by Pastor George Van Alstine
What am I doin’? What am I doin’?
Oh, yeah, that’s right, I’m doin’ me
I’m doin me
I’m livin’ life right now, man
And this what I’ma do ’til it’s over
‘Til it’s over
But it’s far from over…..
These are lyrics of a current song sung by the popular artist Drake. My attention was caught by the phrase “I’m doin’ me.” I’ve heard this twice this week in conversations with young adults who constantly listen to this type of music, which indicates that it’s probably become part of the language of the youth culture today (this week, but maybe not next week). I kind of like the idea. “Doin’ me” seems healthier than doing what everybody around you expects you to do. At its best, “doin’ me” can mean being the person you were created to be, fulfilling your personal destiny, expressing your most unique talents and gifts.
Of course, “doin’ me” can also mean being selfish, walking over other people, or being indulgent to your lower nature at the expense of fulfilling your responsibilities. In fact, the lyrics of the Drake song go on to talk about a great deal of confusion and self doubt, rejection by others and unclear goals in life. But the singer is determined to keep moving forward with the same commitment to “doin’ me” “until it’s over” (life, that is). Right now, “it’s far from over,” so I’ll keep on “doin’ me.” Which could mean making the same mistakes over and over again.
At the recent Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, Father Greg Boyle, the featured speaker, told stories about his work with gang members and other hard cases in the center of LA. It was inspiring to hear about the many young lives that have been saved and redirected through his simple ministry of presence, loving and affirming. He described what he does as “calling people to be who they are.” He’s not asking them to become something else, someone better. Their upbringing and environment of poverty, violence and hopelessness have caused them to live as someone they really aren’t. By believing in their potential, he is only helping them to see themselves as they are, and then gradually to blossom into that person. I like Father Boyle’s version of “doin’ me.”
In his letters, the Apostle Paul tells us quite a bit about his life before he became a believer in Jesus. He was busy “doin’ me” with great energy — at least what he thought was “me.” He was very zealous in defending his faith, his people, and their traditions against the new religion of Christianity. He did this by “violently persecuting the church of God and trying to destroy it” (Galatians 1:13-14). For this behavior he later came to see himself as the “chief of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). But when God miraculously intervened in his life, he realized that he had all along been meant for a very different destiny: “God set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace . . . to proclaim him among the Gentiles” (Galatians 1:15-16). At just the right moment, God called Paul to be himself. Previously, while he thought he was “doin’ me,” he was really “doin’ “ some sort of a caricature person that others wanted him to be.
Are you all about “doin’ me”? That could be good and it could be bad. It all depends on whom you trust to make the critical choice of who the true “me” is. Are you letting others make the choice, allowing yourself to be defined by their expectations, by traditions, by your family’s image of you, by your peer group’s nickname for you? Or are you fumbling around trying to make the choice for yourself, one day moving ahead toward a positive goal, the next day, maybe, wallowing in a cesspool of “doin’ me” self-indulgence? Isn’t it about time to let God, who “set you apart before you were born,” “call you through his grace” to blossom into the true you?