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Monday, July 4, 2011

Building Identity: Part 3 of 5

Acting: A Role and A Context

Have you ever noticed how many unpleasant personality tendencies this world offers?  Passive aggressive types.  Super-duper sensitive types.  Super-duper sensitive types who are also insensitive to others.  Hoarders.  The worst part is, you and I probably fit loosely into any number of unpleasant categories ourselves.  [Maybe I shouldn’t lump you in.  You might be terrific.  But I am idiosyncratic, and this is my blog.]  So once we get honest about how freaky and offensive we can be, there are two ways in which to process that information.

Option 1: “I may act this way, but it’s not who I am!”
This is the positive take.  It’s also not really true; they way you instinctively act probably IS who you are (sorry).  But on the bright side, to view our tendencies this way requires nothing of us!

Option 2: “I recognize that this is who I am, but it’s not who I will decide to be.”
This is the negative angle, the one they won’t print in SELF magazine.  It’s realistic, though, and goal-oriented.

The best part about deciding to be less [insert flaw-y adjective] is that the plan is mapped out for us, the role model designated.  It’s delightfully one-size-fits-all.  No matter what your brand of imperfection, you are just as hopeless as everyone else.  And in my personal version of hopelessness, I can exclaim, “YES! I am a people pleaser with irritating nervous twitches, but I am getting a little more like Jesus every day!”

In the day-to-day of it, though, it’s hard to leave behind your snobby/aggressive/over-sharing/mouth-breathing ways.  One practical way to envision this problem is as improv theatre.  (I just wanted to say “practical” and “theatre” together in a sentence.)

I’ve never been in an improv because they usually end in chase scenes, and also I’m not funny.  But I did lighting for one once, and it seems that they usually work off a loose script or outline.  The details, the punchy lines, the parts where Jimmy Fallon drops character and laughs, may be more off-the-cuff.  Here’s what this means for a people pleaser or a Sensitive Sally. 

We have a role within a context.  We are part of a complete story.  So situations change, but the purpose of our dialogue is constant.  We have meaning and order within the chaos of the unknown.  We have a loose outline: we are to glorify God and testify to him with our reactions and behavior and speech.  The scene may play out in spontaneous ways, but we know the general punch line we have to deliver, so we have a security, even an adventure, within the chaos.

What’s our role?  We were passive aggressive low-talkers who always took the last brownie.  But now we are Christians.  And our context is the story of a fallen world’s redemption.  It’s an identity worth hoping for.

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