Sunday, February 25 , 2018, 9:42 am | Fair 56º


D.C. Collier: Mankind Grapples with a ‘Cinderella Syndrome’

“What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason!
how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how
express and admirable! in action how like an angel!
in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the
world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me,
what is this quintessence of dust? man delights not
me: no, nor woman neither, though by your smiling
you seem to say so.”

— William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Hamlet to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern

We are born with an aching hunger for significance and identity. Dumped unceremoniously into this world from a perfectly secure womb, slapped into consciousness and handed over to seemingly total strangers, our first taste of life can be most unsettling.

What follows often adds to that impression — never-ending childhood injuries, voices telling us not to do things and, though loved, constant reminders that we’ll need a lot of work to become an acceptable member of society.

Throw in a few rounds of schoolhouse bullying, critical teachers and mean friends, and is it any wonder that most of us find ourselves in the middle of a three-alarm identity crisis?

Who am I? What am I here for? Where am I going?

The first lesson in getting along comes early. It goes like this: be “good,” and people will accept you; be “bad,” and they will reject you. The second lesson, not unlike the first, is: you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.

From the start, we are delivered a paradigm that we must struggle to earn the approval of others and thus derive an identity as being either “good” or “bad.”

Because everything in life seems to work that way, when we get around to thinking about God, this “earning” mentality comes along for the ride. That is why religions that tell us to do something are so popular — they make sense, and we’re told that we can make it if we just try hard enough.

Could we be missing something here? Have we been “ripped off” without even knowing it?

Identity theft is a modern-day scourge that threatens anyone with a Social Security number, driver’s license or credit card (so, pretty much everybody). Sadly, the dark shadow of criminal intent seems to follow each successive advance in technology, and the results can be devastating, as one person’s identity becomes another person’s means of enrichment.

Spiritual identity theft is no less devastating and occurs when the Devil can convince anyone that they don’t matter, aren’t precious and have no potential.

Remember Cinderella? In his book, The Sacred Romance, author John Eldredge wrote:

“Cinderella lived with her stepsisters, a shrewish pair who made her sleep with the coal in the furnace room and had her convinced she would never be anything more than a maid. I remember thinking as I looked at the pictures of Cinderella in my child’s storybook, ‘Doesn’t she know how beautiful she is? Can’t she see she is so different from her stepsisters both inside and out? Why doesn’t she just look in the mirror?’”

Similarly, we — all of us — have fallen victim to the “Cinderella Syndrome” and are completely unaware of the toll it has taken since we came into this world.

The Confusion of a Life Away from God

“You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing.”1

When it comes to the hereafter, most ordinarily responsible people inexplicably morph into hazy-eyed players in a high-stakes game of spiritual roulette that can only be explained as “the triumph of hope over experience.”

We plan, analyze and strive to secure our “futures,” all the way up to our last breath, and — without a thought to its blinding inconsistency — leave the rest to chance. And we do so in the face of the fragility and uncertainty of life all around us.

We seem to be afflicted with a form of spiritual schizophrenia, focusing our days upon comparatively trivial pursuits, while indefinitely deferring those looming thoughts about death, eternity, loss of existence and “meeting our maker.”

We agonize over a job loss or financial reversal, or spend weeks researching what kind of car to buy, while turning a blind eye to the inevitability that our lives will terminate one day — maybe soon — without notice.

Strangely, instead of honestly facing these “inconvenient truths,” we tend to retreat into creature comforts, an endless stream of entertainment or, for many, drugs and alcohol, which serve as temporary sedatives. But then the morning after announces, like a jarring gong, that reality has returned.

In their search for meaning, some thoughtful people adopt a secular humanistic world view, relying on science, culture and/or academia to explain it all, often discarding the notion of a higher creator-power in the process.

Others embrace one or another flavor of religion, seeking refuge among the rituals, supposed holy teachings, submission to leaders and their faith community.

Still others abandon the search for meaning and plant their feet firmly in thin air for the remainder of their lives.

In a 2011 Noozhawk column, Dr. John Luca wrote:

“We create ourselves by our choices, but our choices take place in a great mysterious world. Søren Kierkegaard said we are here on sealed orders. There is only so much we can know about who we are, why we are and where we are. To some degree, we make our choices in the dark. We are limited in what we can know and imagine. We are surrounded by things greater than we’ll ever be.”

The Bible depicts a multidimensional reality in which the visible spectrum is but a part of a much more pervasive spiritual realm inhabited by angels, demons, principalities and powers that dwarf in scale and number that which we can see with our eyes. It is in this invisible domain that cosmic battles between good and evil are continuously being played out, with the hearts and minds of human beings hanging in the balance.

And all the while, deep down inside, the heavenly hounds still bark, albeit off in the distance.

Pascal wisely observed, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator.”

D.C. Collier is a Bible teacher, discipleship mentor and writer focused on Christian apologetics. A mechanical engineer and Internet entrepreneur, he is the author of My Origin, My Destiny, a book focused on Christianity’s basic “value proposition.” Click here for more information. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

1. James 4:14–15 The Message (MSG)

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