That’s what I’m calling it: “Lisa’s Identity Clause”.
It comes about from a collection of blog posts I’ve read on Lisa Graas’ blog looking at the issue of identity, and more specifically, identity as a Christian suffering from mental health issues.
The crux of “Lisa’s Identity Clause” is that we are not our disorder. For example, folk will say: “I am Bipolar”, but is this strictly true? Is this not to frame our entire identity on one facet. OK, this particular facet may permeate many areas of our lives, but it is not the entirety of who we are, or what makes us, us.
I understand the compulsion to embrace a psychiatric diagnosis and can certainly see how this may empower a person to more fully understand their own modes of behaviour and such. But I think it is an error to define ourselves entirely by this. There is no equivalent in the physical disease world; I mean, folk don’t go around saying “I am diabetes”.
I think that in our modern world identity issues are more prevalent than we might imagine, and in this regard it is no coincidence that Scripture urges us to take our identity from Christ. Our own identities may shift on uncertain sands, but His identity is fixed.
I think we as Christians have to be wary of too fondly embracing labels in order to define ourselves.
I’ll leave off my thoughts at this point and hand over to Lisa who articulates this far more eloquently and succinctly than I could.
I’ll finish with one of my favourite phrases which is: We suffer that we may comfort those that suffer.
By the way, it’s the Feast of St. Dymphna today, the Patron of those suffering nervous and mental afflictions!