Daily Living

Changing Our Stripes in the New Year?

I found this to be encouraging today. It stands in stark contrast to the kind of thing we usually tell ourselves this time of year, and is an excellent reminder:

In truth, we cannot become anything other than who we already are, if we wish to be fulfilled in our lives and vocation. We must stop trying to “become” something else, or to “develop” or “cultivate” some trait that we fundamentally lack, and instead start being who we already are by identifying our giftedness and living it out.

Our gifts and talents all come from the hand of almighty God. We can’t claim them as our own, as if we created or designed them by ancestry or practice. But each of us has a responsibility to know what they are and lean into them with an earnest desire to develop them throughout our lives.

-Stephen A. Macchia, Crafting a Rule of Life: An Invitation to the Well-Ordered Way

It doesn’t mean we never try to do better, or we never try harder, or we don’t try to form better habits. But notice his wording — we must not try to cultivate some trait we ultimately lack. Deep down, we know some things just aren’t in our DNA. It’s healthy and shows wisdom to say, at times, “this is me, and I accept it.” As several self-help and Christian-living authors and  are starting to admit, it’s a shame we tell each other when we’re young, “you can be anything you want to be.” That’s not really true. We were each created to be a certain person, and the challenge is to figure out who that person is, and be the truest version of that person possible. (See also Mac Lucado’s book, Cure for the Common Life: Living in Your Sweet Spot)

Part of the problem we run into with “I want to be this kind of person” or “I want to do this/that/the other thing” is the first word in those sentences — I. What about asking who we were made to be in the first place?  What about going outside our perspective to that of the One who made us? What about taking inventory of the things we’re already good at, what we love to do, what we’re passionate about, and putting those things together like a puzzle? If I can’t spell or form complete sentences, maybe God didn’t plan on me becoming an editor at a publishing company. If I can’t remember names and faces, maybe I wasn’t intended to be a salesperson. If I’m not mechanically inclined, maybe I wasn’t meant to fix cars. The fun part is asking “what do I enjoy doing?” and then realizing, well maybe there’s a reason for that! What if, instead of wishing we could spend time on the things we like to do when there are too many other things we have to do, we ask if we’re doing the right thing in the first place? What if, in this new year (and with wisdom and prayer), we looked at how we could change the things we like to do into the things we do the most often, and saw those as our primary responsibility? What if we’re doing the world a disservice by not doing our favorite things, being happy doing them, and doing those things better than anyone else since it’s what we were made to do?



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