Have you ever seen those shows on The Learning Channel called "My Strange Addictions"? My family and I watched one the other day and it was so intriguing. The first woman would not cut her toe nails or fingernails. All she could wear was flip flops and her activity and mobility was greatly hindered by choosing to keep the nails so long. It was beginning to affect her health as she could not get proper exercise and was a diabetic.
The second lady was addicted to eating dirt. Yes, like from the ground. Her favorite was potting soil. This was affecting her health as well for obvious reasons. And it was also becoming a job risk since she was a landlord and was eating her tenant's soil.
Crazy I know! But there are enough people doing enough crazy things that The Learning Channel has made a series out of this stuff. Same way with the show Hoarders.
However my point in bringing this up is not to mock or judge someone, but because I noticed something I could identify with. The lady with the long nails emphatically said she would just die if she had to cut them. The lady eating dirt said she could not imagine not eating soil, that it was her life. And I've seen enough of the Hoarders show where they come to that same place; time to make a change, and it nearly does them in.
So how in the world do I identify with this? I have things in my life that if someone told me I could never have again, I might think I'd die. You do too. Don't think so? Lets see, I'll go first. Can I go a month without any refined sugar? I mean no chocolate, no gum, no dessert, no mints. NO SUGAR. I think I could do that. Maybe.
What about TV? Could I go 1 month without watching any TV at all? 30 days with no being a couch potato in front of the tube. Roughly 730 hours with no 2 hour movie breaks. Might not be too bad, for the first few days...
How about internet? Can I find some other way to occupy my time than plugging in and scrolling endlessly on all my favorite social media sites? Ok, now we are getting serious. But really, should need be, I could do it. Like if I was in a coma.
But let's take it a step further. What about my kids, or my husband. What if someone told me I couldn't be a wife anymore or I had to stop being a mom. How would I handle that? What would I do? Who would I be?
And here is where I identify with the people on those shows and see a lesson that I believe Jesus has been patiently trying to show me for years. Yes, I said years. I'm a slow learner.
There are a thousand things every day that I can choose to have my identity in. Here are a few without even thinking too hard: a leader, a homeschool mom, a minister's wife, and having a successful income. But what about those other identities that are choices too. Like victim, hopeless, or depressed. Or how about even less obvious affinities we take on like offended, right, or entitled.
If someone told me I could never be right again for the rest of my life? Whoaa! Now I understand the feelings of those people on those shows. I also understand more clearly than ever the heart of the prodigal son. How quick we are to put our identities in things, in positions and in attitudes that we don't know how to function without. Things that we do and are as much a part of us as breathing.
The heart of the prodigal son, and the older brother too, was a heart that was not satisfied in being the Father's son. They both wanted a different identity. The younger wanted independence and the older wanted honor. Neither could just rest in being their father's son and live a life fully in that alone. Oh the simple truth of my heart and the people on those extreme shows.
We have so many options all day long of who we will choose to be. My prodigal heart has come to its senses again. I realize that I am starving and apart from Christ, I am not worthy of the only identity that will truly fulfill me:
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1