Who am I? A Masterpiece, Mistake, or a Brilliant Mess? (Propaganda ‘It’s Complicated’)
I feel like as people we all have this identity crisis, right? There are two things: we either are filled with pride and make ourselves out to be the highest high, or we patronize ourselves into silence thinking we are worthless because of our sin and without the hope of redemption. Some of us side with one, or if you’re like me you cycle through them both at an exhausting rate.
“But you are so often so wrong about you and you don’t even know it
Self-identified as particleboard, paper maché, duct taped
And we are wrong and right, and confused”
“It’s Complicated” by Propaganda gets to the heart of many aspects of our struggle to be known and define ourselves according to our Creator. As he says above: we are wrong about ourselves. We make ourselves so small, so fragile, so misshapen. Prop says we’re right, we’re wrong, and we’re confused.
As Christians, we can often err on the side of calling ourselves dirt and stopping there. We could make humanist cry with our low view of humankind and often this self-deprecating talk can make us believe we have nothing in life that we could do to honor God. People’s intention in focusing on man’s weakness is often done with good intent, but in some cases, I fear it tears down the person and gives God no place to restore and use His vessel.
I struggle with this and understand this isn’t all Christians. I also realize our temporal form and where we fall short is vital in understanding what grace offers. But God gave us spiritual gifts, creative abilities, a reservoir of talents and hopes. I just cannot believe that these are to be sat on. I cannot think that they are to be stifled, but rather to bring glory to the Father.
On the other hand, is the belief that often draws people of faith away from God. We can and are enticed by believing in a god within us instead of God with us. Part of me gets it. When you are told your whole life you’re dust and to dust, you’ll return and there’s no proper doctrine to follow that, it makes sense that you’d be romanticized by a belief that told you, ‘you are the light, you are a god yourself’.
It’s comfortable to believe in yourself. It feels great to think ‘I only have to answer to myself and do what I want to do’. That is alluring. But there’s a problem with this glorification of humankind. It’s not a high view of humans, as I believe God has, but rather a glorification of man to replace God. This doesn’t work either because I feel really bad for ya’ll if I’m a goddess, you’re a god, we’re all our own little rulers. Number one cause I’m crazy, number two if we’re all right than what’s wrong? We can’t all be light, because we all have dark spots.
I think that both camps get it wrong because both focus on humankind, not God. Whether I think I am the best or the worst – I am consumed by those thoughts. They dictate my existence. Either I am living in constant shame or I am finding the pinnacle of value within the walls of my limited view. I become obsessed with either option instead of resting in the identity that I am my Father’s likeness. I think Propaganda sums it up perfectly:
“We may scratch ourselves raw to erase the image we were made in
Smoke, snort, sex or drown out the silence
We may waste our life-savings on makeovers
To try to rhinoplast our daddy’s nose away
But no nip, no tuck could cut away the sense of obligation
We are becoming what we’re not
But what we are is inescapable
You are a masterpiece fighting to be a silly selfie with a hideous filter
You are heaven’s handmade calligraphy
Slumming it among papyrus fonts
You are the complete and perfect works
Of a perfect and eternal poet laureate
With a laundry list of identity issues”
It’s not about us worrying if we’re the best or the worst. It’s about being “heaven’s handmade calligraphy” and YOU are. I want to be defined on my own. I want to take the glory or the shame because that’s what people seek: attention, worth, affirmation. Yet, God took our need to look for those things when He made us in His image. We cannot boast being the best or worst, we can only boast being His creation, His child when we believe. We listen to the lies that tell us to improve ourselves, to fashion ourselves, to perfect our flaws, to give in to distraction, to give up on what’s hard, to stay quiet cause we’ll mess it up or get in the way.
All of these matters revolve around us. We are masterfully created, yet trying to recreate ourselves entirely until we no longer see God, but our own reflection. That reflection will have to live up to all the inexhaustible, tired, surface standard of humankind. To strip ourselves of God is not freedom. To strip ourselves of God is to remove our image, to defile our True Identity. We are a masterpiece that would rather be a silly selfie. That’s on point.
Propaganda gets it right. We are complicated. My mind is one complicated place. There’s a mess of stuff up there that I don’t even know how to talk about most times so I just write. I get pulled by both ends. I have a high and a low view of myself and want to call myself my own. So often I want to be woman-made, not God made. It’s hard. It doesn’t always feel good to be content in being created when you’ve got the pride that I do. I am hungry to be my own maker and my own solution.
Yet, while all of this is swirling around: I think of how much I love words. I think how I care for and about the things I’ve penned – the things I’ve created. I think to myself this isn’t even a fraction of what God has for us. We are messy, shouting pieces of art, but we were made by the mind that thought up the greatest artists of all time.
“You are the rightful heirs to not just a kingdom
But a universe and you have your daddy’s eyes
Stop being so traitorous
You are Revelation revealed”
Let’s end with my favorite line in this whole song. “You have your daddy’s eyes.” This gets me. Not like they are brown, or almond-shaped, or how your gaze sits, no – God gave you His eyes. Can we sit with that for a second?
That’s beautiful. We think about being in His image, but not often what it means to have His eyes. God has eyes that see perfect justice, eyes with the perspective that all people are worth being relentlessly pursued, eyes that look at souls, eyes that seek what is righteous and holy. I want those eyes. I pray that God gives us the ability to look through His eyes instead of our own. Not only does having His eyes mean I see other’s as they should be, but then I also lose my identity crisis because I see myself through the eyes of the Creator.