“True Identity” by Tiffany Deonna Martin
“True Identity” by Tiffany Deonna Martin
Bible Version quoted: The Scriptures 1998 & 2009: Copyright by the Institute for Scripture Research (ISR).
February is Black History month. It is a special time of reflection and remembrance for Americans. As a southern bred, African American woman, I grew up hearing vivid stories that span from cotton picking, segregation, marches and underdog victories to brown paper bag tests, hair-fros, Flo-Jo, the return of bell bottoms and patchwork leather. Speaking of which, I did actually inherit a quarter length patchwork leather jacket from my great-grandmother, whom we affectionately called “Big Mama.” She upheld this name because she was so strong and statuesque, and acclaimed for beating a robber all the way down the street who dared to attempt to snatch her purse. Mind you, she beat him good fashion like a true lady – with her purse!
Undoubtedly, African Americans have worked hard to build this country; uniquely inspiring and succeeding in all industries and facets of our society despite the odds. I’ve added my two cents, too. And it’s nice to commemorate these moments. But, as the days pass, the more and more I experience discontentment and apathy for things which I was once held so dear, like Black history month. There’s a subtle sense of displacement, discomfort and misfit. Not so much because of my skin complexion, or the ups and downs of the African American journey; and not because those remembered are any less important. Rather, a deeper longing to identify with and be a part of something much bigger and grander than that which is limited to the history books of this world. To be “special” in a good way – with lasting significance that can’t fade away like the ink of a textbook or turn of a trend. You know what I mean?
So, I look to the Word and discover that 1 Peter 2:9-11 references ‘sojourner’ and ‘pilgrim’. It’s not about Sojourner Truth or the Puritans. Nope! It speaks of my true identity… and YOURS as a follower of Christ. Sojourners and Pilgrims are unsettled pursuers of a more fit existence. The world thinks us strange and rightly so! By virtue of a newness that comes with the spiritual birth, we are strangers seeking a glory and destination other than upon this current earth. We seek the eternal. The longing for ‘heaven and home’, as sung in the classic spiritual “His Eye is on the Sparrow”, is a result of our walking in our true identity:
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a set-apart nation, a people for a possession, that you should proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of the darkness into his marvelous light, who once were not a people, but now the people of Elohim; who had not obtained compassion, but now obtained compassion. Beloved ones, I appeal to you as sojourners and pilgrims…” I Peter 2:9-11
To be chosen suggests “a hand-picked, rare find.” To be royal priests clearly indicates significance, stature and service with a higher purpose and inheritance. To be set-apart (holy) is to be like The Most High Himself—separate and distinguished from the worldly ways (Leviticus 11:44, I Peter 1:13-16). To be a possession signifies a cherished treasure who belongs and is loved with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). This is indeed the call of those who profess belief. His mark of distinction – the inner working of the Set-Apart (Holy) Spirit – is the evidence of the greater, grander thing to which we belong, The Kingdom of The Most High. To come into the fullness of this true identity and find our names permanently written in the “well done” chapter of the eternal books at the end of our sojourning is what I want to celebrate. Plus, I’ll get to see my Big Mama!
May honor and respect be given to whom it is due – to the sung and unsung heroes of Black history and beyond. More so, let us not get too comfy in a ritual of any kind. Rather we choose daily to be more and more of what He has declared of us – chosen, royal, set apart unto Him. Let us do so in remembrance of Him, proclaiming even louder with our life His honor and praises during this pilgrimage. Truly, this is our reasonable observance (Romans 12:1-2).