Thursday, February 15, 2007

Who ARE you?

I had a coupon for the magazine "Real Simple" and picked up a copy when I got groceries the other day. Sometimes I'm really bored by this magazine because their whole goal seems to be to create an imaginary world where people avoid inconveniences. Because I believe God uses inconveniences to make us better people, I can't really buy the concept, but sometimes it helps me get motivated to organize something, so I did buy the magazine.

During a first reading, I skipped an article by a life coach. Life coaches rank pretty high on my list of superfluous jobs. I have this bias that the Holy Spirit is pretty much the only life-coach people really need, aided occasionally by their pastor....but I know I'm biased. While making a second perusal through the magazine, this time contemplating listing it on ebay (that's right, you can sell your old magazines...but I digress), I started to skim the life coach lady's article. I ended up reading the whole thing (Dare to Be Different by Gail Blanke).

Here's the teaser:
Somebody doesn't like you? Good. No one ever made an impact on the world without standing out from the crowd. So embrace your unique qualities, says Real Simple's life coach, Gail Blanke. They're what makes you unforgettable.

Hmm. I was reminded of a conversation Robb and I had about church. We were cresting the little hill on the road to the mall (or as we like to call it, Church), both trying to anticipate who would be there for the first message of his series on sex. There have been some criticisms of this whole thing, and one of them was a 70 year old lady who called the radio station Robb was on in Detroit. She said that she thought it was totatally inappropriate and asked, "What good does this series do me? I want to hear about the Bible." Robb said,

"I understand her point. It's true that 70 somethings probably don't want to talk about sex at church. But what about all the 20 and 30 somethings who DO and who really need to?"

I thought about it for a minute, mentally picturing this series being preached at our old church in Michigan. Awkward. And then I had a realization.

Most people think that the church they attend is the way church should be.

Well, "duh" you say.

What I mean is that they think all the other churches should be that way too. A bunch of cookie cutter churches all doing the same thing. Think about that for a minute. For many people, there is no room for variation...not in churches and not in individual Christians.

Back to Life-coach lady. She has this exercise where you do four steps:
1. Make a list of the qualities you like best about yourself, the things that make you unique.
2. Ask people who love you what they like best about you and what makes you one of a kind.
3. Make a list of talents or qualities you'd like to be known for.
4. Catch yourself when you start thinking that "everybody should be like me." Review your
list of unique traits everyday.

I was suddenly reminded of the passage in scripture (the Message) that says,

A body isn't just a single part blown up into something huge. It's all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, "I'm not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don't belong to this body," would that make it so? If Ear said, "I'm not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don't deserve a place on the head," would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.

But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn't be a body, but a monster.

I recall one of the things I found fascinating about the U2 biography was the part in their lives when they were going to give up the band so that they could be "more involved in their church." They were being pressured by other Christians do to this. What a monstrous idea.

We have some really interesting people at Vintage....they are SO different from me. Some are more conservative and some are well...not conservative. I love them. I love how different they are from me. I have to work hard at not staring sometimes because they are so strikingly different from me. And I wonder sometimes if I should organic, shave my head, read better books, practice the guitar, spend more time on My Space, dress more funky, drink green tea, vote for Hillary....

Some of that would be fun, but it's not really me. It seems to me that the best way to glorify God with my life is to be me...I don't mean to sound like Oprah or Joel Ostein. I just have to figure that God really wants us to be individuals and that's why he went to the trouble of making us all so different.

Some of the things that make us unique are positive and some are negatives. Maybe you are or have been...
motivated by money
environmentally sensitive
socially awkward

Either way, God takes those things and makes good with them. That's the miracle of his grace.

You know I spent a long time thinking about Dr. Carter recently. I really contemplated this great life he unique and forceful. For all his stunning qualities, though, a lot of people didn't like him. It led me to think about many other great people I have known and who are part of my life now...and a lot of them are not liked by everyone.

I remember reading a novel once and the heroine was described as being either very liked or very disliked, but nobody was indifferent to her. I liked that then and I still like it.

So I'm thirty@!@$$ now and I'm just figuring out who I am. I'm letting go of the guilt and envy of not being somebody more godly, and just being me. I'm a creative, introverted, chronically late, well-intentioned person who had a happy childhood. I love my family by working hard. I am trying to live in relationship with a God who is sometimes invisible and silent, but I still really like Him. I'd give anything to do something important for the Kingdom....and for right now, that important work is selling doo dabs on ebay, which I really enjoy. I'm open to change but I'm not trying to catch God's attention with my good effort anymore.

I find it deeply satisfying that nobody is going to express their faith and beliefs exactly like I do. If we all just be ourselves, it's likely that we'll be a better Body.

So who are you?


courtney said...

well, first of all, I just learned that I'm a 29 yr old white female with a BMI of 22.3. I'm alittle confused by the mixed messages of why I need to loose weight to fit into my old navy jeans without the extra flap hanging out over the top but msn says I'm "normal"
Anyways, I really appreciated this whole post and I also want you to know that I'm so very proud of you for it. This isn't the person you were, even five years ago. It goes beyond feeling that you and I can finally relate as sisters; I think you can really relate to other people in general now in ways that you couldn't's very vxadipsq, I think.

klasieprof said...

MY Best Job Ever..would be as a LIFE COACH!!

I'll write more later after I think about it..But I'm NOT kidding...I think I would be a great life coach for people.


klasieprof said...

please keep in mind that "JOB" means as in: GETTING PAID FOR....I do it enough for free, I'd just like to have it be


courtney said...

I'm with D on this one...not that I've got nearly as much life experience as Donna does, but I think it'd be great to get paid for that kind of job....esp. since I just spent all morning looking through the want ads this morning looking for a new job.

Heidi said...

This parallels a study I've been doing on "growth". I studied that passage and it took on a whole new meaning. I've been super busy this week so haven't been able to put all my thoughts together to blog. Hopefully next week...

Heidi said...

maybe parallels isn't the right word... overlaps would be better.

ness said...

Only my best friend would totally challenge me on the life coach's okay. I acknowlege publicly that that paragraph was preachy and superior of me and I repent. If you could get a gig as a life coach and get paid for it, I would think you had pulled off quite a coup.

klasieprof said...


yeah....I like the sound of that!!

Yesterday: worked all day, taught Love and Logic all night
Today: go to "leadership" training all day, Teach Foster parents at Ithaca Baptist 5-10 (I didn't have a building so they are letting me use the church) Yahh
Sat: teach foster parents 8-5 , Go to :LOL night for couples at the COffee church in Mt. P.
Best friend..yah right.

sara said...

Well said...

akr said...

I really think hitting the thirties has really thrown me for a loop. I am no longer really youthful...I don't like some of the new styles. I'm not always sure how to dress to not be old maid or trying to immitate the teens. I have found however, a more secure me. One that knows who she is...her strengths and weaknesses and what she has overcome. The questions have moved more from who am I to what is my purpose.

Blogging tips