some stuff changes, some stuff stays the same

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So yesterday I came across this old post and smiled to myself because some of the things I mentioned there have in the meantime, to my humungous surprise, actually changed… I thank you, God, for loving me as I am … Continue reading

“I guess I shall never change”

was having a chat last night with a friend from the writing group who, it turns out, is like me in the tendency to flit from one thing to another and leave a lot of stuff unfinished. it all started from the jumper I’d found when sorting through stuff that had been lying in the cupboard under the stairs for years, a jumper I had actually got as far as very nearly finishing, I’d actually knitted the whole thing and started putting it together but I think this was when I was leaving the place where I’d been living and going elsewhere, and then a couple of months later I moved elsewhere again, and about a month later went back home to Israel, leaving a whole load of stuff in the loft of nice friends (including said unfinished jumper) and…

I digress. which kind of demonstrates this tendency, doesn’t it? :)

the thing is, the unfinished jumper got us talking about how we are neither of us likely to ever finish a novel because we just don’t have that single-mindedness, the perseverance, the ability to pick one project and focus on it for a length of time whilst forsaking all others. and caro ended up sighing and saying “I guess I shall never change” and I think we all do this, don’t we, this sighing over the way we are and wishing we were different, sometimes beating ourselves over the head about it, as though we had a choice.

of course we do have choices in many areas, but we don’t have a choice about what our personality is like, what our innate tendencies are, our strengths and weaknesses. I think the jury’s out on how much of it is stuff we’re born with and how much is to do with the way we were brought up (my instinct is very much in the “born with” direction) but whichever it is, it isn’t anything we had a choice about – it’s what we’ve been given, it’s how we are.

not that we’re necessarily static. some tendencies can go through subtle changes over time, and of course God can and does sometimes do stuff that we see as miraculous because it’s outside of the normal way things work (though when I think about some of the plain ordinary stuff that goes on in God’s creation, it seems pretty miraculous too, like when I watched a film of a baby being formed in the womb over time, or when I think about babies growing up and becoming grown people… but I’m digressing again)

so what was I trying to say? part of my journey over the past few years has been about learning to accept myself as I am. not to beat myself over the head, not to sigh about it too much. ok, so I don’t have that single-mindedness that some people do, and those are the people more likely to churn out novels, whereas I have got as far as writing 14,000 words of a novel and then found something else to play with. but what if everyone was single-minded? to be quite honest, I don’t think I’d find it all that nice to be married to someone like that – and I don’t think my husband would either, so it’s probably a blessing for our marriage that I’m not like that! there are pros and cons to all these things, and the world is so much richer for the variety of personality types that inhabit it.

the Bible talks in terms of different parts of one body: ‘the eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you”‘ – all different parts are necessary for the body to be whole and to function.

so if I’m a lower intestine there’s no point in me sighing and thinking I wish I was a nose. there already are people assigned to the role of nose. I’ve got to do the job of being a lower intestine. (or whatever it is that I happen to be)

this is not to say that there’s no room for change at all – of course there is, and part of my call as a Christian is to cooperate with God in his work of changing me more and more into the likeness of Jesus. (which, when looking at the starting point, is such a huge change that it seems unbelievable.) but I think the key is that it’s about cooperating with what God is doing, not about my own ideas of how I’d like to be, nor about the pressure from other people or from society in general as to how I should be.

people can come at you with all sorts of pressure, they might have all sorts of ideas like “it’s not good for you to spend too much time on your own” (which means they don’t understand introverts) or “it’s so much better to get up early in the morning” (which means they don’t accept night-owls) or “clutter is unhealthy” (which means they don’t understand my need, as a P, for things to not be too tidy), etc – so often people generalise from their own experience and assume that what works for them is going to work for everyone.

and we so easily internalise these messages, and accept that we should be different to how we are. but as long as God doesn’t say there’s something wrong with how I am, then all those people can go take a hike. and God doesn’t say there’s anything wrong with me being an INFP, or with someone else being an ESTJ, or whatever.

this reminds me of something I heard once, don’t remember where now, about a dictionary of Pidgin English that translated the term “justification” into something like: God say he okay.

basically, God says I’m ok. he loves me as I am. yes, he’s working on changing me into more like his son, more like how I was originally meant to be – human beings were originally made in God’s image, and through Jesus he is restoring that image. but it’s God who can see it all clearly and who knows exactly which bits need to be worked at, and he knows in what order things need to be done. and if anyone has the right to sigh over any aspect of my personality or behaviour, it’s him.

I’m reminded of something from decades ago, probably when I was about 16 or so, a few friends chatting together and someone saying something to my friend Andra about how chubby she was, but she remained unfazed. how come? she had a new boyfriend, and was full of confidence because, she said, he liked her as she was.

of course having a fellow human being who likes you as you are is great for your self-esteem, but knowing that God loves me and likes me as I am – well, that takes it to a whole different league!