Identity Slices

Who am I? It’s the question I’ve asked myself over and over

“Being adopted into God’s family doesn’t mean that I no longer take pride in my heritage. I see clearly now how God has designed a rescue plan in advance to gather his children, providentially, where all my ancestors played an irreplaceable role in my salvation story and the story of our future generations. I refuse to forget the toil of their hands and determination to give their future generations access to liberty and comfort.”

 

Who am I? It’s the question I’ve asked myself over and over. Left unanswered, I made countless attempts to leech onto silly new identity trends for validation. However, in the depths of my soul, I was convinced and terrified that I had no real identity.

Who Am I?

To the whites, I am the Jamaican-American girl. I can’t quite blend in. I’m black, but that’s okay because most people love Jamaicans. They love Bob Marley, the beach, Jamaican cuisine, our accents; the whites made me feel proud of my roots and I delighted to clothe myself with this Jamaican identity.

However, upon my visit to this beautiful island, I saw that my attire didn’t exactly fit. My identity was built on stereotypical views of Jamaicans. I didn’t know any of the top artists, I couldn’t cook like my mother, and I had the strongest American valley girl accent in my town. While the young Jamaicans talked about the things a Jamaican should know, I felt out of the loop. I didn’t belong.

Among African-Americans, I was the white girl.According to them, I spoke like a white girl, my mannerisms were white, and I liked white people’s music. Consequently, I failed to pass the audition for American’s best black crew.Incomplete slices of many identities; who was I really?

One night, while on the phone with an acquaintance, the enemy (the devil) shot a flaming arrow straight through the bull’s eye of my deepest insecurity. This acquaintance was insisting that he was better off than me because he knew where he came from. He told me that I was certainly not Jamaican and even if I claimed to be, it was nothing to be proud off. “As soon as your ancestors boarded those ships, all of that culture was lost. You are wandering! You are lost! Just look at your “white” last name. You have no identity!”

I tried to defend myself, “Anyway, my identity is in Christ…” With a quick click, I disconnected the line. I sobbed because, even when I uttered those six last words, I knew deep down I didn’t believe it. I was still trying so hard to find my place of belonging on earth.

A Perfect Adoption 

The enemy attempted to discourage me with a tactic that actually helped me to realize the dangerous waters some are treading in. We are searching to belong somewhere, anywhere. I see my young black brothers and sisters taking on the newest hip-hop styles, mocking the behavior and attitudes of the hottest black celebrities, or even going as far as denying or hating their blackness — all with the intentions of finding their rightful place. 

After the humiliating incident, suddenly the veil on my eyes had lifted and I read Paul’s letter to the Ephesians again and again. The Spirit revealed to me the depths of these truths, and my eyes welled up with tears of joy.

These Gentiles that Paul refers towere paddling in the same kayak as me:

“Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision…remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world[emphasis mine].”  (Eph. 2:11-12)

I felt separated from the whites; I felt alienated from my ancestor’s land; I felt like a stranger to the African-Americans, and I was labeled a white girl. But God was showing me that feeling this way isn’t as detrimental as the state I was in before I knew my Savior: having no hope and without God in the world.

Paul was reminding, not only the Gentiles in Ephesus, but me and you, that we have been especially chosen by God and adopted into his family (Eph. 1:5). We should rejoice in this perfect adoption! Our Heavenly Father basically shares EVERYTHING with us: forgiveness and redemption (Eph. 1:7), secrets (Eph. 1:9), the Counselor (Eph. 1:13), divine power (Eph. 1:19), an inheritance (Eph. 1:11) and most of all an identity — a place where we finally belong.

“So then you are no longer strangers and foreigners[emphasis mine], but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,” (Eph. 2:19).

For the first time in my life, I felt like I finally found my true identity. God was speaking directly to my wounded heart. “You are no longer a wanderer! You have a home, you have an identity, and you belong to ME, the God of the Universe!”

Predestined

Nonetheless, being adopted into God’s family doesn’t mean that I no longer take pride in my heritage. I see clearly now how God has designed a rescue plan in advance to gather his children, providentially, where all my ancestors played an irreplaceable role in my salvation story and the story of our future generations. I refuse to forget the toil of their hands and determination to give their future generations access to liberty and comfort. This is the slice of Jamaica that I can proudly say I belong to. I am the product of wonderfully and fearfully made black warriors that loved God and labored for my well-being.

I will gladly take part in my American side as well, becauseI know that, for His glory, God chose this land to be my birthplace. I think so highly of the black and white brothers and sisters who sacrificed their lives so that the future black generations could have a taste of the American Dream. The foundation of America was built on strong black hands, calloused and bloody from years of oppression. This is the slice of America that I belong to — the slice that endured long suffering yet continued singing praise to the Almighty God.

I also take pride in this beautiful black skin that God has predestined for me. Black skin is a symbol of God’s strength because no matter what hardships and persecution our ancestors faced, they were able to make it through with fortitude and determination. God has faithfully kept his people for his purposes! 

Give Me My Slices

We can ask ourselves this question: Is what I’m thinking, feeling, or searching for bringing me closer to Christ or this world?

Every time I ventured out identity hunting, it was my flesh yearning to be praised and recognized. Subconsciously, my aim was worldly acceptance, and Jesus cautions us that this behavior will cause us to lose our lives (Matthew 10:39).

Look up. God is the only Being that can fill us in on who we are.

So… give me these slices and I will tell you exactly why my earthly identity is mixed with Jamaican chocolate pudding, American brownies, and topped with a dollop of delicious white whipped cream. God didn’t make any mistakes when designing me. My hope is that all of God’s children can also find their identity in the image that they were so wonderfully and gloriously created in!

This article first appeared on www.raanetwork.org, and is used with permission.



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