In the movie Hitch there is a scene where Will Smith’s character is making suggestions to another character of how he should dress for a date. The other character says “I’m just not sure these shoes are me.” Smith looks at him and says “Right now, you is a very fluid concept.” It’s a trite moment in a light-hearted movie, but that phrase “you is a very fluid concept,” is actually profound and profoundly counter-cultural.
Too often we think of ourselves as “me”, a static person, unchanging and unpliable. This is to limit ourselves to our own detriment.
“That’s just who I am.” We’ve all heard people say it and very likely said it ourselves. It’s that ubiquitous explanation (read: excuse) for an action or attitude that strikes someone else oddly or even offends them. Sometimes it’s innocent, like when we’re explaining our accent, clothing choices, or cultural peculiarities (hugging, being loud, talking fast, hurrying, running late, etc.). More often, though, we say it to justify ourselves when we are offensive or hurtful. We brush away our missteps by blaming them on our own identity. “I can’t help it if you’re hurt by that; it’s just the way I am.”
“That’s just the way I am.” “That’s not me.” Well, that’s just arrogant.
Thinking this way smacks of faithless fatalism. It assumes a certain achievement and superiority in the status of “me” and “I am.” We are created from dust; we are clay. Only God can rightfully be described as “I AM”. The rest of us are becoming.
We ought never to be satisfied or limited with who we are. It should never remain the same for long. Yes, God did give us tendencies and personalities through our genetic code and our familial and cultural upbringing. But God also gives us grace to grow those in positive directions or overcome them. “Who I am” is much less relevant and meaningful than who I am becoming.
If you are a person who hides behind the mantle of “me” you are choosing conflict, disappointment, and frustration. You are risking alienation from those around you as you plant your flag in one place and they move on. You will be a stationary obstacle in their way as they travel on the path to who they are becoming.
Let “you” be a fluid concept in the hands of God. Have the humility to recognize needed changes and to appreciate outside input. Yes, God gave you tendencies and a personality. But God is I AM. You should become.
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