Susan Boyle sings a song specially written for her - "Who I Was Born To Be" - the central line being "I am who I was born to be..."
Everyone remembers her arrival on the stage of Britain's Got Talent. She might have said silently to the audience, as John the Baptist said to his audience, "I am not who you think I am..." because what the audience was thinking was that she was nothing. They wrote her off, sneered at the sight of her ever before she started to sing.
There was confusion about John the Baptist's identity from the beginning, about who he was. The expectation among his relatives at his birth was that he would be named after his father according to tradition but both his parents knew that God had another name and identity in store for him. He would be John and not Zechariah.
When he emerged into public ministry as a man there was confusion again. He was so impressive, so inspiring that the people thought he must be the Messiah. He could have gotten a swelled head and ran with the idea but he himself knew who he was and who he was not. He was sure of his God given identity and was rooted, grounded in it. He had the courage to say I am not the one you think I am. I am not the light. I am not the Messiah. I am the voice that cries...prepare a way for the Lord. I am a witness that speaks for the light. He must increase, I must decrease.
In celebrating the Birth of John the Baptist we are called to let the feast touch our own lives, to let his understanding of his identity lead us to a deeper understanding of our own identity. We can get caught up in a false self - having an inflated idea of who we are or an inferior one. In John there is no pretending one way or the other. He is who God created him to be. He is who he is meant to be.
This is what I am called to - to be who I was born to be. It is a central part of the spiritual education of a child that he or she is guided to discover their true identity and encouraged to grow into the fullness of it.
In life we experience the expectations, judgements, the ideas of other people about who we should be and it's very easy to give in and go with this. But we can also stand in our own truth and say to ourselves and to the world - I am not who you think I am; I am who I was born to be. I am the person God intended me to be from all eternity and life is about living that and letting others live what they are born to be.
Sometimes we feel we're passed it or that life, opportunity has passed us by - our purpose in life can become hidden with the death of a spouse, parent, child, friend. It came late to Susan Boyle to discover her new purpose, it took many years for he to become who she was born to be. It came late to Elizabeth and Zechariah to give birth to the son they were destined to have.
It's never too late; the blessings and purposes of the Lord are never finished but we have to somehow play our part in making it happen. Psalm 139 offers us the prayer "I thank you for the wonder of my being, the wonder of who I am". No can make me say that prayer or bring the profound awareness of my identity to life in me. I have to do it myself. The where-with-all to do it is given by God but I have to do.
Take a look in the mirror and remind yourself that you are looking at a wonder of God's creation. Do it without wanting to alter your appearance.
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