Saturday, April 25, 2015

Why Should I Change?

According to

PERSONALITY [pursuh-nal-i-tee] n.
1. the visible aspect of one's character as it impresses others: He has a pleasing personality. 
2. a person as an embodiment of a collection of qualities: He is a curious personality.
3. Psychology. 

  • the sum total of the physical, mental, emotional, and social characteristics of an individual. 
  • the organized pattern of behavioral characteristics of the individual.
4. the quality of being a person; existence as a conscious human being; personal identity.
5. the essential character of a person.

CHARACTER [kar-ik-ter] n.
1. the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.
2. one such feature or trait; characteristic.
3. moral or ethical quality: a man of fine, honorable character.
4. qualities of honesty, courage, or the like; integrity: It takes character to face up to a bully.
5. reputation: a stain on one's character. 
6. good repute
7. an account of the qualities or peculiarities of a person or thing.

CONVICTION [ kuh n-vik-shuh n] n.
1. a fixed or firm belief: no clever argument, no persuasive fact or theory could make a dent in his conviction in the rightness of his position. 
2. the act of convicting someone, as in a court of law; a declaration that a person is guilty of an offense.
3. the state of being convicted.
4. the act of convincing a person by argument or evidence.
5. the state of being convinced.

Lately, there's been something pulling at me. And I think it's important, to us as people, to really give ourselves a good look in the mirror at times. After all, as it says in Philippians 1:27, "Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." And this verse, in light of Ecclesiastes 7:20, "Indeed, there is no one who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins," we ought to be self-reflective.

Actually, put those two verses next to one another, and our task as Christians seems nigh unto impossible - and most of the time, it is - at least, without Christ it is.

But that's not the entire focus of what's been on my mind lately.

We like to use the phrases, "you do you," and "don't try to change me," rather often. It's the idea that, "I am who I am and I shouldn't have to change for anybody."

But as Christians, I think we have to be careful how we approach this.

In Psalms 139:13-18, it says:

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand
    when I awake, I am still with you.

When we read this, often, we like to say, "God made me exactly who I am, the way I am." And I suppose so. But we're also broken, fallen and sometimes, I don't even like myself. To which most respond, "Then you have to learn to like yourself. Be who you are."

But I'd like to suggest a different approach.

I think who I am, is comprised of many parts, some of which are ME, and other parts that are growing and changing. And there's nothing wrong with change.

More often than not, I'm going to be really honest here, when we say, "don't try to change me," we really mean, "I don't want to grow up." And that - that right there is really selfish and won't win you any friends.

I'd like to think that my PERSONALITY - the fact that I'm an introvert, a deep thinker, creative, passionate, convicted and optimistic - that is who I am, who God designed me to be. Those are the traits I think he intends to use. And I wouldn't want to surrender my creativity to anyone. Why would I stop being creative? That seems silly.

On the other hand, I think that my CHARACTER, my integrity and maturity is always going to be growing and changing. Don't you remember when your parents used to say, "it builds character." Character isn't something we have right off the bat, we build it up as we add experience and life to our resumes. Character is grace, humility, generosity, love, work-ethic, honesty, kindness, etc. When I find myself being stubborn, lazy, unkind, self-centered, and unsympathetic - I see a character issue. Why on earth would I say, "Well, that's just the way I am," when I could be growing in kindness, sympathy, and love?

Now CONVICTIONS, I think that conviction is something God places on our hearts. They are things that matter to us, that we hold to the utmost import. And I do think that sometimes they shift. But not in a growth sort of way.

As a child, I valued fairness, the truth and justice more than anything else. I HATED it when I got in trouble for something that wasn't entirely my fault. Or when someone lied, or told a half truth. I wanted to be punished for what I deserved, not what I didn't. And I got very frustrated when others didn't get what they deserved, be it good or bad. And I really didn't like it when something was split unequally - like taking turns. Or when someone was selfish.

And I still think justice is important. There is this "peace" of sorts that I feel when people are treated with fairness.

But in my current stage of life, injustice and unfairness doesn't make me react the same way it used to. Instead, I'm in a place of sorts where sympathy and understanding have been VERY important to me.

When someone fails to see someone else's perspective and treat them with understanding, I find myself jumping in to play mediator. Not so as to compromise right versus wrong, but to facilitate flexibility - a different means to the same end that fits someone's situation.

Let me end by saying this:

God did create you to be beautiful and unique. No one else is quite like you with your unique set of interests and values. He made you that way so that he could USE YOU for his Kingdom. You were perfectly designed for a job only you can do. But in order to do that job, you have to be Christ's representative here on earth. His light out to be shining through you. But honestly, we make for pretty dirty lamps. And the dirt isn't cute.

Someday... you're going to be in a friendship or a relationship that that dirt is going to create some pretty nasty fights or tension because you just want to be you and not the best version of you. The people in our lives need to stop being stifled because they dared to call us out for poor behavior.

So don't be afraid to let someone polish you. To let GOD polish you.

Have you ever seen a victorian kerosene lamp?

I think they're some of the most beautiful household objects. Hand-painted glass illuminated by a flame. They're gorgeous.

Dear Christian!

You are a beautiful, ornate, hand-painted lamp. Perfectly constructed and filled with oil to burn.

But more often than not, lamps like this are stuck in the attic, coated in dust. If you lit one while it was dusty, it just wouldn't give off the same impression. It wouldn't have it's beauty shown off to it's potential.

It has to be cleaned and polished before this amazing lamp can really shine.

Wouldn't it be interesting if we stopped saying, "I'm perfect the way I am," and started saying, "I'm a work in progress, growing to be more Christlike as I let him have control."

Sorry if I just served up some humble pie. I have to eat it myself sometimes.

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