I have been thinking a lot about identity as I have been studying over the summer. Shame (my topic of study) is one of those things that can have such an impact on identity. As a theological educator one of the things I am hoping for is to see students develop their own ministerial identity and as I reflect on ministerial practice for my thesis I read a book – nearly 30 years old but full of interesting insights. This is a quotation from it:
Agape requires that no help, however well-intentioned, should stamp out one’s own or another’s individuality. Genuine help must see each person, including the helper, afresh, as a new and separate being, for whom no real parallel exists in prior experience – the unique encountering the unique. Alastair V Campbell
Yesterday I shared on Facebook something from A Mighty Girl (https://www.facebook.com/amightygirl). It included a quotation from Meryl Streep:
“For young women, I would say, don’t worry so much about your weight. Girls spend way too much time thinking about that, and there are better things. For young men, and women, too, what makes you different or weird, that’s your strength. Everyone tries to look a cookie-cutter kind of way, and actually the people who look different are the ones who get picked up. I used to hate my nose. Now, I don’t.”
I have spent a long time working on valuing my uniqueness rather than wishing I was different and I would have loved to have been taught Campbell’s understanding of agape much earlier in my ministerial journey.
Alastair V Campbell Moderated Love A Theology of Professional Care. London: SPCK, 1985, p82-3.