Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Day 5: What's Your Story?

My sister and I tag-teamed bedtime with my 5 year old niece last night, each of us imagining a chunk of a story, round-robin style. My sister and I are pretty creative, but my niece ran circles around us, creating a walrus named Alberforth who ate only salad. I won't bog you down with the full story of Alberforth's sad tale, except to say he exploded somewhere over South Dakota. (Neither Meg nor I saw that coming...)

This got me thinking about the stories we tell when we're older than five, when we reach that age where we're aware of our self image and start taking steps to mold it. Suddenly, every day is fraught with decisions: how much to reveal about ourselves, what light to shine on where we've been, how to "spin" where we're going (or our lack of progress in any discernible direction). For me, this sort of story telling has always led to bad things, my facade blowing up in my face like Alberforth. And yet even though I know this, it's hard not to repeat.

Before we started the 40 Days, I asked the Ryanhood guys for some "behind the music" information about their songs. One of the ones that seems really honest and brave to me is MATURE, which starts out, "Sometimes mature just means over my head and I don't really know what I'm saying..." Ryan emailed that this came to him one night as he was listing to some music, thinking about life on tour:

"Pretty soon I had a song about my desperate need to impress people," he said, "and how over time, especially on long tours, this desperation starts to change Cameron and me. We place our "worth" in the number of people who clap, and the number of CDs we sell at the end of the show. We begin to morph our personalities on stage into whatever gets the biggest reaction. "Sometimes I lie a consecutive time while I stare in the eyes of a stranger". We lose ourselves. And the problem is, at the end of show, while people may seem to really like us, it might not really be 'us' they were watching."

I've done that. I do that. It's so hard, when you think people expect something of you, to resist the urge to figure out what that is and try to become it. We all have this desperate need to impress people, and an equally desperate conviction that who we are isn't enough to get the job done. It's sad, and astonishing, and right at the heart of what Jesus can help us change.

In Luke 5, we see Him do this for a bunch of different people: a leper, a paralytic...people with legitimate public image challenges. And then Jesus comes along and changes everything. Imagine what He can do for the rest of us? Imagine what He can do for you? What would it look like for us to be ourselves--only "Jesus enhanced" (as my husband calls it)--instead of the version of "us" we cook up trying to impress everyone?


kim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kim said...

Oh my gosh Trish, in prayer this morning this was my exact conversation with Jesus (love when this happens). And I repented for all the ways I look to others instead of turning to him.. Thanks for your transparency.

Myowne said...

I have been wrestling with this reality for a while now because I have for so long been somebody other than me - not so much to impress anyone, but to fulfill the needs those people need. And sometimes being all things to all people can change who you genuinely are. So, I am seeking God to show me the real me - not the one that has been chiseled into existence by other people's needs and demands placed on my life. I want God to change teh story about me that I have allowed other people to write.

LarramieG said...

While the goal in life is to be the best that you can be, don't concern yourself with what others "see"...everyone has their own perspective.

Abby Green said...

I can relate with this struggle. And the funny thing is, when I am ME--the real true ME--life is just so much more freeing...I don't have to live up to anyone's expectations, etc...yet, I seem to forget this over and over again.

Stella said...

Authenticity ... don't we start to loose ourselves once we discover as children that our parents have expectations of and for us?

There are so many layers to wade through I'm not sure I would even recognize myself once I got "there". Or, maybe I am "there" and I don't like everything that I see. Or, maybe I'm expecting perfection in an imperfect, fallen world.

Is it even possible to be 100% ourselves (even Jesus-enhanced) all the time? I give in just because it requires the least amount of energy (?) to get in there, give 'em what they want, and move on. Isn't there a certain amount of "pleasing" we have to do every day? ... Like showing up for work, putting forth your best effort, meeting family obligations, holding your temper, pretending to be interested, etc. ... maybe all on a day I'd rather not.

I know I need ALOT of help in the area of authenticity ... it would be so awesome to see what Jesus sees.


heiress said...

Trish, I love the statements "Imagine what He can do for the rest of us? Imagine what He can do for you?"

Today, I am going to try especially hard to do just that. I needed to hear that because as I type this statement the devil tries to creep into my head to point out how long I've waited and how I have yet to receive my desires.

Suzanne said...

I love that expression- 'to be ourselves only Jesus enhanced'. That's something to strive for.

Sarakastic said...

The only thing I've ever read in any self help book that got through to me was along these lines and something I've been thinking about a lot "It's like we are diamonds but as we go along we get crap on us. Embarrassed by the crap we spend all of our time putting nail polish on it to cover it up instead of cleaning it off and being a diamond"

Stella said...

Hey Sarakastic ... interesting analogy and thought provoking.

AND, since I'm procrastinating (any way I can!) the yardwork I'm SUPPOSED to be doing today, might I offer my interpretation (meant to be humorous) of the DIAMOND cleanup process? ;-) ...

Step 1: Admit to having lived like a piece of PUMICE instead of a diamond. Rebuke false pumice-ness. Declare you're a DIAMOND(!) and repeat to self as necessary.

Step 2: Now that you're believing you're a diamond, it's time to remove the garrish polish 'cause a diamond should shine on its own!

Hmmmm, how best to do that? What formula remover to use? ... Would that be oily, non-oily, acetone base, non-acetone? OK, the polish is on REALLY thick and its been there a LONG time ... better use straight acetone. UBER effective but sloppy, messy, goes everywhere, stings a bit, and gets on everything ... but that's the embarassing price you pay.

Step 3: Polish is gone! But OOPS! Don't start celebrating too soon ... there's that nasty crap ... and its been there even longer than the polish and its dried and REALLY caked on. Well, gotta do WHATEVER it takes to remove it 'cause ... I'm a diamond ... I'm a diamond (repeat as necassary).

Step 4. Gunky crap fading away ... starting to feel like a shiny, sparkly, princess cut (my FAV) diamond ... YAY!

THEN, a 6-carat brilliant cut whopper sits down next to you and looks you over ... head to toe, toe to head and declares: "Uh-huh, just what I thought ... PUMICE!"


Back to Step 1 ... Repeat as necessary.

With a Wink and a Grin,