a fancy car. My dreams are to contribute, to produce, to do something to make the world a better place. Perhaps I'd write a book that would change the way people think and live their lives, maybe I'd lead a church and revolutionize for the world the definition of the word Christian. I would become a great doctor of theology, a great professor of God's word, I would be remembered.
As the real world approaches I am caught wondering if any of that is probable or possible. The reality is that I probably won't be well known or well respected. As most people, I will probably not write a book that changes the world, and my church will probably not even be a footnote in church history. I may become nothing, I may do nothing, and I am NOT ok with that.
Now, I realize how selfish all this sounds, and I realize that my concerns here are primarily for myself and that's something I must also deal with. But my real issue here is my own identity and self worth. I have for a long time placed my self worth in what I produce and have defined who I am by what I know. This has proved to be a bad thing. It is a position of slavery, because I will never produce enough, I will never be as big as the next big shot, no matter how many Ph.D.'s I earn or how many books I write in the future. The me I want to be, the only me I will be satisfied with will always be in the future--never today, never within my reach. I cannot be me now until I stop with the titles and stop comparing myself with other people and their achievements.
It seems lately that God is trying to help me deal with this issue, he certainly does not want me to be enslaved like this. He wants me to be comfortable in my own skin even if it's the skin of a nobody. He has reminded me that my identity is not dependent upon titles or accomplishments. I recently saw the newest NOOMA which is entitled “Name” (possibly me new favorite). “Name” is about the very thing I have been dealing with. One small example is when Rob says, “we get hung up on how we’re different from her or we aren’t like him… some people are smarter… it’s just how it is. We’ll never live from our true selves when we’re comparing ourselves to those around us.” This is only a sample of what Rob was discussing and as you could guess it hit me like a truck going down hill.
Then last night I went, for the first time, to Senior Chapel… the chapel at APU which is only for seniors. Craig Keen, a theology professor at APU who I have not taken yet (I will have him for senior seminar next semester). He was speaking on the subject of freedom. He began by discussing what the sort of freedom he was talking about, the freedom we find in the pages of Scripture, is not. It is not, freedom to make good consumerist decisions, it’s not freedom to make something of oneself, and it’s not freedom from the distraction and responsibility of other people (in fact, it’s opposite of this one). In the English language, he told us, “freedom” and “friend” have the same origins, “they’re cousins” which means that freedom is befriending other people in a way. Freedom in Christ, is the same. The moment that “the holy God… came to us and invited us into fellowship… that is the moment we are set free.” What Craig ended up saying was that freedom in Christ is freedom from making something of oneself, it’s “freedom to give yourself away to a little church or little people with bad hair… to people who don’t matter.” Then he said something that I found to be painfully true to me—“Freedom in Christ is freedom to become nothing.” If I devote myself to people who don’t matter, give up celebrity, give up titles and achievements for normal people then that is enough, that is freedom. I don’t have to be anything other than what I am right now…
I am slowly moving toward being ok with becoming nothing—with freedom.