Think Before “Being Yourself.”

Think Before “Being Yourself.”

 

The empowering cultural message of today is “Be Yourself.”

 

And to be honest, that’s a pretty positive idea. Don’t try to fit yourself into the mold that everyone else is already in; be authentic and not fake; be uniquely you, in only the way you can be.

 

And in a world of unrealistically photoshopped models on magazines, pressure to be at the top, and an obsession with all the glitz and glamour of fame and riches, there’s a stark comparison of ideas we’re hearing: “Be the best,” and “Be yourself.”

 

“Be yourself” is generally much healthier of a message.

 

But it’s not where we can stop.

 

See, there are two sides to this issue.

 

The first? Don’t let anyone tell you who to be, or put pressure on you to be a pseudo-version of yourself.

But the second is toxic – don’t change who you are because only you know who you want to be.

 

Perhaps the word “toxic” is too harsh, but the point remains. If we think we’re all set with no room for the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, we mislead ourselves.

 

I know this verse is somewhat out of the context of the passage, but the truth remains:

 

1 John 1:8

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

 

By nature, we’re flawed, sinful humans. By simply embracing our selfish selves, we let sinful thoughts and actions reign over our existence. I’m not saying that we’re not saved, we’re just not going to mature and become more Christlike.

 

If being yourself means being snarky and self-centered, rude and “liberated” (aka do-whatever-you-want-without-limits), then no, you shouldn’t be yourself.

 

By gratifying the natural desires of the flesh, we decide that we know better. We make the decision to reject the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives and instead, indulge in attitudes and engagements that will end up hurting us later.

 

So where does that leave us? Is it good, or is it bad to embrace who we are?

 

It’s both.

 

It’s great to be yourself. In fact, if doing so helps you to maximize your life to grow in your faith and serve God, then by all means, go for it. We all have different personalities, appearances, passions, and dreams for a reason.

 

But if being yourself gives you the excuse to express yourself in ways that stunt your growth, give power to sin, or disregard the leading of the Holy Spirit, then stop.

 

Think.

 

Before listening to the so-called “empowering” message of embracing ourselves as we are, let us look above the noise and onto truth.

 

Will our actions lead us to God, or away from Him?

 

Will we be using them to serve Him, or just ourselves?

 

Will the glory go to us after all, or to God?

 

Does this help us to become the person God has for us to be?

 

In the end, these questions can only be answered by you. What are your intentions in embracing your inner self?

 

We can either use our lives to serve God, or serve ourselves – to scream about freedom in Christ or freedom in worldly living – to listen to the Holy Spirit or to listen to the Devil.

 

What will you choose today?

 

Today, I choose to think before instinctively being “myself.”

 

*aj

I’m A Christian, And Also An Introvert

Woman, Mountain

As you all probably know…I’m an introvert.

INFJ, to be exact, which just so happens to be the rarest personality type in the world.

As an introvert, I enjoy solitude, find my best friendships one-on-one (as opposed to in a group setting), and I feel most comfortable at home. Preferably with a book, cup of tea or coffee, and gentle music in my earbuds.

All bookishness aside (though I would gladly talk about my love for books for hours), it’s part of my personality that I’m not very much of a social butterfly. I love people…one-on-one.

I find that a lot of times I lose myself in a group and find myself off to the side. I’d much rather converse with one friend than contribute to a group conversation in which we talk about pointless things.

That’s just who I am, and I’m still trying to accept the fact that 90% of my friends are extroverts and introverts understand me so much more. But it’s okay.

See, as humans, we all are different. Very different in fact. There’s not a right or a wrong personality, just like it’s not right to be a bus driver and wrong to be a waiter. Everyone has different gifts, and they’re all really important, especially as Christians.

God made us all with a purpose and a plan!

Psalm 139:14

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

For me, that’s a relief, because a lot of times, I feel like there must be something wrong with me. Social situations can be quite awkward, even if I know exactly what’s going on. Why don’t I just connect with friendly people my age?

Although I can’t really answer that, because I don’t really know, I do know that I have a purpose.

1 Corinthians 12:14-18

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.

I’ve come to understand that there’s nothing really wrong with me. I’m a rare introvert, and while I wish I had closer friendships, God has made me to be me. And I have a purpose in an extroverted world…even when it seems as though I’m a circular puzzle piece in a square-jigsaw-puzzle of a world.

As a Christian, I’m realizing that while having a unique personality is all well and good, it’s really important what we do with it.

Do I keep quiet about my faith in compromising situations because I’m “not comfortable” with speaking up and obeying my convictions?

Do I ignore the New Kid because I feel like introducing myself will be awkward?

Do I refuse to serve at church in a position that’s out of my comfort zone?

Do I ignore the Holy Spirit’s prompting to share the Gospel because “it doesn’t feel right”?

This is where, as a member of the Body of Christ, I can get in trouble.

Because God doesn’t call us specifically to comfort.

