Reality, dreams, and identity

I just finished watching Inception, which is another brilliant movie by Christopher Nolan. (Don't worry, I won't spoil anything.) But it has gotten me thinking about reality and how our dreams define us and how our identities shift based on circumstance.

I am reading a book called 1 L of a ride about navigating the first year of law school. In it, the author recommends that 1Ls (students in their first year of law school) write a list of the things that define them. Law school, he writes, changes people. People lose sight of their goals. People lose sight of themselves. It's understandable how that happens in a high-stress environment (studies show that law students have significantly higher percentages of anxiety and depression compared to the normal population, and even compared to med school students). But the problem of mistaken identity happens to everyone.

As children, our entire worlds are defined by our parents. For better or for worse, they tell us how the world operates. They tell us who we are. As we grow older, we would like to say "when I became man, I put childish things beside me," but that is not *entirely true. When we grow older, we are just defined by other things. We enter high school or college and are defined by our friends and our interests (but interests are often defined by one's friends.) Still, some are "anti-culture" and will "define themselves," but that is just subscribing to a different sort of culture. Later, people become defined by their jobs. Their vocation becomes their definition. The same happens with those who have suffered greatly or have had great success. The list goes on.

Just as others have said that "we are [chronic] idol factories," I believe that we are chronically listening to others to tell us who we are. I also think that the two are related. We either convince ourselves or allow others to convince us to exchange the truth for a lie. It is possible for lies to become our functional reality, forming the rules of our existence.

But what is true? What is honorable and praiseworthy? "Only God is Good." It is only in His presence that we can realize who and what we are. We are wretched creatures- sinners- in the hands of a justly angry but mercifully compassionate God. Just as the cure to a heart that loves idols is to learn to love God more, the cure to misplaced identity is to listen to the Spirit. It is He who allows us to cry "Abba, Father" and is the seal of our inheritance, a promise of things to come. There are many False Architects that attempt to define our realities, but if inspected by the light of Scripture, we can root out the liars and let the Great Author have His story back.

*obviously, I'm referring to the sentiment, not the Bible verse.