The media has made much of the Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner issue lately. Indeed, it’s been a “media circus”. Every publication, news site, magazine, talk show, etc. has been broadcasting the story, much to the delight of those on the left, and to the chagrin of those on the right. The secular progressives celebrate Jenner as “heroic”, “courageous”, “inspiring”, while social conservatives lament the issue as “moral decline”, “societal erosion”, “sexual revolution gone mad”. Jenner’s “transformation” has truly become indicative of the times we live in.
I remember Jenner as a national hero back in the 1976 Olympics. Winning the vaunted Decathlon, a grueling 10-event achievement, Jenner was catapulted into the international spotlight. As a young runner in junior high, and rather puny at that, Jenner was my hero. I admired and looked up to him, wanted to run and compete like him, and overcome all obstacles as he had. He was the ultimate athlete and “manly man” to me, and he inspired me to work hard and give my best in the various sports and running events I participated in.
I’ve not “kept up with the Kardashians” and Jenner over the years, considering it all to be ridiculous, meaningless spectacle. I’ve deemed it a shame that my one of my favorite athletes from adolescence had found himself among such a crazy bunch of media hogs. Then to see this gradual slipping into something different, and now of course the whole “Caitlyn” thing, actually saddens me, to be honest. Jenner, once this power house of athleticism, has become a caricature of sorts, and a telling commentary on our times.
Yet as I think about this, I am struck by a truth that few are addressing. Everyone wants to have a solid identity, a way of being seen, respected, accepted in the world of humanity. Sadly, people try to pin their identities on so many different things- the “wolf of Wall Street” who finds his/her identity in trading and profits; the guy who thinks the hot sports car gives him the cool identity he so longs for; the woman who pins her self-esteem to her body and physical appearance, spending thousands to fight age and gravity; the lonely teenager who finds an alternate reality/identity in violent and otherworldly video games. Jenner is no different. We all struggle to find who we really are, why we are here.
But none of these can ultimately satisfy at the soul level, none can fill the deep need to be known and loved unconditionally, none can give us our true name, our real identity. The only one who can give us that is our Maker, our Savior, our Redeemer, who gave us His Son Jesus Christ, that we may be restored and fulfilled. Man’s sin nature and fallen state could not be self-remedied, could not be dressed up, Photoshopped or reinvented. Our lost identities had to be redeemed, revived, by the only One who could. God our Father, through His Son’s personal sacrifice, offers us our real identity, our true name, our intended purpose. In fact, God is the only one who has the right (and responsibility) to assign and define our true self. Every other avenue, every other pursuit, will only end in disappointment, disillusionment, and destruction.
May Jenner, and all of us walking this stuff of earth, find true identity in the arms and heart of our Creator and Savior.
“I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:14
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in the them.” Ephesians 2:10
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away, and behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17