Oh yes, He uses us right where we are. In fact, I don’t know if I’d be blogging if I spoke all these words instead of writing them.

But if God calls us to do something, we are wrong to refuse it because it’s “not our thing”.

We are all different, but we are all called to be salt and light in a dark world, and to share the Gospel.

It’s never easy, and it’s something that I think we all need to work on.

So, I’m going to take advantage of who God has made me to be. Places like this blog give me the opportunity to share my faith. Having close friendships help me to have meaningful discussions about important matters. Solitude helps me to get to know who God is more and more. When it’s quiet, and I feel alone, I remember that God is always with me and He will never leave.

But also, I’m going to take advantage of the opportunities that God puts in my path to serve Him, and I’m not going to rely on comfort to make decisions for me.

I have decided that I will live my life for my Lord, who has loved me first and saved my soul. It doesn’t matter if befriending someone is awkward; if God is nudging me to do something, I will do it. For living for Him is all that matters. Here and Now will fade away, but God stands for all eternity.

My personality doesn’t get me off the hook for serving God. I have a part to play in this world. I have so many opportunities, both within my comfort zone and outside of it, and I’m not going to give them up.

2 Timothy 1:8-9

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began[.]

We have a holy calling. Isn’t that amazing? Let’s follow after God in what He is calling us to do, both in what comes easy, and what we have to rely on God’s strength for.

It’s not about us, it’s about Him.

Yes, I’m still an introvert. But yes, I am still a Christian. I have a different personality than most people, and I have a place in the Body of Christ. But I’m not limited…for God has plans for me, bigger than I could dream of. And I desire to be used by God.

*aj

Living To Be Freshly Pressed (Or Not)

Writing

Blogging (and all writing, for that matter) is absolutely amazing.

I love it so much.

I can press my fingertips to the keys on my keyboard, and almost magically, words come out.

It’s my joy to sit up until midnight (or 1am or 2am) and just express myself with written words that I could never formulate in speech.

I love to write about what God is doing in my life. What I’m learning. Who I am. And who I want to be. It’s a passion and a privilege of mine to be able to use my little fingertips for the glory of God.

No matter what others tell me, I’m going to keep on journaling and typing, because that is what I love to do, and it is one of my ways that I worship God.

However, there is a very interesting feature on WordPress called “Freshly Pressed”. Basically, WordPress employees find ten well-written and interestingly-expressed blog posts (that have a unique point of view and are attractive) every day from around the WordPress blogosphere and promote them on the WordPress Freshly Pressed page. To many bloggers, this is an AMAZING goal.

I mean, who wouldn’t want five million views on their blog and potentially millions of followers because one post went viral?

Tell me, who doesn’t want to be popular?

This presents a slight problem. See, I can almost assure you that people have blogs dedicated to “trying to make their posts go viral”. If you know anything about modern media, well, you’ll know that it doesn’t happen that way. You can’t produce viral content purposefully, but I suppose that people don’t really understand that.

At the same time, I think we forget this point that should be so obvious to us in life.

So many people live their lives for show. They live to be cool and popular. (Sounds to me like another way of saying ‘viral’ and ‘Freshly Pressed’.) But really, does that make a lot of sense?

Let me put it back in blogging and writing terms.

Every Monday and Friday night, I stay up late doing what I love. I eat chocolate (shh, don’t tell Mom and Dad…just kidding) and listen to instrumental music (good for the brain) and wear away my laptop keys in the beautiful silence.

And not only do I love doing it, but I write for one main reason: I do it because I love the One who saved my soul, and my life is dedicated to Him.

I don’t write to make my post popular, though high stats days are definitely nice. But see, if I were to write for being Freshly Pressed only, well, I think that would alter my content.

Hypothetically, I wouldn’t express my faith so openly.

I’d probably side with the secular world when it came to issues like marriage and politics, relationships and worldviews.

I would probably use explicit language to “blend in” with everyone else.

And honestly, to me, that sounds miserable.

I will either write to please God, or I will write to please the world.

Do I really want to write words that pacify a bunch of little mortals, or do I want to please the Almighty God of the Universe and hear Him say “Well Done”?

I’m going with the latter.

And I believe life is the same way.

As a Christian, do I want to hide my faith, act like everyone else, hold the views of the secular world (that the Bible is clearly against) use inappropriate language, and ditch the Bible for temporary popularity?

UM, NO WAY. Never in a million years.

I have made my choice that I do not need the approval of the world to live my life. I already have the approval of the Creator of EVERYTHING EVER, so what more do I need?

Am I going to live to be Freshly Pressed, or live to please my Lord and my God?

Am I going to change my lifestyle to be popular according to the world’s standards, or live to serve my Maker and Sustainer?

I choose to live in freedom. I am free from the mold that the world has set upon me to be popular and cool, and I am going to live for God.

And if no one else does? Well, I still will.

*aj