We had some friends over the other night who are new to our church. They are in that stage where they have met more people than names they can remember.
We have all had this conversation.
First, you are asked if you know a certain person. Chances are you do, but you have no idea what their name is. You met them once, probably twice, and you really weren’t all that focused on the title given to them by their parents. It was more important to you to size them up and place them in one of your own people categories. Sometimes you give them your own title such as “the really sweaty guy” or “the lady who snorts.” To our minds this makes so much more sense than “Joe” or “Mary.”
It then becomes necessary for you to say, “I’m sorry, I am not very good with names.” The statement is part excuse, part declaration that we just need to move past the “forgetting the name” part and begin the “describe the person” part.
Then the exercise goes to the next level. You define them from your perspective. Options vary from hairstyle and clothing to crooked teeth or how much they perspire.
And this game reveals a sad truth about us. When we meet someone we are better at remembering small aspects of their personality, or at least what we perceive their persoanlity to be, than we are their name, and maybe who they really are.
Who I Want To Be
This past Friday night I took the game to another level. I became offended at how our friends described someone else.
We were trying to identify a certain person. After I took my turn in the game, our guests wanted to confirm their suspicions and they responded with their own take.
“Oh yeah. The guy that wears stylish clothes and black rimmed glasses. His hair is kind of messy. You know, the artsy guy.”
They seemed to have him pegged, and I was okay with their description of him. I was disappointed simply because I felt left out.
I wanted to be the artsy guy.
My mind went in a million directions. I wanted to stop the conversation and ask why didn’t they cosnider me to be the artsy guy in church. They must not realize I write a blog. Blogging is incredibly creative. Sure, anyone with a computer and an internet connection can write a blog, but I am trying to change the world with my blog. Could they not see my revolutionary vision?
I realize I do not have cool hair, but if I had more hair, then maybe I would have long, messy, artsy hair.
And what about the fact that I have at some point in the past purchased clothing at Urban Outfitters. How is that not artsy? To top it all off I was wearing my yellow Pumas. How can you get any more nonconforming and creative than buying a pair of shoes and wearing them?
In my leglaism I was more concerned about appearances than I was actually being something. Time, effort, and energy were all wasted trying to maintain a certain impression.
And in my response to a description of someone else, I realized that I am still worried about putting on a costume and maintaining an appearance.
Maybe its not a legalism issue. Maybe its a just a human issue.
Who I really Am
Then I wondered how others might describe me when they have to play the game.
“Have you met Jeremy?”
“I’m not sure. What is he like?”
My hope and goal is for them to not just describe what I appear to be, but who I really am. Not an appearance I create based on where I shop or how i cut my hair or what music I listen to, but rather who I am because of what my life is a response to.
And my hope is that they might say something to this effect.
“He is that guy that everytime you walk away from him you feel energized and full of life. God’s love for him saturates every aspect of his personality. You see it in the way he treats other people. You can feel it in every word that he says or writes. I have never met another person who is more gracious, kind, and forgiving. And you do not get the feeling that he is performing. It just seems to be who he is. He can’t seem to help himself.”
I hope that I can quit trying to prove who I am and simply be who I am.
The beloved of God.
How do you want others to describe you? Are you good at remembering names or do you have to play the game? Share your thoughts here.
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