You’ve heard it a million times – whether you’re getting ready for a first date, preparing for a job interview, or meeting the future in-laws, someone always offers the sage advice to “just be yourself.”
This is probably the world’s most widely used adage, and it sounds so simple on the surface. But when people give this advice, do they really understand what they’re saying?
Because if you’re really being yourself, you are guaranteed to irritate, offend, or otherwise alienate someone along the way. What is pleasing to one person will grate on the next person’s nerves. Everyone will not always agree with you. And worst of all, you will eventually commit the cardinal sin of going AGAINST the flow.
Take traditional church folk for example. They want you to be yourself…“unless.” For example, “Be yourself, unless you don’t like the way we’ve always done things.” If you’d prefer an activity other than a potluck supper, if the sound of an electric organ hurts your ears, or if you are (gasp!) a Democrat, you’d best keep quiet about it. And there’s also, “Be yourself, unless you’re life’s not perfect.” If you’re fighting temptation, if you have doubts about your Faith, or if there’s anything unsavory in your past, don’t burden us with it. And for heaven’s sake, if your marriage is anything less than idyllic, keep it to yourself and act like nothing’s wrong.
When it comes right down to it, what people REALLY want is for you to be like them. Because if you are finding fulfillment by doing things differently, that just might mean that THEY are the ones who could have made better choices. And where Christians are concerned, I think sometimes instead of deepening our relationship with God to find confidence that we have chosen the right path, we instead find that comfort in the fact that everyone else is doing the same thing.
Romans 14:22 says, “Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don't impose it on others. You're fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you're not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—then you know that you're out of line. If the way you live isn't consistent with what you believe, then it's wrong.”
So fortify yourself in the Spirit, and embrace the real you. Then go ahead – dare to be yourself.