Please Be Yourself

One of the thoughts consuming a lot of space in the three-ring circus of my brain lately is what it means to fully be ourselves.  In Christ, what it means for me to be myself and you to be yourself, ALL THE TIME.

I’ve been thinking about this for quite a while.  We are all created unique.  There are no two people exactly alike.  Even identical twins aren’t identical in EVERY respect, and they come from exactly the same sperm and the same egg.  There is something unique and different about every single human being.

According to WorldOMeters, Real Time World Statistics, there are now over 7 billion people currently living on the earth.  According to the same website, it is estimated that 106 billion people total have lived on the earth in all of history.  While 106 billion is not 100% accurate, let’s just say that anything over 7 billion is a really big number.

What I find fascinating is that over 7 billion times the Creator of the Universe, our Heavenly Father, the Infinite God, Love Himself, our Daddy, did not repeat a single human design.  We are all unique.  Why?

One of the infinite ways we are all unique is in our personalities.  Last week a friend of mine posted an interesting twist on the Myers Briggs Personality Type Chart to my Facebook page.  It’s based on the characters from The Lord of the Rings.  For the record The Lord of the Rings is right up there with Steel Magnolias on my list of all-time favorite movies – all three of them.  And the book itself is on my all-time top 10 reading list.  Thank you J. R. R. Tolkein!

Just to cut to the chase, when I took the assessment I was an INTJ (Introvert, I(N)tuitive, Thinking, Judging) or you can just call me Elrond.  What I realized though is that for many, many years I didn’t realize I was an introvert and tried to live as an extrovert.  In fact, in many ways I viewed being an introvert as less important than being an extrovert.  I mean aren’t extroverts the leaders?  Aren’t they the ones who are constantly out there getting things done?  In the context of Christianity, aren’t they the ones on the front lines serving God?  Aren’t they moving and shaking the Kingdom?  Don’t I want to be like one of them?

By living as a closet introvert (and a fraudulent extrovert, I might add), I robbed myself and others of the unique expression of Christ in me to the world.  I was not fully living as myself.  I was holding back something of myself that God intended to give to the world when He created me.   In the unique ways I am created by God, and in the unique ways you are created by God, we bring things to the world that absolutely no one else can.

The world needs us to be who God created us to be; to live from our union with Christ and allow Love to express Himself to the world in a way that absolutely no one else who has ever lived, or will live, can.  To bring it down to a more personal level, I need all those people the Father brings into my life to be fully themselves and to be unique image bearers of Love to me.  I need the Gandalf’s, the Aragorn’s, the Frodo’s and the other Elrond’s in my life to be themselves.

Our brief journey on this earth is too hard to walk alone.  J. R. R. Tolkien had C. S. Lewis to encourage him in the monumental effort to write The Lord of the Rings.  He almost gave up many times, but Lewis wouldn’t let him.  (It took over twelve years to write.  Portions of it were written during WWII – one of the darkest periods of modern history.)

Tolkien's Cover Designs for the First Edition ...

And Lewis was led to Christ by Tolkien.  Can you imagine a world without either of these men living in the fullness of who they were?  The echoes of their lives reverberate throughout eternity, but they didn’t do it alone.

And neither can we.  Please, be yourself.  Don’t conform to the expectations of others.  Give up your own expectations of what life should be like.  I need you, we need you, the world needs you, exactly how God created you, right where you are in your journey.  You are no accident and your circumstances are not coincidence.  As an image bearer of God, you have something of Him, of great value and worth, to express to the world that no one else can.

Matthew 5: 14-16 (NASB) “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

Cure for a Writing Party Hangover

In case it isn’t obvious, this is only my second post in the month of November.  So what in the world is going on?  Well, I’ve been asking myself that for several days.  At first I felt like the internet needed me to be quiet for a few days so that there might be enough white space for people to process things other than 31 Days of Advent in October.

When it came time to put thoughts into words, sentences, paragraphs and posts again, and I struggled to do it, it dawned on me I am experiencing what I have decided to call a Writing Party Hangover.  Another blogger, Emily Freeman, recently posted that every year in October she writes for 31 days straight and then finds that she has nothing to say in November.  Well, I am experiencing something completely different.  I have so many thoughts swirling around in my head, it’s like a three-ring circus in here…in fact, it’s like a three-ring circus plus clowns and jugglers circling the perimeter, plus little kids on a sugar high squealing with delight and I think I heard a train whistle.  And they are all vying for my attention.

Elephant Trail

Sometimes writing, for me, is like giving those thoughts a safe place to land.  With the Writing Party Hangover it’s been really hard to just pick one thought, help it land onto the virtual page and then let it become a more fully developed idea.  But in some sense I don’t think this space is necessarily for completely developed ideas, more like ideas in process.

So, this morning I decided to break up my routine to help me look at things differently and hopefully get some of this circus of thoughts out of my head (now there’s a title for a post – Circus of Thoughts or Head Circus or How to Get the Circus Out of Your Head).   See what I mean?  It’s just a big mess in here.  God bless everyone who has actually tried to have a face-to-face conversation with me lately.

Hopefully unplugging from technology, being quiet, and working in a different room will shake some things loose for me and something coherent may come together.  Or not.  They say identifying the problem is the first step towards solving it.

Amen.

Looking Back on 31 Days (or Clueless and Loving It!)

