“One day…,” a mother began telling her son his bedtime story.
“An African native found an eagle’s egg on the ground. Not knowing where to
return it, he placed it amongst the eggs of a chicken.”
“When the eaglet hatched, it started following the other chicks. In fact, it began thinking it was a chicken.”
“One fine day when the sky was clear, the eaglet was startled by a great shadow over him.”
“He looked up and saw a beautiful majestic eagle soaring high up in the clouds.”
“The young eaglet was so amazed that he stopped eating.”
“When the mother hen noticed what he was staring at, she said, ‘Don’t even think one second about it. You will never become like that!’”
“Sad, the eaglet hung its head and started pecking at the ground for seeds.”
“Will the eagle ever fly, mama?” the boy eagerly asked as he sat up from bed.
“We shall see, dear…,” his mother winked at him as she settled him back on the bed.
* * *
Fortunately, we’re not born out of misplaced eggs! Unlike the rest of creation, man was created by God in a very special and loving way: in His own image and likeness. This unique place of man reveals his mission within creation and we could call this his ‘creational identity.’
This identity includes all of the rich realities embodied by the human person: intellect, will, freedom, and also other aspects as biological, sexual, religious and social, etc. God deigned all of these to be part of every person because they somehow ‘write’ a singular life story and together are meant to help man attain the purpose –both human and divine– intended for him by the Creator.
Now man’s perfection lies in the proper use of his freedom to integrate all these God-given gifts. Our first parents, however, chose otherwise. Misusing their freedom, they somehow ‘un-natured’ themselves by opposing the ‘creational identity’ meant by God for their own good.
Thankfully, God isn’t one to give up easily on man. He accepted patiently this rejection and converted it into the very backdrop of a ‘new creation.’ A recreation that would endow man with an unheard of capacity for the divine: to become God’s adopted children. And God carried out this saving plan through His Son Jesus Christ.
“Jesus Christ,” says Pope Francis speaking about the roots of fraternal love, “who assumed human nature in order to redeem it, loving the Father unto death on the Cross, has through His resurrection made of us a new humanity, in full communion with the will of God, with His plan, which includes the full realization of our vocation to fraternity.” (Address for the World Day of Peace 2014, no. 3)
However, despite this new offer, man still possesses the freedom to accept or not –like our first parents– this gift of his true identity. The consequences of sin upon human nature, though not corrupting, make him prone to disorders interiorly stemming from his passions and exteriorly from dysfunctional family, social and cultural factors.
One manifestation of this personal disintegration today is seen in the widespread psychological, sexual and social insecurities and complexes. Instead of perceiving these personality crises as invitations to practice virtue and to be guided by the new humanity offered by God, some attempt to justify deviancy by masking or making it fashionable by donning on sophisticated personality labels. Such individuals cling to the hope that their fragile labels would provide some justification and refuge for their lack of personal integration.
Swapping ‘identity labels’ can only go as far as to appear as something else, but nominal tags never change reality for what it was meant to be by God. For example, the label ‘honey’ pasted on a jar of vinegar will not make vinegar sweet. Nor does any doctor imagine curing cancer by simply crossing out ‘cancer’ and replacing it with ‘hypertension.’
Thus, the attempt to ‘label and re-label’ real disorders in man is at most being mediocre in treating the real causes of one’s problems, having a pessimistic stance and lacking in personal sincerity in facing one’s problem. Personal humility and a sincere openness to God’s mysterious designs are necessary to embrace what may seem disorderly and difficult to comprehend in our personality and life.
St. Josemaría, in his sincere desire to help someone, did not mince words when counseling: “Don’t say: ‘That’s the way I’m made… it’s my character.’ It’s your lack of character: Be a man! (They Way, no. 4)” Here, to be a man doesn’t only refer to one’s sexuality, but to the totality of man as God’s son.
If one earnestly seeks to be what God wants him to be, he will be able to grow through life’s confusing and complex physical and moral trials. He will be able to courageously step away from manmade pseudo-identities that do nothing but obscure his perception of God’s grace and plans.
In his new humanity patterned after Christ, the person will no longer be alone, he will be true to God and himself. And he will now find strength in things which before were only a source of weakness and misery for himself and others.
* * *
“The farmer, pitied the growing eaglet acting like a chicken.”
“When the right time came, he brought him up to a high mountain.”
“At the edge he perched the now grown eagle on his arm and urged it to ‘fly!’”
“At first the eagle was scared of the mountain’s height and the brilliant huge sun.”
“Then the farmer jerked his arm, the eagle naturally spread its wings and took to the air, climbed the clouds and finally embraced the sun!”