Tuesday, April 12, 2011

And I Find It Kind of Funny; I Find It Kind of Sad

     So. It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, but…. Well, I really don’t have an excuse, so let’s leave my shameful negligence out of this. Changing the subject, I’ve been thinking lately. It’s a departure from my normal activities, I know, but I decided to go with it. It all started when I heard a song called Mad World. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard it, but it’s kind of creepy and a little dark. The feel of it is just a bit unsettling. But do you know something? I love this song. I listened to it over and over, and I even learned it on the piano, which is unheard of for me. It’s a funny thing, but the fact that I liked the song so much disturbed me. I said to myself, “Have I finally gone over the dark side? Why do I adore this song? I’m a bad person. What is the matter with me?

     I don’t know if that ever happens to you. Do you ever feel guilty about your personal preferences? Movies, books, songs, clothing; there’s just something about this thing you like that’s just not quite “right.” Maybe you like dark books or strange movies. Maybe the style of dress or music you prefer is widely accepted as being from the devil. Myself, I have an intense interest in
criminal psychology, and the mind of a criminal is precisely the place that a good Christian girl should make a point of avoiding. I shouldn’t like any of these things, and neither should you, you bad, bad creature.

     Am I right?

     Well, no. Of course not. That’s just silly. It’s a widespread problem among Christians: we try to create a perfect personality and mold ourselves to fit it. There are two personality types: male and female. Ideally, the female personality should look something like this: Her likes include sewing, cooking, caring for children, reading the works of Martin Luther and John Calvin, learning foreign languages, and she may also have a preference for beekeeping or making soap. Her general attitude is quiet, submissive, and dependent. A male personality is rather like this: He likes action movies, hunting, farming, gun shows, and coffee. He dislikes the government, housework, tea, and chick flicks. He is very dominant. And they both have reasonably the same fashion taste, which is plain, sensible, and respectable.

     Perhaps you see the problem here. The problem is not that these personality types in and of themselves are evil or foolish. The problem is that once you start labeling one personality as “godlier” than any others, things get ugly very fast. And I’ll tell you why: because not everyone is like this. In fact, very few of us are like this. And why should we be? God loves variety. It’s the spice of life. Every last one of us is different and unique. Do you think God created us that way so that we could force ourselves to change into someone else? No. That would be stupid. And it goes beyond stupid when people start trying to guilt-trip you into becoming someone you are not.

     That’s just not fair. It’s just cruel to make someone feel guilty for something they can’t help. There’s no such thing as a single, prefect “Christian personality,” and don’t let anyone tell you differently. Most girls are just not going to have a love for cooking and cleaning and taking care of children all the time, and most guys are not going to be farmers. That’s just how it is. A Christian personality could look like virtually anything. I mean, honestly, now. Is a preference for dressing in skinny jeans really going to send you to Hell? It’s a poor fashion choice, to be sure, but nothing more. We tend to judge others by their tastes and preferences, and anyone whose tastes and preferences do not line up with what we believe is “holy” is simply living in sin, and shame on them for being that kind of person. But think about this. Can you show me a verse in the Bible that says, “Thou shalt have no liking for heavy metal music; nay, and neither shalt thou wear upon thy legs any form of jeans that are called skinny: lest My holy vengeance fall upon thee.” No, of course you can’t. That’s because there is no such verse.

     Now, there are certain preferences that really are a problem and should be addressed. Things like kleptomania and serial killing are frowned upon in general society, and rightly so. We all have issues, and we all have areas that we need to change. But whether or not you paint your nails black and have a nose piercing is really your own business and nobody else’s, and don’t let anybody guilt you into thinking that you’re a follower of Satan if you do. If you feel guilty for something you’ve done, that could very well be legitimate. Not that it always is. But if you feel constantly guilty for being the person you are, something is very, very wrong. Your personality is your own, and it makes you who you are.

     Granted, there are certain aspects that should be a part of a Christian character. Things like faith, hope, love, strength, and such. But character and personality are two very, very different things. And there’s no single perfect Christian character anyway. Look around you. No snowflake is the twin of its fellow! The trees are shaped irregularly unless we trim them ourselves. Three hundred sixty-five sunsets in a year and not one looks like the other. As I write this, I see a basket full of apples that are each shaped and sized uniquely. In my own family, the faces, builds, and coloring differ vastly from sibling to sibling. Doesn’t it seem obvious to you that God created the world to be varying and unpredictable on purpose? He seems to like things that way. Our tastes and preferences help to shape who we are!

     I would not be me if I did not love 24 and P. G. Wodehouse (and Harry Potter! There. I said it.), and Amy would not be Amy if she did not love dogs and food. Allen would not be Allen if he did not wear man-jewelry and own a bazillion pairs of shades. Allison would not be Allison if she were meek and quiet and shy, instead of being loud and fun and silly! And now for you… Why, you would not be you if you did not love the music you love and dress the way you like to! And what if you didn’t have the hopes and dreams you do? If you didn’t have your various quirks and ambitions and desires and whatever else it is that shapes your personality, you would be…. Well, you would be someone else entirely. Look at the Bible. God loves you. Nowhere does it say that God loves the person you should be or the person you could become if you just worked a little bit harder. Guess what that means? You do not have to bury your personality and assume a new one. If you are a girl, and you like sports better than cooking, or if you would rather be studying law than cleaning all day, then so be it! If you are a guy, and you have a distaste for farming or you are not really into guns, well, who says you have to be? I hereby give you permission to watch Pride and Prejudice, and like it (not, of course, that you need my permission. That’s the beauty of it.)! Be the person God created you to be! Some people will look askance at you, but what of it? Let ‘em eat cake.

     So what exactly is a godly personality? It looks like this: someone who loves God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. And that’s pretty much all there is to it.

5 comments:

  1. Okay, first off, dogs and food?? I am a *much* more complex woman than that, thank you very much. hehe.

    You are an incredible writer, Andrea. =)

    This whole thing is part of what I call Cookie Cutter Syndrome. It's just sad when people try to shove circles into triangles.

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  2. So what exactly is a godly personality? It looks like this: someone who loves God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. And that’s pretty much all there is to it.

    Beautiful way to sum it up, Andrea. Nice post.

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  3. My wife LOVES looking into the criminal mind. She watches Forensic Files and any murder or criminal show she can get her hands on while on the run. I think she just raised my life insurance last month too. Hmmmm...

    Thanks for the insights!

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  4. Andrea,

    Great Post.

    God does love variety.

    I think you have hit on something that is a much bigger problem within Christianity than most would admit. That is, gnostic thinking. The idea that things in themselves are "evil". (Cursed physical universe, etc.)

    On the other hand, if we live in the same world (biological death included) as Adam did before the fall, then we can finally place "the curse" where it should be. In the context of our relationship with God, which is fixed through Christ.

    The prevailing view of Genesis may be causing a great deal of problems in wider theology and certainly is leading to gnostic concepts, which in turn, leads directly to legalism.

    Ponder that dynamic for a while...

    We need to start understanding the Bible as God's love story to His Children and reading it that way instead of reading it as a "list of rules" to live by so we can avoid "hell".

    Here is a great sermon series that hit's on both of these subjects simultaneously.

    http://www.truthinliving.org/index.php?pr=SerGRD

    Great post as usual. I am glad you are still writing!
    Blessings,
    Micah

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  5. Darling, that was fantastic! you are an amazing writer with great insight. by the way criminal minds are a very intriguing place to me too. =]

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