Last week as the 31 Days of Advent in October series was coming to an end I realized I was so engrossed in writing it that I hadn’t had a chance to discuss it.  You may be thinking, “Wow, what an odd thing to say Kim.  In writing it weren’t you discussing it?”  Well, the writing of it is one thing, but the experience of the process is something completely different.  And it turns out I think I have a lot to say about the experience.

Just in case you have no idea what I am talking about you can check it out here and here.  But I just completed a 31 Day writing challenge over at The Nester’s online home.  For the past several years she has invited bloggers to write for 31 days straight about the same topic in the month of October as a way of building an online community, encouraging others in their blogging journey, and to help bloggers remember why it is they signed up for this writing life.

Last October, for the second year in a row, I read The Nester’s 31 Day invitation and subsequent series and really longed to join in what looked like a Big Fun Writing Party.  But alas, I had no blog and therefore, no way to join the party.  Until of course it finally occurred to me that all I needed was a name for my blog, $10 (or whatever it was) to register the domain name, and an afternoon to set everything up through WordPress.  And just like that, on a cold afternoon in January, on my big red couch in my living room, Gracefullyunraveled – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly was born.

So the couple of months leading up to October 2013 the question loomed in the back of my mind, are you going to do it?  Are you going to join the writing party?  The truth is I waffled back and forth for several weeks because I had a couple of big commitments (at least big for me) already lined up and I was feeling a little overwhelmed by the idea of writing about the same topic EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR 31 STRAIGHT DAYS.  I wasn’t sure if I could do it.

Apparently it all worked out because here I am writing this post on October 31st (even though it will publish in a week), my last post in the series went live this morning at 6:00 a.m. and here are some of my initial reflections on this journey:

1)     I loved this experience from beginning to end!  I was concerned that if I made the “commitment” to participate that at some point it might become drudgery, but it never did.  Some of the posts were a little more difficult to develop, but it was never drudgery.  Sitting down to write each post was such a joy because I didn’t have to struggle to make anything fit.  As I read each advent selections I could see lots of different strands that I could pull and follow and respond to.  Ann’s book, The Greatest Gift, is so rich that I could probably go through this exercise multiple times and write completely different responses each time. (Please, please, GET THIS BOOK before December 1st…it was life changing for me and every bit as important as One Thousand Gifts, also by Ann Voskamp.)

2)     Even if no one else ever read any of my posts except me it was worth every second of it.  The process of writing each post ministered to me in a deep way.  When I say the process I mean reading each day’s selection, internalizing it, and then articulating a response.  I wept through almost all of them as God convinced me personally of His coming just for my heart.  And that He’s been coming for me since before the beginning.  I am tearing up now thinking about it.  The only struggle was that sometimes there just didn’t seem to be words adequate to articulate the work going on in my heart.

3)      As I thought about this post I considered including a link to my favorite ones in the series.  The problem is I LOVED EVERY SINGLE POST.  Of course they weren’t perfect and given more time I could have done a much better job editing and polishing them, but each one of them had a unique and necessary thing to speak to the series as a whole and I couldn’t choose any of them over the others.

4)      This experience confirmed to me that art inspires art.  My posts came directly from my personal conversations with the Lord about another artist’s work.  My responses were different than Ann Voskamp’s, but they were certainly inspired by hers.  And they were also inspired by MANY other things I’ve read and experienced over the last few years – One Thousand Gifts, Grace for the Good Girl, several books of the Bible, my Advanced Discipleship Training (ADT) class, all of my classmates in ADT.  I am still thinking about this and I actually believe it’s a very important point.  I think it speaks to our need for community on many levels.  I have heard other writers say that when they experience a “dry season” they realize it is because they are not reading and/or engaging in their life enough.  I am sure all of them will be glad to know that now I also agree. 🙂

5)      The end product, meaning each post, was less important to me than the process of creating it.  That actually surprised me.  I came to this conclusion when I realized that every time someone said they liked my post or gave me encouragement (which I really needed and was very grateful for because this was a huge endeavor for me), I said “Thank you”, but I found myself wanting to talk about how that particular post had developed.  I just couldn’t figure out a way to say that to anyone without sounding like I wanted to talk about myself.  🙂 (I tend to overuse emoticons when I feel awkward about something I’ve just written, but I think I am the only one who didn’t know that about myself.)

6)      One of the best things about this journey was dialoguing with the Lord about each of the posts and allowing the post to be an expression of my union with Him.  I know that sounds sort of mystical and I don’t mean for it to, but I am not sure how else to say it.  I was openly using a jumping off point from Ann Voskamp’s, The Greatest Gift, but chewing on each writing selection,  internalizing the message and then spinning it back out into each post for others to consume, enjoy (or even reject) was a very personal expression of something the Lord and I were doing together.

7)      This point is going to sound crazy, but in the interest of full disclosure, I feel that to exclude this one would be dishonest.  I loved the 31 Days journey so much that I am a bit concerned/afraid/worried/scared to death that the next blog writing project (which I have in mind, but will talk about later) won’t be as good or amazing in terms of process or end product.  😦 I know this is completely irrational…and will probably sound even more crazy when I share the idea for the next topic here in this space.  (I have said it before, but it bears repeating, I often think my role in life is to provide the comic relief for the rest of you.)

I may have more to share but these are my initial thoughts.  I am a firm believer in the idea that as we move through the events of our lives we have absolutely no clue as to their significance until some time has passed and we gain more context and perspective.  So here’s to being clueless and loving it!