“What ought to be human and isn’t:” More thoughts


Brain things / Friday, October 19th, 2018

“But in general, take my advice, when you meet anything that is going to be Human and isn’t yet, or used to be Human once and isn’t now, or ought to be Human and isn’t, you keep your eyes on it and feel for your hatchet.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia

Memo to self: Do not share a happening post in the middle of a highly engrossing week. It is excruciating. Delightful, but excruciating.

Thank you for your excellent thoughts. I fielded them while making food, celebrating, meeting with professionals, taking my daughter to the dentist, running children to visits, and in general living full speed ahead as usual.

Some of you understood exactly what I was talking about. Thank you.

Some of you I confused. And I heard you asking great questions, like

                Why did you change your mind on singing the song?

                Shouldn’t we be Christian first?

                Can identities be separated? Is trying even helpful?

                Can’t being Christian and being human be part of the same package?

                Why don’t we just be like Jesus?

To them all, I would say Probably Yes.


The other day, I sat in a small white room, waiting. After a while, a nurse walked in. I knew she was a nurse because she was dressed like one, and because they had said she would come, and because she did nursey things. She took my blood and flushed my ears and chatted about life and office renovation and the weather. Then she left.

This woman is not solely a nurse. She may also be a grandmother, an avid reader, a fitness buff, a direct sales company employee in her spare time, and a song leader at her church on Sundays.

But if she had entered the room where I was waiting for a nurse, and presented herself as a grandmother (a gentle hug and a little tongue clucking about how much I’d grown – shudder) or as a saleslady for Pampered Chef or Norwex or whatever she’s into, I would have been highly offended.

On the other hand, if she became so attached to her identity as a nurse that she presently carried her stethoscope and thermometer to church, diagnosed miscellaneous illnesses in her direct sales customers, and in fact became uncomfortable with herself outside of scrubs, more people than Shari Zook would be upset.


In the comments yesterday, Maribeth Filbrun used the phrase “projected identities.” Yes, that is it exactly.

But not only.

Who we are eventually becomes what we project. And what we project eventually becomes who we are.


I am all of the things I mentioned yesterday: human, Christian, feminine, Mennonite. I could draw diagrams to try and capture their intersection – Interlocking circles? Nesting circles? Rays from a central point? But however I describe it, I am each of those things; deeply, centrally, inescapably. I am grateful to be them. I am blessed beyond deserving.

And I am more. I am a foster parent and a pastor’s wife, a sister and an aunt, a writer and a homemaker and a friend.

Who am I? Which identity do I show off most often? And which can I never lay down? Which do I bring repeatedly into conversation? Which would I not be caught dead out of?

(Yes, that was a joke. Being caught dead out of being human would not be good for anyone. (And HOW?))

I can do an unMennonite thing, an unfeminine thing, an unChristian thing, or an inhuman thing, and honestly, that’s my order of preference.


We are part body and part spirit. The body part is also being redeemed by God, and is his home. If the only image we can comfortably present the world is overtly spiritual, and near-flawless, we are living a lie.

That was my point.

But I may be wrong on these things. And I would rather make you think hard than be exactly right, any day of the week.

8 Replies to ““What ought to be human and isn’t:” More thoughts”

  1. Ah-ha. “If the only image we can comfortably present the world is overtly spiritual, and near-flawless, we are living a lie.” I thought that’s what you meant. Thanks for clarifying. I recognize with deep appreciation the time & effort (and the PR, lol) you put into writing here. May your weekend be more restful, less excruciating;and may your first face always be human:)

  2. Dear Shari-Pastor’s Wife-Mom-Foster Mom-Mennonite-Follower of Christ-Keeper of Your Home-Blogger I’ve Never Met But Would Love To Sometime… what beautiful posts these last few were! Always your posts are a delight to read, and often more than just a delight, because just like people, writings can be so much more than restricted to only one descriptive term. God bless your honesty, and always help you to be the best of whatever it is He’s calling you to be and do at that very moment!

  3. Love love love these last posts. Truly, think about why I do what I do. Would I do it if no one would see? Sometimes I’ve felt two-faced because I present a different person in some situations, but that is the me for that particular time and place… If we all could just accept ourselves like God made us and be the person He wants us to be. Oh dear. You say it so much better!

  4. It’s kind of genius that by unraveling and reversing the order of identity, your point is beautifully clarified. I thought I had it the first time around, but this! Bravo!😉

  5. Shari I love how your posts are really thought-provoking and gets us talking. I appreciate what Joyce said about accepting ourselves the way God made and be the person He wants us to be.
    That’s something I really need to work on.

  6. Shari, I “got you” the first time since we have apparently lived similar spiritual journeys. I too look back & regret my uptight spiritual ways when I seemed unaware that God uses our humanness as a tool in His hands. Today in my 30’s, I hope I’ve learned to relax, becoming more approachable & relatable to those outside my circles. I was so disappointed I did not get to see you at Rejuvenate.

  7. These two posts have been lifegivers to me. So much wisdom and thought in them. Just want to say I totally got what you were saying and thank you so much.

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