Do you sometimes feel like two totally different, contradictory people? Compassionate at times, inconsiderate at others. Generous and stingy. Spiritual and sinful. And do you wonder which is the real you? Or are both? I share that dilemma.
Some anonymous friend
knowing my soul
gave me a sub to a men’s adventure magazine
no racy pics
just kayaking killer rapids
climbing mountains that kiss the stratosphere
the latest and best gear
to go anywhere
to do anything
money no object
Perhaps the pics would have been more safe
For memories of youthful adventures flooded back
solo cross country motorcycle trips
no destination but the ever-expanding horizon
rappelling down a 190 foot bridge tower
on a 110 foot rope
with no rope at all
ready to go
of too many years
with too few adventures
facing only hostile church boards
partners in ministry
on the salary of a small church pastor
to the adventure
that feeds my soul
True? Yes. And no. Just incomplete. A love for adventure fills, and feeds, my soul. And for the first decade of my adult life, I pursued it. Then came ministry and marriage and more responsibilities. These also fill, and feed, my soul. And I also pursue them. So, who am I? An adventurer or minister? Independent or husband? Yes.
I suspect we all share contradictory aspects. Different, but part of us. I also suspect sanity grows as we understand we each have complex and contradictory dimensions. But how do we reconcile them as followers or seekers of Jesus? A few suggestions.
1. Know yourself. Get to know those dimensions, what feeds your soul, what expresses your values, what flows from God and how he created you. Your abilities and experiences.
2. Evaluate them. This becomes tricky, but allows us to reconcile our contradictory features. Are they core or peripheral parts of our personalities and lives? Do they match our deepest values? Do they aid or diminish a godly life?
3. Wisely incorporate them all. But, prioritize them, and focus on what most honors God, what most accurately recognizes who we are, what best benefits others.
Emerson proclaimed that “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds,” and without intentionally prioritizing these aspects, we reap a foolish inconsistency. Although I still take cross country bike rides, and fish solo on backcountry Sierra streams, I most want to serve my God and my wife. The rest, still part of me, come after those two.
Kick Starting the Application
Have you seen contradictory parts of your life? Have you been able to reconcile them? Did you have to ignore or deny some key aspects to do that? What role does being the best person God created you to be play in your deliberations? What changes do you need to incorporate in your life?