A couple days ago, I met up with a friend at Starbucks. We’d each brought a pile of forms and papers to work on, but instead we ended up talking about… Life.
Last week, I had my friend take the MBTI for the first time. I’d always suspected that we had a similar type; they tested as an INFJ. They’d read through their profile online and their mind was opened.
(Looking back, I realize it’d been foolish for me to expect us to work that day without addressing the test. How could we not talk about it?)
So they brought it up and we spent the next two hours talking extensively about our identities. They were learning that owning who you are is a crucial, if not the only, step towards forward movement. For so many years, they admitted that they’d been stuck in their minds and unable to accept themselves as they were. The world told them they were a failure and gave them a personalized list of definitions why.
My friend isn’t a church-goer. Religion has long since become a relic in their life, leaving only the faintest wisps of spirituality in their person.
As they continued to talk, I recognized that this was a divine hour. The shift in atmosphere was palpable and I felt it at once. I was standing at the gateway of one of those moments when the Spirit opens doors. I heard the urging in my heart: Share. Share. Share. I will hold their ears open but you MUST share now.
When my friend finished their train of thought, confessing their loneliness, their frantic flailing in what seemed like a sea with no promise of land, I in turn shared where I found my identity.
No mincing of words, no hesitance at stepping on toes. I credited where credit was due—the cross. Redemption. Love. Jesus. There is no other identity. If this is not my center, I have no other answer.
I talked and as I talked, I was pulling my lifeblood from my heart into my words. I talked and as I talked my spirit prayed and prayed, prayed for them to see and to understand and to know.
When I finished, my friend was nodding.
But no more than that. They detected that what I was saying held importance to me, but it was not a reality that they were willing to accept for now. “That’s good for you, but not for me.”
To be honest, I was a little confused. I’d been so certain, so sure that what I’d shared was meant to be spoken. I’d heard the Spirit.
Gad, was I that out of tune? That caught up in my own delusions? Maybe this was just one of those links in a chain of His design… Sigh?
My friend excused themselves not too long after that. I’d given them a lot to think about, they said, as they packed up their belongings. Are you going to stay here longer?
Yes, I said. I’m going to work on some things for a little while longer.
We said goodbye, promised to meet again soon, and I watched them walk away. And as I watched them walk away, I continued to wonder, What just happened? Why did I speak if it wasn’t the right ‘time’? I swear it was the right time.
I turned to face the woman sitting at the table behind me. I’d seen her reading her book when I’d walked into the coffee shop. I realized that I’d forgotten she was sitting so close to us. Oops. Hopefully she hadn’t been disturbed by my conversation with my friend.
“Yes? Gosh, sorry if we were too loud.” Please don’t tell me we were too loud please don’t tell me we were too loud damn it I should have been quieter.
The lady set her book down and looked me in the eyes.
“I’ve never heard anyone talk about identity like that. That test you guys were talking about and knowing yourself. And you talking about Jesus giving you real identity.”
“Ah,” I replied warily. Was this lady going to start going off on me about religion?
She laughed. “I know I was eavesdropping, but I couldn’t stop listening. I’ve been to church before, but I don’t go. It was just interesting to hear you talk about knowing who you are.”
She went on. I was smiling but inwardly screaming HOLY CRAP, IT’S YOU. YOU’RE the one I was speaking for!
It wasn’t an on-the-spot conversion or sudden confessions of sins or anything like that at all. But I spent another hour talking with this stranger about my certainty of God’s love for me. Hearts on the table. Love, recognized. Perhaps not quite understandable yet to her fully, but the realization that there is something more to be found at the foot of the cross that she hadn’t examined yet.
Last night I listened in on a bible study which covered the topic of identity. One thing the speaker said was, “Until we know Christ and embrace our reality in him, our faces lie.”
There is so much we try to hide and so much we lose in the act of doing so. Enough.
Face to face, we approach each other.
Heart to heart, we speak.
Life to life, we love.
There is no other way.