Recently, I got the luxury of a few hours to myself. In the daytime. If you’re a parent, you’ll know what I’m on about. Bliss!
I headed into town for a bit of cake at York Cocoa House. Whilst there, I took out a notepad and pen and thought and wrote, thought and wrote. Taking advantage of the beautiful sunshine, I spent the next couple of hours sitting in Minster Gardens, continuing to think, pray and read (Philippians, if you’re interested).
I was taking time out to – well, to re-evaluate my use of time. See, I’m an ideas freak who never likes to sit down for more than a few minutes, thrives on hecticness (hecticity? I think I like that better) and always wants to say ‘yes’ to new commitments or projects which excite me. And I’m excited by quite a lot. But I’d realised that I was over-stretching myself. Important things were getting missed out. I wasn’t getting time to rest, to reflect, to plan. My life had become one big to-do list.
A friend commented to me recently how strange it is when people happily admit their character flaws, followed by a statement like “that’s just the way I am”. “I’m far too outspoken – but that’s just the way I am.” “I don’t like not getting my own way – that’s just me.” My friend wondered why, if someone had discovered an unsavoury part of their character, they didn’t just change it?
Part of the answer might be that, secretly, we’re quite proud of our character, even the bits that might be seen as more negative. Because even these character traits have the potential for good. “My life is too busy.” (This one’s mine.) It’s not a bad thing to be busy (Proverbs 31:27), not a bad thing to have ideas, to want to see them through, to have an eye for detail. In fact, all these things can be very good. Trouble is, my busyness has the potential to interrupt my relationship with God. My busyness can make me look like I’m on fire for Him when in reality I’ve hardly acknowledged Him for days. The time I had to myself recently, as well as being very much needed for its own sake, helped me look more widely at how I use my time, pray things through and seek some guidance over what to focus on and what to let go.
“It’s just the way I am” is not good enough. Yes, God made me like this. I am not a mistake. But I am not perfect. I am not yet part of the new creation. I am in the process of being refined and, to truly discover who I am, I need to give myself over to the One who knows me better than I know myself. Only He can change me into the person I was created to be. And this will be my true, full identity. Not “the way I am” but “the way I’m designed to be”. And it will be fuller, richer and more glorious than anything I’m proud of now!