I had a friend who would spend his days as a cowboy. He wasn’t out on the ranch rounding up cattle, or a gunslinger, and he didn’t lasso wild bulls at the rodeo. He wore a Stetson hat, tight Wrangler jeans, expensive boots, the big belt buckle, listened to all of the country music of the current time and spoke with a ‘southern’ accent. He became this way within a short period of time. Overnight, if I recall correctly.
My friend and I were skateboarders just prior to this. We would have all of the latest gear, the coolest skateboards, dress in the popular grungy attire, listen to alternative / grunge music, build the ramps and find the best places within our town that provided the obstacles for us to perform our skateboard tricks. Rollerblading and BMX biking was also popular at the time, so they were also implemented within our lifestyle.
As my friend was losing interest in the dying phase of skater-life, I was moving in a direction that was the polar opposite of his choice to be a cowboy. I chose to be a “gangsta.” I actually thought the thug-life would be a great option. I would listen to rap music, start smoking “chronic” and change the way I would talk, which was more like an inner-city hood slang. Nothing like the talk I was using as a grungy skater kid.
We were kids. Just about every kid I knew at the time was trying to fit into a slot of some sort. We had the jocks, goth kids, the nerds, the car guys, the rockers, the perfect church kids, the not sures, the skaters and the cowboys. We had so many different images to choose from. If you became disinterested within one slot, you could move into a different one. Chances were, you would quickly become accepted by the others within your new category.
People grow up and move away from the days of trying to figure out who they are and how they identify. The days of having interests and forming a lifestyle around those interests pass away. I look at my life today and see all of these little remnants of the past within myself as I have moved far away from the younger years. I don’t smoke the chronic anymore, I sure don’t talk like a thug, I bought a pair of roller blades a few years ago, but I’ve never used them. I do ride my bike from time to time for exercise, but it’s a mountain bike. Nothing like the BMX bike of the earlier years. I still enjoy some of the alternative music, but rap is no longer found in my collection. Things have changed so much over the years. I suppose I have found a solid foundation for who I am going to be for the rest of my life within recent years. How I identify now is truly nothing like I’ve ever been before. As I’m looking at my life today, I see things that make me genuine, and not superficial.
I sometimes see the people whom I had gone to school with. Some of them are still stuck within their slots of the old days. They are still gangsta, they are still cowboy, they are still skaters, they still identify as something on the surface. They use an image to cover up the genuineness they lack, it seems. Sometimes I look at others and think, “Come on, we’re grown!” But, to each their own. I suppose some are just not very good at being themselves. I guess they have no confidence in anything deeper than what they place upon the surface.
I began reading the Bible several years ago. I read all of these things about identifying as He would have us: like Christ. I realized how the fallen nature and the world has a strong influence when it comes to how we identify. It is visible, and the majority of the Lord is not to us. He is mysterious, unseen, and our faith has to be strengthened in order for us to see His realness and truth. His mystery has to be thought of outside of our ‘show me’ mentality. As I learn about the Lord, have the many experiences within my personal life, and see just how evident He is within everything, I see just what the identity of all men and women is truly intended to be. He is the genuineness. He is the authenticity. We all have our interests, our personalities, our ways of being as we’ve grown into what we are today, but it is my prayer this morning that we all learn to identify ourselves as His. I pray that we all learn the truth of His Word and allow Him to reign over our superficiality. I pray that the surface never covers up the genuine character of Christ in any of us.