Not that long ago I was sitting in New York with some family friends, and as I listened to the conversation it struck me, we all have boxes we create to put others in so we can feel comfortable.
"Oh you know Rick, he's an Irish Catholic that works down on Wall Street" the matriarch said.
"Yea, he's married to Jean from that Orthodox Jewish Family." the man replied.
Over and over again, it seemed like everybody in their world was tied to a religious group, an ethnic group, or a vocational group which helped to qualify the conversation. Before long I started to think, "I wonder how I would indentify myself to others?"
I can try and put a claim on ethnic race, vocation, and religion, but in each instance I'm not really satisfied with the baggage each one of those answers comes with.
I'm white - which to my African-American friends might mean I'm a part of a majority class here in America who sets rules and has some advantage in life.
I'm Christian - which to my Jewish friends might bring back memories of oppression, crusades, or even holocaust.
I'm a University Graduate - which to my homeless friends carves out a 'silver spoon' kind of lifestyle unable to identify with the plight of those who weren't able to go to college.
I'm employed - which to the jobless around the world means I identify with the lucky ones who have the opportunity to provide for my family
I'm American - which to my Middle Eastern friends means I walk in tandum with the foreign policy decisions of my government
I'm from Colorado - which to the rest of America means I'm surely smoking weed any chance I get
Do you see how confusing it is to be put in a box where your identiy might not line up with what people think?
Of course these are all stereotypes and false at every comment, but we all do this. We all have little boxes we create so we can feel more comfortable about the relationships we get in. We all identify others, but how often do we identify ourselves?
If someone really wanted to know the core of who I am, without all the outside stereotypical boxes we create for one another; What would they find?
What would they find in your core?
Who are you when social media is turned off?
What are the character qualities you are consistently living by no matter who you talk to?
And maybe the more important question is, how do you begin to live by those core values so people can know you without the boxes?
I know what I want to be.
I know what I think I am.
But I'm taking inventory today to see how well I live those core identity principles to the world.
So today, take 15 minutes to think about who are you and see if there are blind spots in your life that may be putting you in a box you don't want to be in.
May we be people who live who we are at the core.
May we stand in the face of the fear of rejection so we can be who we were created to be.
May we thwart those things that take us to places where our actions don't line up with who we are.