Identity crisis

Do you sometimes wish you could be a different person than who you really are? Playing “pretend” is a harmless child’s game, if watched over carefully by adults. However, as adults do we continue to play pretend, trying to create for ourselves a new identity?  

There’s a child’s story titled, “Never Pretend What You Are Not.” I share it with you to set the theme for this article:

Once there was a crow that lived near a farmhouse. The owner of the farm had kept some pigeons and he fed them with grains regularly. The crow looked at the pigeons and envied them every day. Deciding to share the feed, the crow painted his body like that of pigeons and joined the pigeons as one of them. Thus, he was able to enjoy the feed daily. The pigeons never suspected anything foul. But one day, after the feed, the crow couldn’t control himself and started crying. The pigeons came to know that he was not one of them. They pecked at his body. So the crow flew away to save his life and went straight to his own brethren — the crows. But because of his painted body, they refused to accept him. So, he was forced to flee in order to save himself and became a homeless wanderer. 

Never be ashamed of who you are. When we pretend to be someone we’re not it’s usually to fill a void in our life. What we are really doing is borrowing another person’s identity. We want to do what they do, say what they say and be what they are. There’s no problem with this kind of role-playing as long as we make it our own and then live it as ourselves. Sometimes it’s easier to imitate role models that we forget to be ourselves. Isn’t that pretending or putting on a mask? What mask are you wearing today? Never be ashamed of who you are. 

We worry so much about what the world thinks of us. Rest your heart in God — He thinks the world of you! But, don’t give God the script for your life, rather accept His Will for you! In this way can you truly celebrate your life. 

In Matthew Kelley’s book, “Rediscover Catholicism,” he talks about this identity crisis. Who are we as a people, as a Church? He says, “We become what we celebrate. If you walk into most teen-agers’ rooms and look around, what occupies the places of prominence? Posters of rock idols and movie stars, who, for the most part, live lives unworthy of emulation; magazines filled with articles that subtly, and not so subtly, undermine the dignity of the human person and the values of our faith; iPods and CDs filled with music that redefine love as something selfish, and sensual; and video games that too often celebrate violence, depersonalize the human person, and stifle the individuality and creativity that define a person’s unique path toward God. We become what we celebrate.”

Who or what holds a place of prominence in your heart? We are all created for good and to be filled with all that is good. Yet, we fill ourselves with so much fantasy and imitation that we forget what is real anymore. We need to start rediscovering who we are as a people of God! Then, we can begin to rediscover our Catholic faith and become authentic people! It’s this authenticity that will help us not to manipulate others and not be manipulated by others. It’s this authenticity that will help us to not appear false to others and finally take off the masquerade. But why do we do it? What do we gain from it? I’ll tell you what we can lose from it: our relationships, our friendships and the trust we have for one another. 

In my daily prayers I pray for our Church to grow strong in faith, hope and love. I pray for our Church to celebrate life to the fullest at every moment. I pray that we will learn and grow to love being ourselves so we can love being Catholic. There will always be those times we fall or stray from the path God wants us on, but that’s no reason to give up on ourselves. Never be ashamed of who you are. When you do something wrong or someone does wrong to you, hate the sin but love the sinner. “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt 22:39).

Stop pretending and start being you, the person God created you to be! Live without pretending. Love without depending. Listen without defending. Speak without offending. No one likes loneliness.

God bless!

Anchor columnist Ozzie Pacheco is Faith Formation director at Santo Christo Parish, Fall River.

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