Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Becoming Who God Wants You to Be


A couple of weeks ago I posted a note on my bathroom mirror of a quote from Sue Monk Kidd: 

“You become what you pay attention to.”

Periodically I post stuff like this to my mirror to help me remember the life-ideas that resonate with me for one reason or another.  Sometimes my conscious mind can’t fully explain why-- other than it just seems like something I want to spend some thought on.

One morning years ago I walked out the front door to see the sun shining through the trees on a foggy morning and was so gobsmacked at the sight that I immediately took a picture on my phone. 


Later that day I printed it and pasted it to my mirror along with a verse from a hymn:

“Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed thy hand hath provided.”

It’s been there on my mirror ever since. Likewise, the Maya Angelou quote:

A woman in harmony with her spirit
 is like a river flowing. 
 She goes where she will without pretense 
and arrives at her destination,
 prepared to be herself and only herself.


-Maya Angelou
 
So it’s not unusual for me to post quotes to the bathroom mirror. I have a lot of quotes and pictures there. It's a big mirror.  But I left enough room to see my face.They are the invisible ammunition I take with me into the world every day.

The latest one by Sue Monk Kidd is another step on my path toward becoming who I want to be. 

I have no master plan of who I want to become.  I only know the absolute joy at the luxury of being able to decide who it is that I want to become. Every choice, every spoken word, every gesture is part of the definition of who I am and what I value in a person. I get to decide.

When I was working for the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance in Mississippi after Katrina I needed to get a haircut after a while.  So I went to DuJuan Bosarge. I had helped build the stairs on her new house and I knew she had a beauty shop behind her house.  But she never took any money for my haircuts.  "No," she would say.  "I get to decide who pays me and I've decided that you can't pay me. You people have done so much for our town that I won't take any money from you. That's a decision that I get to make."

She got to decide who she wanted to be.

Lately, I’ve decided I want to be a woman who wears some low-key jewelry……so in an uncharacteristic move I’ve bought a few sets of earrings with some flair.  I have worn the persona of Plain Jane for far too long.  For many years I would get a rash if I wore anything but 14 carat gold earrings so you can understand the logic of having only one pair of earrings.  But, after several years of letting my ear lobes rest in all their 14 carat glory, for some reason I can’t explain, the ears are OK now.  I could put sticks or bones through the holes in my ears now and I’d be OK. So, it’s off to the store for earrings.
 
But nothing too expensive. After my first trip to Guatemala and seeing the lives of people with less material goods I swore off expensive jewelry.  I inherited all my mother’s jewelry, including the diamond ring Daddy got her for their 20th anniversary.  And I don’t wear it because it makes me feel uncomfortable.  I decided on the plane home from Guatemala in 1999 that I didn’t want to be a person who spent money on diamond rings.  I didn’t even want to appear to be someone like that.  So the ring sits in a drawer.  I can’t get rid of it because it's a family heirloom and I don’t really want to wear it.

 I have chosen to become a person who values spiritual wealth over material. And I don’t want to appear otherwise, even when I know where the ring came from.  

This becoming someone new spread into other areas of my life.

My friend Linda and I visited Shirley a couple of months ago.  Linda took Shirley a hostess gift to thank her in advance for opening her home to us.  And I thought to myself in an earnest and hushed tone of voice, “I want to be like that. I want to be a person who takes gifts to my hostess when I visit.”  Beaven and I lived such a Spartan life for so long that I had dug a foxhole in the financial terrain and never came out.  Then I never noticed when we crossed over the threshold and gained the ability to be a little more relaxed with our money. I forgot to come out of the foxhole, even in order to be generous to other people

But I decided to change and become a women who takes hostess gifts when she visits.  It’s still hard to unclench my fingers from the checkbook and I’m afraid it’s mostly from my own self-centeredness; if I spend money on others, there will be less to spend on myself.

Our Parish Associate years ago taught me a phrase:  “The attitude of abundance versus the attitude of scarcity.” This is a helpful quote to throw around during pledge campaigns but Clay used it for many other occasions.   We hesitate to give because we are afraid we will run out of resources, never realizing that God has unlimited resources.  We hesitate to give of ourselves because we are afraid that somehow it will deplete us of the spiritual energy that we might need for ourselves.  We fail to trust God to renew us like eagles. Isaiah 40:31

Our family had a couple of conversations over Easter weekend about some minor rearranging of our family gatherings.  As usual, it called for fewer desserts, but also delved into the dynamics of our family.  We dropped some old traditions that weren’t working for us and added some new ones that we think will be more helpful. 

 In short, we realized that we have the luxury of building this family into something a little different.  We made a group decision to become who we want to be. 

I’ve been Presbyterian all my life.  I’ve never known anything different. In addition to knowing the answer to the first question in the Westminster Catechism, “What is the chief end of man?” I know the motto of the Presbyterian Church is “Ecclesia Reformata, Semper  Reformanda.” The Church reformed, always reforming.

Always Reforming.  Churches.  Families.  Ourselves.

Here’s my challenge to you this week:  Decide who you want to become.  Trust that God can make that happen. The chief end of all humanity—our whole purpose of being here-- is to glorify God and enjoy God forever. If you want to change and become someone who will more vibrantly glorify God, God will make sure it happens.  Trust the words of Isaiah.

But those who wait for the Lord
Shall renew their strength,
They shall mount up with wings like eagles
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

1 comment:

Nancy W said...

Thank you, Jane. Words I needed to hear today. Miss and love you!