“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” ~Dr. Seuss
There it was again- the same jealousy, the same gossip, the same backstabbing, along with the same goal as always- posturing for privilege leading to power and ultimately – money. Only the circumstances change… and the players change. Everything else is to be expected.
There is indeed Nothing New Under The Sun.
What causes disharmony and divisions in groups of people? I’m talking about people who should be working together with the same goals. Or at least similar goals. Such as non-profit organizations for charitable causes. Or churches. Or worse yet, The Church with the capital “C”, meaning all Christian people put together.
Everyone knows we are all different- we need to be. We all have different gifts given to us by our Father God. If we, as Christ-followers, all claim to believe in what the Bible says and claim to be trying to live as if we do ~ why do we compete with each other and complain against each other and sometimes even try to destroy each other? Aren’t we supposed to be setting an example as representatives of God’s beauty and His compelling love for every human being? His inclusiveness for all of us as children made in His own image? Isn’t showing that unique and Holy Love to everyone the very task He has entrusted to His followers? So how do we even begin to accomplish this seemingly impossible task?
In the Bible ~ I Corinthians 12 ~ our Father God lovingly gives us an analogy for our finite minds. It’s a picture of the Church as a human body. This helps us to understand that we cannot function without each other. And we can’t afford to compete with each other.
We all possess different personalities and different gifts. Yet we are all parts of the same Body.
Think about it. How strange would it be if within one’s own body, one’s ear said to one’s eyes, “I am better and more important than you are. Therefore I have no need of you. So I should make more money than you do and get more respect then you do. Therefore, I think I’ll make sure I do by pounding a spike into both of you. Then everyone, including our boss, will see how worthless you are and how much better than you I am.”
How ludicrous is that? That would not only cause the entire body to become blind, it would cause everyone, including the spiteful, jealous ear, a heck of a lot of pain. But in many ways, it seems like we all do that very thing. And that very thing is what hinders us from doing what is right, what is necessary and what is beautiful.
Step into your own skin.
I think perhaps understanding yourself is a good place to begin to live in harmony with one another. I know I need to regonize my own strengths and weaknesses. And in order to do so, I need the help of people who know me well and love me enough to tell me the truth. Especially if I ask them. Am I symbolically a foot or a hand? And I must have the courage to listen and not decide to become offended. If more than one trusted person says the same things, or similar things to me, they are most likely right. And if I’m self aware enough, their answers to my questions will probably sound comfortable to me. Like slipping into my favorite jammies and relaxing in my favorite chair. Or looking at my already favorite color painted on the walls of my already favorite room.
By God’s infinite wisdom, no one is an entire body all by themselves. When we fully understand this, maybe we will realize just how much we all need each other. And just how much it will hurt everyone ~ including ourselves ~ to try to diminish the importance of another. And then perhaps, we will begin to truly recognize, honor and love each other. And it will just be natural.
Being self-absorbed is unhealthy. But understanding and being yourself is very important.
Ask yourself, your friends, and ask God, to tell you what part of His body you are. And then just be that part. It just might be a lot easier and more fun to simply be who you are instead of trying to be someone, or worse yet, everyone else. How exhausting is that?
Here’s an example of what I mean:
Because Steve and I married and became independent so early in our lives, it was necessary for me to work in many different jobs, in many differing fields, in order for us to eat food, pay rent and other essentials… Meanwhile Steve also worked in atrocious jobs, such as hot tar roofing, while going to college and finally earning his MBA degree.
But in my case, I really had no idea who I was. I literally spent years working in jobs I really hated. In some, I was bored out of my mind, such as the years I spent working in pancake houses. There were also times I was daily terrified because I was working in a bank and I am terrible with numbers and people with overdrawn checking accounts were screaming at me. At the supposed pinnacle of my “career”, I was an Account Executive at a large business forms firm. I wore suits, had an executive assistant and an expense account. And I hated my job. Business forms are not very creative. The whole place just made me feel mad!
Luckily, just before I had a total meltdown, we could finally afford for me to quit and go back to college ~ and I chose art college. As I look back on those years, I can see that I was a definite square peg trying to cram myself into a round hole. With the help of some friends and a therapist, I discovered I am a very creative person who loves to help people. Not a financial department person. Or a business forms sales executive. Or an IHop server (I still hate pancakes). Being myself was way easier. And more natural. And certainly way more fun.
I think sometimes young people struggle to see themselves and who they really are clearly as they grow into adolescence, because they are misunderstood and not allowed to be themselves. If you grew up with the misfortune of living in a family or having a parent or parents who seemed to be constantly telling you that you were “weird” or “too sensitive” or too anything, you most likely learned to believe it.
I do not believe there is any such thing as a “weird” person.
What does that even mean? And who is to determine if another person is “weird”? I believe children are born the way they are. They are not weird just because they may happen to be different from their siblings or parent(s). Of course they need to be taught right from wrong. Of course they need guidance. But they also need to be known and celebrated for their uniqueness. And encouraged to be that unique creation they already are. They are not little monkeys for an overbearing adult to try to cram into a mold made by human hands. Humiliation and attempts at control are recipes for disaster and rebellion. I know; I have seen it first hand.
And, unfortunately, it also happens in marriages. And in any other group of people.
If any part of this story sounds painfully familiar to you, one additional suggestion given to me was as simple as this:
Try doing some things you just like to do. Of course, things that help and don’t hurt you or other people. Try something you’ve always thought looked fun. Something that just feels natural to you and makes you feel happy. Perhaps the people God has put in your life ~ those who might actually know you better than you know yourself ~ might just start affirming you in what you are doing.
Then maybe you will stop feeling like you are swimming upstream all the time. Then maybe it will become obvious to you that you are being you. Then maybe you will find out whether you are an “eye” or an “ear”, or something else altogether. And you will probably start to see the God-given beauty of yourself… and of other people around you. Eyes, ears, mouths, hands, feet ~ we are all out there. We just need to hook up together. And start moving in the same direction.