You’re Too Small
I once had a friend get into a heated debate with me because of some people that they claimed I said, “…didn’t count, didn’t matter.”
Why had they come to that conclusion?
Because I disagreed with these people. I said that how I perceived them, in light of scripture, differed from how they perceived themselves.
To my friend, I was discounting their existence. This has been on my mind of late because of a number of weird pseudo-related things that have all been swirling about me. There is a rather famous C.S. Lewis quote that really sets up my idea nicely:
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
-C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses
We are far too easily pleased. We are far too content with petty, small identities.
So what defines me? What tells me and others who I am? This is where I find my identity.
Writer – This is an easy one for me to describe because I have absolutely sought to find my identity here. What are the markers? Fans, publication, being paid.
Chef – Another low-hanger. Although I wouldn’t say I have idolized this one like being an author. Markers: fans, technical mastery, acclaim.
I was once sitting in a cigar shop with a friend and we were having a discussion, as one does, and he introduced me to a friend of his as, “This is Gabe, he’s written like a dozen novels!” I was instantly chagrined. And when he asked why, I said that I don’t lead with that. That’s a small part of who I am. And it’s important to me that people, when they think of me, don’t think, “That’s Gabe, author of a dozen novels.” Why?
That’s not my identity.
It’s not who I am.
For a while, I was satisfied with that mud pie. I really was. In 2014 I had a few solid bites on the sci-fi trilogy I wrote. One agent asked for the whole thing. It was exciting. I was flush with pride and self-exaltation. And then, in mercy, everything collapsed. No one wanted it. And, by proxy, no one wanted me.
See what happened there? I wrapped my broken legs in braces of authorial fame. And then someone shattered those braces and I crumbled.
But it doesn’t even have to be so obvious or plain nor does it have to be something that is intrinsically prone to sinful adoption. I can find my identity in being a father. I can pride myself on having “good” kids. The product of all my hard work. They get to go to the best schools. They get the best scholarships to the best colleges. They marry a “good” person and have “good” kids of their own. But that vicarious identity is still too small, too sinful.
And in mercy, God will take that from me. Why? Because it’s a place only He can occupy, if He has changed my heart. Being an author or a chef or a dad isn’t wrong. But it can absolute usurp the identity I have in Jesus. And when it does? I am presented with a fork in the road.
On the one hand, I can insist that my will be done. I can tell God that instead of being His child, I want to be an author. I would rather have fans, and be paid to be creative, and hit best seller lists. And God absolutely might give me exactly what I want, how I want it. And it might end up being the bitter poison that leads me to destroy my life.
On the other hand, I can say, “I am Yours.” And so instead of being, Gabriel Posey, award-winning author, I’m just Gabe Posey, child of the God of the Universe.
Now, with it in such stark relief, which one is smaller and which one is bigger?
My desires for identity, in this life and based on this life, are minuscule and covered in mud. And so are many of yours. My point isn’t to say, “You can’t want to be an author, artist, musician, politician(well, probably), etc.” My point is to say, “Make whatever that broken part of your identity lower, smaller, subservient to your real identity.”
It’s not that what you want is too lofty or dreamy. As famous as Kanye is, unless His hope in life and death is Jesus, his identity is less than a grain of sand on the beach. Celebrity is a worthless endeavor. Money is a liar. Fame is a flashbulb from a disposable camera.
I want you to want a big identity. Why? Why would I want that for you and for myself? Because you matter. I tweeted this yesterday,
Not mattering *to this world* isn’t the same thing as not mattering. You matter even if everyone abandons you.
— Gabe Ain’t Playin’🐙 (@GabePosey) September 18, 2017
Jesus’ identity changed the whole world. No one else can say that. No one. Not Kanye. Not Emperor Constantine. Not Martin Luther. Not Osama bin Laden. Not John F. Kennedy. Not Stephen King. Not Rudyard Kipling. Not Bach. Not Rembrandt. Not Van Gogh.
And Jesus was abandoned by every single person. He was rejected. He was scorned. His ministry was an abject failure by all measurements.
He was not satisfied with a tiny slice of earthly glory. He was, instead, secure in who He was(is). And He calls us to that same pursuit. To recognize that we matter enough to God that He knows us down to a cellular level. We matter to Him when we die alone, in obscurity. We matter to Him when we have no job and no prospects. We matter to Him when we failed out of ministry. We matter to Him when we read Harry Potter for the third time instead of the bible. We matter to Him when we win the lottery. We matter to God and that is the security of our identity. It is where we ought to live.
Our identity is in Him.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Col 3:3