‘Identity, Belonging & Purpose’ (‘IBP’) are 3 deeply human values and needs. The questions “Who am I? Where do I fit? What am I living for?” confront us in periods of adolescence, mid-life, retirement, ill health, bereavement, divorce, empty nest, and between: jobs, homes, clubs, churches, friendships, crises, etc.
The human yearning for ‘IBP’ is illustrated in movies like: The Incredibles, Toy Story, Parenthood, Little Miss Sunshine, & TV Series: Roseanne, Modern Family, Friends, Life in Pieces & This is Us. There seems to be a universal yearning to be part of a family or people group, able to grow identity, belonging & purpose. Mike Breen cites ‘The Walking Dead’ as a curious example of a TV series (cf. ‘Lost’), which surprised pundits by its popularity. I couldn’t get past the first 20 minutes of Episode 1. Allegedly it’s a great example of ‘identity, belonging & purpose’: human survivors thrown together to fight for a cause worth living and dying for (survival of the human race in the face of zombie apocalypse). Sounding similar to our current Covid-19 fight?
We may be happy to find ‘IBP’ in family, friendships, work, hobbies & other routines of life. It’s often not till we face loss, forced change & transition that ‘Who, Whose & Why?’ questions press in on our existence & reasons for living. Tragically some conclude that there is no reason to live. On a recent jog down Harbourside I stumbled across the ‘driftwood handiwork’ of the NA Wellbeing & Recovery College, part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival. On railings across from the Water Sports Club hung crafted positive messages like “Sounds of the sea soothe the soul”, “Recovery is a journey not a destination”, “Be kind”, “Hold Fast” & “Don’t Quit”, “Every day a million miracles begin at sunrise”, etc. Like me many passers-by & observers of social media photos were inspired & encouraged by these positive messages.
In Netflix’s ‘Kindness Diaries’ Logothetis travels around the world dependent upon the kindness of strangers for food, shelter, petrol, etc, without accepting money. It’s fascinating to see so many stories of kindness. In exchange for their kindness, ‘Thetis ‘pays it forward’ by helping some realise their dreams by financially supporting their aspirations. It’s amazing how the ‘kindness cause’ spreads with the help of ‘Thetis and people like Danny Wallace, who accidentally created a massive cult following, by putting out an advert to join his ‘Karma Army’. All you need to do is send in a photo of yourself and commit to The Good Friday Agreement of doing random acts of kindness every Friday.
At Irvine’s Community Hubs, Churches & Groups & right across the town, shire, land & world many are being drawn into Christ’s Caring Cause. Many won’t recognise Christ as source of such ‘milk of human kindness’ but it flows freely nonetheless. Numerous people inspire me to give my all in compassion & kindness, especially Jesus Christ. Mother Tereasa overcame severe difficulties to follow Jesus onto the streets of Calcutta to realise human dignity, identity, belonging & purpose to discarded and dumped children. Our core DNA & identity is ‘beloved children of God’ and ‘brothers & sisters in Christ’, a ‘Family on Mission’. Learning from Jesus to ‘love God with our all and love our neighbour as self’ is worth living and dying for. It’s a gift of New Life, which Jesus literally gave His life for. Along with kindness, it’s an identity, belonging & purpose characterised, by faith, hope, love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness. How’s your IBP?