The Same, Only Different!
I can't speak for anyone else, but I often wonder if God was serious when He picked me! When I think of my inhibitions or those things I can't share with the world, I'm like, "Whew Lord, are You sure You want me to represent You?"
In life, I think it's natural to observe people, and sometimes low-key wanna be like them. Well, no, let me speak for myself. There was a point I wanted to be quiet and reserved. Ladylike and dainty with grace and poise and elegance—and if you know me in real life, you'd know most of which, I'm NOT!
Needless to say, I'm still the girl from primary school who talks too much. I'm still the kid that wrote her ABCs on all the walls and under the kitchen cupboards. I'm still that little girl with the high-pitched voice who is obnoxiously polite. The girl who grew into a teenager who could toggle between sounding like she had a megaphone in her throat and someone saying, "Girl, speak up, say it with ya chest!" Regardless of my life's drama, I'm still that bubbly soul who'd laugh at just about anything. Yes, so much is the same, but there is a noticeable difference.
When I tell you I prayed, I mean earnestly too, that my personality would be tapered. Initially, I thought that my mannerisms came across as what the old folks called 'unbecoming.' It took me a while to realize that I wasn't taking full advantage of the attributes God gave me. Because I was hung up on the perception of who I thought I should be and not who I truly am. I suppose that has more to do with where I come from than anything else.
While many of us usually won't admit a whole lot of stuff, deep down inside, we know there are some truths we're not comfortable saying out loud! Those same elements that I wanted to water down or hide evolved and became the tools meant to be used to complete my mission.
As Christians, it is without question that God wishes to bring change to our lives. The change, though, is more about getting our christ-like responses to override our kneejerk reactions. This requires loads of self-denial and self-control on our part. So what is the change that He wants to make? What are we supposed to deny? Both are excellent questions I hope we can discover together.
The assumption that God wishes to change our personality and eliminate those aspects that make us unique on the surface might seem logical. Nevertheless, He does not care so much about altering our personality as He does about altering our character. Let's face it, God gave you that loud course, raspy voice. He knew you'd be naturally funny because laughter is the chicken soup for someone's soul. God knew when He created you; He could trust you with adversity (yes, trust you to go through) cause He knew you'd be bold enough to tell the story someone would need to hear.
Rather than drastically changing our personalities, God merely redirects them. The Christian life emphasizes few distinctions more than others, and these distinctions help us achieve more significant accomplishments. There should be a noticeable difference, not so heavy on how we look but on who we are, especially when no one is watching. The two I focus most on are my love for God and now how I treat people. Why? Well, God says if you love me, then obey my commandments (John 14:15). That one thing covers the whole gamut—no loopholes there.
Like many people, I once resided in a glasshouse, but I loved to throw stones. I could point out a wrong and a flaw from 100 yards. I had what I call "the invisible beam syndrome." I saw 20/20 when it came to seeing another person's mote. I'll pick your eye to pieces, Jack, with no thought to my own eye situation. Sis could preside over your trial, baptize you with fire, and then turn around to give you judgement by applause.
Ironically, I found myself on the other side of that movie. I was no longer in the director's chair, but I was rated an epic fail by rotten tomato. Honey, a dose of self-made medication will clear you up quicker than raw garlic. Now I'm here wearing empathy-like mink lashes! #iseewhatyousaying
When we compare the Bible's descriptions of someone before and after becoming a Christian, we find that the person's personality remained intact. Despite the many changes occurring to them, they retained their identity. Only they now made a greater effort to follow God's plans rather than going against them.
Consider Paul, for example. In the chapter preceding his conversion, he is shown as a man of action and a superb leader. Persecuting Christians was like his career, and he was determined to make it to the top. He was like a terminator of sorts.
After becoming a Christian, he didn't lose either of these characteristics; but he was propelled in a new direction. He went from no-limit soldier to commander and chief in the army of the Lord. It was he who spearheaded outreach efforts for the young church, as well as the official spokesperson for Christian doctrine. Being a man of extraordinary intellectual capacities, he's known as a most prominent biblical scholar. It is said that Paul is responsible for writing about two-thirds of the New Testament. Now that's what you call an indelible mark!
Same Script, Different Cast
There are scores of biblical greats that are known for remaining who they are but redirecting their focus.
Moses' same but different. I don't know about you, but I've never read that his stuttering was cured. In fact, upfront, God was like, have no fear your mouthpiece, see him there! And Aaron was on the case, going with Moses to help him say what he said! He tried all he could to get out of being the one to approach Pharoah. Next thing you know, he was leading thousands to the Promised Land—though he never made it because he allowed the 'familiar' to resurface.
Countless others overcame their shortcomings but relapsed by letting familiarity breed content. David was a philandering studmuffin, but that man could repent; he literally wrote the book on it. David slept with Uriah's wife and then put him on the frontline in the heat of battle so he'd die. All so he could take this man's wife to cover his dirt.
By the end of his life, God decided David wasn't suitable to build the temple of the Lord. Truthfully his reign was too messy, from the affair with Bathsheba to the murder of her husband. Then his daughter Tamar was raped by her brother, and then said brother, Amnon, was murdered by his brother. Then there was an attempted coup by his son Absalom. David started off solid, but in the end, it was too much. Old habits die hard, I suppose.
Ahh, Samson, a warrior and a judge, was in direct violation of his Nazarite vow. As that infraction began with a woman, it also ended because of one. And while he killed more of his enemies when he died than while alive, that was not the purpose of his life. The Israelites, who he was born to save, continued to suffer after his death.
It all makes me question, "Who's life was I holding up because I took so long to stop doing dumbness?" You see, their difference was clearly for a God-given task, but that old nature, the parts not fully surrendered, became the downfall. That's not His plan for your life; believe that.
More of the Same
When we have our come to Jesus moment or embark on a spiritual journey (however you want to fancy it up or make it less spooky), we somehow think that a magic wand is waved and abracadabra; we're this brand new creature. No, sugar, it's a process.
It's like cooking a meal; every raw ingredient you begin with is still there. The onions, tomatoes, and sweet peppers are still the same, but only now have they been cut and simmered and seasoned, and their natural flavours come through.
Good cooking takes time though it needs to be soaked and simmered, heated and allowed to set. Like those great men of the Bible, they were not exempt from issues or struggles, but their shortcomings are what made them more memorable.
Most of us know someone who went hard in the paint while they partied their life away. And then we see them a few years later when they're saved and now going equally as hard—same energy, different motivation. The only thing God desires is for our hearts to be purified and our minds to be renewed. Your God-given personality was intentional, and it's a bit of a slap in His face to not embrace those traits that are unique to you.
The gag is, He wants you to be you, but better, meaning like Him. And that's the difference. Paul says, "This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT) Think of it this way, the same, only different—is your personality but with an upgrade.
So what changes does He want us to make? To allow Him to do the changing. What are we supposed to deny? Self. That's it! That's all!