I’ve figured out how to play the game. It really is no big deal, once you get it. At home I’m called Dad by my kids and Honey by my wife. I’m Mr. Fixit and the man with the plan and the setter of goals. At work I’m the organizer in chief, the solver of problems, and the team player. When at church I’m reverent and reserved, respectful and righteous. Among friends I’m the thinker and the listener, quick with dry sarcasm and a pat on the back to show I mean no harm. This is me…all of it…but not all the time. I’ve learned that I can’t be “Dad” to my friends or “reverent” and “reserved” at work. I can’t treat my family like a sports team and most definitely cannot be sarcastic with my wife and expect her to call me “Honey”….more than likely I’ll get a steely gaze with “that’s enough, Dear” attached. I am each to one and all to none. I have figured it out…everyone is kept happy and I am exhausted.
How do we do it? I mean, especially for those of us who have a deep-seated need to please and in turn be accepted, how do we reconcile who we really are? Do we really even have a true self or are we just playing a role depending on the situation or circumstance? I have, (and I would guess most of you have as well), found that there is an identity that I have…something that I call ‘me’…that few people ever really see. It is made up of the thoughts and emotions that are always swirling but never spoken; the excitement that is held back; the sorrow that is boxed up; and the dreams that are shelved for another time. It is the deeply rooted faith with a tall sturdy trunk and no showy branches. This is who I really am…if you really get to know me…and few have.
I’ve come to understand what Paul meant when he wrote to the Corinthians, “I have become all things to all men that by all means, I might save some.” It is not, never has been, and never will be about me. There may come a time when someone I work with will need encouragement; I can be an encourager. There will be times when my kids are facing a difficult task; I can be a coach. A program at church may be falling apart and need an organizer; I can do that. And there are times when I can be playfully sarcastic with my wife…and she’ll still call me Honey. I can share my emotions and be excited as well as sad. I can dig my roots deeper while my branches reach for my dreams. I can be all these things. I can be like a Christian multitool; give a hug, share some wisdom, smile and nod, shout “Amen!” and shed a few tears, help someone else shine and offer a hand of help. It is who I am ‘in Christ’ that makes the difference. It is being ‘in Christ’ that allows me to be all things to all people so some may be saved. It is far too confusing to know who needs what, when, where, and how much on my own. Christ knows their need and if I am sensitive enough to his prompt, he may just meet that need through me.