Grievance as Identity

A few weeks ago, John and I sat next to a table of two couples at one of my favorite restaurants. The volume of their conversation was fairly high--more so than mine and John's anyway--so we found ourselves listening in. (Bethany...aren't you proud?)

One couple was a transplant from Seattle and the other from the northeast. Both were bonding over a mutual dislike of evangelical Christians. And I learned something about myself. I was fairly compassionate about their religious rant. After all, when you go looking for beautifully perfect God and encounter fully human church, the results can be painful. But then they started in on Texas...and suddenly, I didn't feel so compassionate.

This week has a story on a Twitter slam about Memphis that will likely cost a man his largest client, FedEx.

The thing is, in both cases, the "slammers" were defining their own identities through grievance i.e. We are certainly not this...and we are far above that.

Horribly, I can think of many times when I've done this. Defined myself in terms of what I'm not rather than in terms of who I am and "bitched" with others who felt likewise to both identify with them and to define my own identity.

Michael Lagocki of Art Love Magic said something amazing to me once: Compelling dreams beat burning platforms.

I think that statement is true of identity. Defining identity by celebrating what you are, rather than stating what you are not is far more compelling.

And infinitely harder.

1 comment

D Herrod said...

Being transplanted to another region of the country I can relate to the couples slamming Texas. For me Texas is home & I comfortable with the culture. I know what to expect. The foods and other things I like are easily accessible. Family and friends are nearby. It is familiar and known. Further, it has been challenging living in a city that is small compared to Ft. Worth. While it is not a small town it is 1/5 the size of FW.
Sometimes it can be quit a challenge to adapt.

Good point about not letting our gripes define us.

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Maira Gall