An online quiz promised to tell me what kind of cookie matches my personality. I was hoping for chocolate chip, but I got oatmeal raisin. The shame. Maybe I’ll do better with my spirit animal …
We’re obsessed. Chances are, if you’re like me, you know your Myers Briggs letters, or your Disney princess, or maybe even what Hogwart’s school fits you best. I’m Gryffindor.
Of course it’s harmless and fun, but with all this talk, I’m finding myself ranking my personality high or low, evaluating, comparing, wishing…. At least I’m not Slytherin, right?
I wish I could be more reserved and analytical, more logical and patient, but no matter how hard I try, I’m emotional, spontaneous, and talk too much at meetings and parties.
Over and over and from an early age, I heard that God wanted me to be like His Son. So naturally, after watching Jesus of Nazareth on our 1970’s console TV, I practiced the Jesus I saw on the screen: somber, slow-walking, expressionless, and raising graceful arms while talking to my apostles friends on the playground…
… Yeah. No one wanted to follow me that week.
Though also discouraging in comparison, I was way more fun after watching Wonder Woman.
Switching channels, PBS told me “Just be yourself” over and over, creating a harassing tension in my young soul. Be yourself. Be like Jesus.
How can I be myself when myself seems so different from Him?
Recently, I scrolled past another quiz: What’s Your Personality Soup? I didn’t click, but it got me thinking.
Perhaps my personality is like a broth or a stock, fearfully and wonderfully made. Stay with me …
I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works and that my soul knows well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth – Psalm 139: 14-15
But no one secretly and skillfully makes broth just to make broth, right?
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. – Philippians 1:6
God made me from the beginning AND is at work in me now, making me complete.
That’s complete. Not completely different. But how so? Back to scripture…
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope… -Romans 5: 3-4
Character. Character isn’t about how we act at a party or what answers we choose on a quiz. Character is our observable moral qualities.
And Suffering? Yeah, I noticed that, too. Unfortunately, this isn’t drive-through.
But it’s worth it. This suffering-produced character takes our personality and makes into what it was meant to be without boiling it away. Yielding the very best version of me. And you.
This character is also called the Fruit of the Spirit –
… love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control -Galatians 5 22-23 –
And another name for the Fruit of the Spirit is the character of Christ. It’s what I missed on the TV when I was too busy looking for personality.
When Christ is added to our natured and nurtured broth, stock is transformed into God’s soup de jour. For such a time as this…
And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this? – Esther 4:14
For this day…
See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. – Matthew 26:45
Only children and fools can watch Jesus willingly surrender His life for the sinners of the world and come away with a lesson in stoicism.
I’m long past those console TV and PBS days. I also know something of suffering, endurance, and hope.
The technique? Emmanuel. God with us. God doesn’t lock us in a pressure cooker and walk away. Nor does He delegate us to a sous-chef. He’s attentive, stirring, adjusting the heat, letting us simmer for a while…
With God, I can be fast, funny, and a feeler – and still emit the fragrance of Christ. So long, somber slow-walk. So long Wonder Woman. No screen’s big enough for this greatness.
Right now, God’s at work on your spirit animal, too. He’s cooking up a heavenly blend of Jesus of Nazareth and your sugar-cookie self. He’s begun a good work.
You weren’t made for this tension. Those two conflicting messages can become one resounding, comforting Voice. Be yourself. Be with Me.
Smell something cooking?
pots/pans photo: Scott Umstattd
cookfire photo: Tikkho Maciel
spirit animal photo: Erik-Jan Leusink
Many thanks to the WordPress engineers who worked to recover this post after it mysteriously and completely disappeared when I hit “Publish”. And thank you, dear reader, for clicking twice. 🙂