Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I Am Who I Am

As a Christian, it is difficult to read Psalm 139 and not come away knowing that God made us who we are. He knew us before we were formed. All of the quirks and the annoyances of our being as well as the wonderful qualities we possess, can be placed firmly at the feet of God himself. It is all His fault. It is all credited to Him. So why do we, so often, try to mold ourselves into something that we're not in order to blend in with everyone else?

Maybe it is just me, but I blended in for far too long - trying to squelch my real personality, so that I would be more palatable for others to be around. In the past several years, (maybe hitting 40 did it) I have been less willing to go along to get along in the world. I started studying the scripture more, and I came to realize that it's actually a sin to put myself into a socially presentable box like that, because it is, in essence, a lie. Not only is it a lie, but it's a slap in the face of God. It's essentially telling God that he had messed up when he made me, because I needed to be 'this other way' on account of expectations from others. If playing God in that manner is not a sin, then I don't know what is.

When I read Psalm 139, the words written there struck me as so profound, that I could no longer deny my authentic self. I began to examine all sorts of things about my personality, and the way that I interacted with those around me.  I soon came to understand that some changes would have to be made. Some changes would be painful for those who had to live (or be close) with me. I didn't want it to seem like I was pulling a bait and switch routine. After all, I had been living a certain way for a long time, it was hardly fair to spring the real me on them. However, in order to live my life in alignment with God's purpose, I had to be who I was intended to be - who He intended me to be.

I slowly (and sometimes not so slowly) began to make some shifts in the way I was with others. I opened myself up to the parts of my temperament that I had been tamping down. I found it quite liberating on the one hand, but also painful on the other, as I watch people around me try to puzzle out what was going on with me. I just kept plugging along, building on my fundamental make-up, as I examined and sometimes discarded things that I had been doing for years and years. I no longer felt confined by the expectations of others, but let God guide me.

Living an authentic life is still a struggle, at times, I will not lie. My need to please people is strong. I cannot help but think that the need to please is somehow another God-given inborn trait with me. So, finding out how that fits within the framework of not living my life to just suit the needs of others has been my greatest challenge. I really want people to like me; to accept me; to want to spend time with me. I'm not sure if this desire is an actual character flaw that I need to work on amending, or if I should simply embrace it.

I think it boils down to this-- if I have to be a fake version of me in order to have people to like me, then it is not worth it. People are controlling me if I present myself falsely, and if people are controlling me, then God is not in control of me, and if God is not controlling me, then I am living in sin, because I have pledged my obedience to Him. Makes perfect sense, right?

Having a few extra friends is not worth living a lie. In the long run I am much better off staying the course that God has laid out for me. The rewards and blessings are bound to be much more bountiful than any fake friendships could ever be.