Welcome back everyone! Last week, we talked about how when we make promises to ourselves to gain or avoid something (as I did going into college with my vow never to be mocked for my weight again), it can not only put us into chronic stress, but leave us with far less freedom in our lives because of the commitment we’ve made to something that we can’t even control in the first place.

But today, I want to take a more optimistic note, and talk about what it looks like to go in the opposite direction. If commitments made out of fear and insecurity can hold us back, then what about an uninhibited identity? What about personal commitments that direct our attention away from the self?

There is an idea here which may be in conflict with current societal trends—but I do not believe it has to be. Identity is a huge source of pride and meaning in life, but also in many cases a divider of people. Political identity, racial identity, and gender identity are a few of the hottest ones right now. No doubt many of you reading this are heavily and personally invested in at least one of those. And I want to make it clear right away that I’m not saying you shouldn’t be.

But remember that being physically fit is also, basically, a good thing. It is only once it reaches the point of being a need with which we are constantly absorbed that we must ask ourselves whether a line has been crossed somewhere. Has it become an expectation of control—over how others react to us, perhaps? Is it leaving us with less energy, less freedom, or less ability to relate to others?

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that if so much of what we feel and do comes from our identity, then we ought to be careful how we build it. We ought to try and choose not just what we feel we are, but what we can become. One of the great ideas of our age is to take pride in your identity. I half-agree with this. The problem is that the word “pride” has some very different meanings. On the one hand, it can mean “dignity and self-respect,” and of course I’m all for these!

But on the other hand, it can mean “pride” in the scriptural sense: ego, arrogance, and self-centeredness. It’s unfortunate that the language has congealed this way, because I believe this second sort of pride is the very worst thing you can build your identity on. C.S. Lewis once called the “complete anti-God state of mind.” There’s a certain kind of pride that is offended by those with different identities to themselves—and you can find these people on either side of just about any line you care to name.

Humility, as I personally define it, means simply believing the truth about yourself. It doesn’t require the concensus of others, nor is it frustrated by dissenting voices. There are far more big disagreements in the world than we can possibly address in one or even ten of these blog posts. But this, I think, is where civility and healthy conversations start.

Have a blessed, wonderful day!

Dr. Alex Loyd


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