Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Yes, Be Yourself. BUT...

Earlier this week I was talking to someone whose church is having trouble getting people to sign up for a mission trip because they don’t want to be around a particular woman that’s going. She was described as one of God’s most annoying creations – a complainer who needs constant attention and thinks everything should revolve around her. I definitely know the type.

Hearing this story got me thinking about my last post where I encouraged people to be themselves. But then I thought, “What if yourself sucks?”

At age 16 when I first became a Christian, (on a mission trip I might add,) I sat down and made a list of all the things I didn’t like about myself that I didn’t think God liked either. I don’t have the original, but I’ll hit the highlights.

First off, I decided I didn’t want to worry about things all the time and that I wanted to give up my need for absolute control. A task like packing for a trip could send me into a panic because I was so scared that I wouldn’t be prepared for every situation that might arise. And I remember one particular incident in middle school where I went nuts on my friend because she dropped a raisin in my tea. I’m not kidding – something so stupid made me completely lose it. I decided I’d like myself a lot better if I figured out how to relax.

Secondly, I wanted to stop being an exaggerator. You have probably met someone who does this - for example, if I got something on sale for 20% off it would turn into 30% when I told someone about it. Though I wasn’t really hurting anyone, it was technically a form of lying. I wanted to be a more credible person.

Finally, I decided I wanted to be a better listener. I knew I cared deeply about my friends and family, but I realized I didn’t show it very well. When someone was sharing with me, I was too quick to relate what he/she was saying to myself and turn the conversation back to me. I wanted to be more externally focused.

I became very conscious of those behaviors and prayed constantly that God would help me change them. And one day, I looked back and realized He had. Not that I don’t revert back to old ways every now and then, but I’d be willing to bet that some of you who know me now would never have guessed that I used to be a self-absorbed, anal-retentive control freak. (And if you could have guessed it, please let me know so I can get back to work on it.)

Anyway, when I really thought about my own personal experience, I realized that long before I ever had the confidence to be myself, I had to sit down and decide who I really wanted to be. I believe there are certain core tenants of your personality you can’t change, but I KNOW that through Christ you can control how those tendencies are displayed in your life.

So, if you have a sneaking suspicion that you’re not exactly the best you can be, (like if you show up for the Mission Trip and you’re the only one on the bus,) maybe some tweaking is in order before you go out unabashedly being yourself. But don’t worry – “…I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Phi 1:6)

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