Losing Identity, Losing Sanity (Keller)

Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical

As many of our readers know, identity issues and crises are a dime a dozen in our culture today. It’s not just a gender thing. People also find their identity in what they do or don’t eat, their political views, their preferred method of schooling their children, their excursions and adventures, or their looks/image. And the list goes on. Timothy Keller has a good chapter on this topic called “The Problem of the Self” in his book Making Sense of God. I’ll cite a paragraph from this chapter below, but you’ll have to get the book to follow the larger (helpful!) discussion that ends with a great empahsis on finding one’s identity in Christ:

If we base our identity on love we come to the same cul-de-sac that we saw with the novelist who got his identity from work. Just as he could not bear poor work, so we will not be able to handle the problems in our love relationships. The writer had to believe he is a great writer in order to be sane. We will have to believe our love relationship is ok – if it goes off the rails, we lose our sanity. Why? If our very identity is wrapped up in something and we lose it, we lose our very sense of self. If you are getting your identity from the love of a person – you won’t be able to give them criticism because their anger will devastate you. Nor will you be able to bear their personal sorrows and difficulties. If they have a problem and start to get self-absorbed and are not giving you the affirmation you want, you won’t be able to take it. It will become a destructive relationship. The Western understanding of identity formation is a crushing burden, both for individuals and society as a whole.

Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, p. 131.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54002