Leaving a Controlling Identity

“There’s a certain learned passivity about the spiritual life that is hard to program and hard to make popular. People who give leadership in spiritual direction, the good ones, that’s basically what they’re doing: they’re trying to train us and teach us how not to be in control of our lives; to enter into what God is doing already.”

~ Eugene Peterson

What is God “doing already” in us?  Do we even know?  Sure, when we enter the world, our name has been chosen for us.  Our parents have made plans for who they think or would like us to be.  But, what of race?

What position does it hold in our lives and what role does it play?  Race is not our parent; still, we allow it to name us.  We are socially colored black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige.  We are and will always be colored people, race men and women.  We are told, we believe and accept that we can be nothing else.

Race controls us; it will never leave us and we cannot exist a part from race.  For what are we without race?  Race makes us who we are,  right?  God forbid.

Race is not a part of what God has done for us or is doing right now.  Race is what we have done to us, against us and others.  We tell our children that they are colored, that this is the way that the world will see them.  We speak and live in what race is doing already, as if there is no time, no meaning, no relationships a part from race.  We behave as if we must always live in the presence of race, that race must control our every move, telling us who to talk to, where to go and who we are.

We are passive when it comes to race.  Our lives and their purposes just lie down and take it.  We don’t talk back.  We don’t speak up; we live our lives barely above a whisper for fear that we upset race (or the relationship that others have with it).  We tell ourselves that it’s not that bad, that things will get better, that we should be proud of race.  But, the truth is we allow race to control us and our identity.

However, when we become Christians not only are we made new creatures in Christ Jesus but God gives us a new name: “You shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give” (Isaiah 62.2).   If we cannot answer this question, then perhaps we have not learned the necessary spiritual passivity that is necessary to enter into what God is doing already.

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