Sunday, May 5, 2019

I am who I am - no more, no less

I am always surprised when I hear of these 'leagues' of children's teams where no one wins and no one loses. All are winners - that seems to be the concept being taught. Now, I understand we want the kids to become enthralled with the pursuit of the sport and that we want to encourage time involved in physical activity, but where in life do we ever see that you always win? When the child faces his or her real 'first loss', how will they handle it? The sport somehow turns to one of winning and losing - there is not an entire 'sport pathway' that is merely based on just showing up to play! In the end, someone keeps score, determines a 'winning team' or 'winning athlete'. Then we have the other side of the coin where some coaches focus so much on winning they lose sight of encouraging the kiddos to actually have any enjoyment in the sport. In fact, they almost intimidate the kids by their 'win at all cost' demands. It seems we need a balance - a realistic view of the issue of failure combined with a very rewarding view of having had all the pieces fall into place on the 'win' side of the 'scoreboard'.

Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here's what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It's the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn't wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn't wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn't wisdom. It's the furthest thing from wisdom—it's animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you're trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others' throats. (James 3:13-16)

We each have to deal with the tendency we have to not be content with who WE are and what WE are able to do - the talents we all possess. We are looking to have 'purpose' as defined by what WE are and not so much WHO we are in Christ Jesus. There is too much gray in our hair - so we rush to color it or pluck it out, quickly forgetting that each one is a mark of wisdom. The mid-section has too much "beef" - so we buy the "love handle" exercise widget of the hour, forgetting we find lots of ways to avoid even the idea of exercise in our lives. The clothes we just bought three months ago are already classified as "out of style" - so we send them off to the thrift store while we rush to the department stores to buy the latest in fashion - forgetting that God just asks us to be modestly dressed and content with what we have. All the while, we neglect the biggest thing that brings contentment in life - being happy with who and what we are in Christ Jesus!

Yes, my mid-section could use a little work and I am not up-to-date on my wardrobe selections. My hair is almost not recognizably brunette any longer. But...I am who I am! No more, no less. There is nothing I can do that will change that - try as I might, I am who I am and no one else is me! I can make myself "look" better - but it is the "inside" that counts! We have lost sight of the fact that inner character is the true measure of a man or a woman. This is something we'd do well to relearn! Mom has spent about the past nine months not always recognizing me. She sometimes thinks there is more than one of me in the house - others saying they are me, but not really me. Yesterday she seemed to come to some revelation, though. She was staring at my neck as I bent in front of her doing her hair. She reached out and touched my chain with the little dove on it. All of a sudden she proclaimed she knew I was the 'real' one! All because of the little chain. That tiny symbol helped her to connect with me and she asked me to never take it off because it would be her way of always being able to recognize me. I don't plan to remove the necklace!

We are all "what we are". No more, no less. When we come to that realization, we are liberated to begin to live "just as God made us". With all the quirks and nuances of our character. We stop judging others for what they have, how they act, or what they say. We start seeing others as gifts in our lives - someone placed there for this moment in time. We also begin to see others and ourselves as God sees us - with the 'recognizable' signs of his Spirit within each of us. The idea of contentment is being satisfied with what or who we are - not wanting anything else - because we already have much more than we realize. It is coming to a place of satisfaction - knowing that we are "perfect" in God's eyes. Yes, he encourages us to keep our bodies in shape - but he doesn't want us to make our bodies our gods. Yes, he desires for us to have things that will make life easier - but he doesn't want us to elevate those things to a level of importance that exceeds his in our life. What we "are" first and foremost is children of God - direct heirs of his grace and his love! No more, no less! Just sayin!

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