Identity Struggle - Divine Physics
A reflection of a Catholic worker.
Who am I?
The ultimate question St. Francis asked the Lord in Mount Verna, his Golgotha. A powerful question that changes everything.
What are some stages of struggles when finding existential identity?
Growing up in emerging countries, living in wealthy nations, living with other faith communities, and constantly surrounding myself with stories of saints, all encyclicals and early fathers are the keys for me to finding an answer that fits everything.
When we are constrained, we want to be free.
I stayed in impoverished villages a few times and helped the poor in San Francisco with Missionaries of Charity.
I learned that those in collective cultures accept their situation and seek warmth and love from their neighbors out of a lack of possibilities. It became one of the best places to feel compassion and love. Those who live more individually struggle to get better more because communal efforts do not exist. They can die when they stop moving forward.
But both sides always long for an exit even when they stop believing there is a way out. Living in such a situation triggers our survival behavior that does not focus so much on who we are. However, given the unmasking of self, the humble heart makes it easy for them to approach Christ. The promise on Mt. Olive becomes so close, and their simplicity is a perfect gateway to Christ. The hope in Christ is easily digested as their true identity, for it is the perfect hope that God placed on His creations. Life is temporary anyway.
Note — I truly believe divine poverty is one of the most beautiful things one can adopt to follow Christ. What I describe above is simply the material and spiritual when being in the situation. So as for all points below.
When we become suddenly free, we are confused.
I’ve seen so many neighbors who could make their way out to fulfill their basic needs out of poverty. These days, there are two major reactions in this group: either they are afraid of poverty and work as hard as hell to climb up and be rich, to help family and neighbors. Or, they go after and try everything out in life to find what they love.
The former becomes a protector, a control of self-life, or others. The common temptation in this stage is that one no longer relies on God as much as their own self. The community around them starts looking upon them, bring them away from the Lord, who is the source of everything. One might start believing that their identity is to provide and protect others, mistaking a particular act of mercy and love as their own identity. This identity is sticky because it forms rooted pride that produces fears of losing control.
The latter comprises those who truly want to know everything, many of them are quick to adopt a false identity that they are a learner, traveler, explorer, thinker, or anything that describes expansion. This identity usually does not last long for decades, for they realize that exploration does not bring value to others without being presented as a mercy to others.
When we’ve learned the world, we make a choice.
Again, there are usually two outcomes for those exploring, those who move forward and those who don’t. One that becomes a wise figure for they’ve seen more, and those who realize they can rest on one thing they find meaningful.
The former usually becomes a great figure or someone people look up to that they cannot stop exploring, creating a constant effort to find satisfaction, acceptance, or love from others. However, they become the seed of hope for those who seek a better life. The temptation in this stage is that we might feel we are the source of hope and falsely making others to follow what we do, what we know best, and to replicate others to become another us, instead of assisting them to be the best them in Jesus.
The latter commonly choose an identity they can affiliate themselves to bring value to others, whether religion, public service, charities, or job. These people stopped searching proactively and became more agile individuals who try and change until it becomes better. There are plenty in these days who comfortably associate themselves with a famous position, say, CEO, Senator, Impact Maker, Engineer, Doctors, Noble Price Winner, Influencer, you name it.
When our choice doesn’t fulfill us, we keep changing it.
While it is not common for people in 2020 who start making a visible impact to keep jumping around from one identity to another, when we fail or to preserve one’s status, it is common for one to work their way up in the ladder to increase self-worth and any kinds of impacts. One either feels envy of others' power and status or realizes that their choices are not for them.
For the first, it is highly tempting for one to ignore the 1st & 2nd effect in our other articles and start fighting for their own worth to create a higher 3rd effect. Sterile usually becomes overlooked, for they have rooted their identity so strongly in their status and power. 1st & 2nd effect gives no such power and status and often forms an individual who thirsts for power, title, or money.
The latter realize that something is not fulfilling, therefore humbling themselves to be a loser in society to try things out. The highest struggle in this situation is those who try to ask why they truly exist. For one who knows not Jesus, would struggle to find the most satisfying answer. Such an answer could destroy the entire false image that one holds on so strongly. It is very tempting to formulate the meaning of life in us that actually justify our past, shallow, non-everlasting, or derives from error.
The best example at this age is to look at Elon Musk, for he knows his vision and meaning derives solely from an individual's function to find meaning. He knows that his meaning of life is not perfect, but there is a possibility of him persisting to find a new framework that justifies his previous definition of meaning. For if Christianity comes, his entire achievement might be viewed as a potential sterile.
I am by no means judging him, I think he is doing great stuff and hope he will continue, but I think I want him to know Christ more than doing his rocket and boring company, for his own soul.
We are restless until we rest in Him.
Now there are very few people who understand and have the gut to eliminate worldly views and approach Christ and be a true disciple. The bottomless pit in one’s heart that triggers the search for identity can be closed only by the encounter with Christ. Some might try to enter the spiritual realm finding meaning, but one might get stuck in the extreme happiness it offers that does not really fill one’s heart in a relationship.
God is relational, and we are relational. Eliminating such a factor tempts one to find spiritual happiness by ignoring Jesus, eliminating the possibility of attaining perfect happiness. But for those who rest in the Trinity,
“they shall not want.”
Now, they actually still want, but for the love of Him. Not for the happiness of self. This is when discernment, fasting, prayers will be crucial.
Let our identity be clear,
We are disciples of Jesus Christ, adopted children of the Father, called to love.
If one is rooted in this identity, when everyone acknowledge you by your effort to love (God or others), we would not need to box ourselves to a mere title, function, or other confusing identities.
The stage is irrelevant.
I don’t think it matters which stage one is at and will move to. This article is also not meant to generalize people’s holiness or undermine their efforts in life. The only intent in this article is to show, there are challenges when one goes through the process, and without Jesus, one will not find true fulfillment. Blessed are the poor, they theirs is the kingdom of God. It is harder for the rich to enter the kingdom than Camel to go through a needle, for the successful and rich who build the framework outside of Truth, face fears and resistance when the Truth indicates.
Disclaimer — Catholicer is a lay movement within the Catholic Church. This reflection is not meant to represent the Roman Catholic Doctrine, Theology, or Teaching. Catholicer promises unconditional obedience to the Roman Pontiff and his successors. Languages found in our articles might not be accurate both in the philosophical arena and even in English. We expect potential doctrinal errors in this article, therefore, should be used for a potential approach to Jesus, but not holding onto any information here as final Truth. We are not affiliated to any non-Catholic organizations or try to propose a non-Catholic view, if such occurrence is visible, it is due to our own reflection. We will change our articles without notices if we think it contains non-negligible errors.