“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed (Psalm 139:13-16).”
Yesterday I had an epiphany.
I was looking over some personality test material I had given my students to do earlier in the week. I figured this was as good a time as any to check up on myself, too.
I have done done a lot of analysis of my skills and abilities, passions, values and yes, personality traits the last few years. The purpose (with a nod to career coach Dan Miller) has been to determine what kind of work I would most love to do.
As I’ll be switching jobs in a few month, I thought it relevant to give myself a check up. Not to mention also that for a teacher it doesn’t hurt to do the material you pass out to your students. Doing so gives you some kind of feel for what they will be doing for you.
As I looked over the quadrants showing the personality dimensions most applicable to me, something stood out I had never noticed before. The action plans for the two personality dimensions I straddle say that, to be more effective, I need to:
*validate self worth
* respect people’s worth as much as their accomplishments.
The recovery programs based on Alcoholics Anonymous tell you that you should do a ruthless moral inventory. Somehow this week I have been doing a lot of that and not particularly liking what I see. I haven’t felt very good about myself as a result.
It has been pretty anguishing to review my character defects. I have come to some realization of how this man has made some major mistakes in terms of being a husband, father and work colleague.
Of late my sins have come back to bite me. I think the author of Galatians was spot on when he wrote, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked, for whatever a man shows he shall also reap (Galatians 6:7).”
(Of course, he would be on target whether this truth was part of my experience or not. After all, he is writing the inspired Word of God!)
As I have been immersing myself in my “Life Recovery Bible” this year, I have tended to focus on the first four of the twelve steps. They involve admitting that you have an unmanageable life and turning it over to God. Step four is the one involving the moral inventory.
Now, working on my character isn’t new to me. I’ve been at it my whole life, having become a Christian as a teenager. The problem is that I seem to be struggling with the same old stuff decades later. It’s pretty discouraging.
I just watched an episode of the TV medical drama “House” in which a marriage seminar leader suddenly has health problems on stage and goes under the care of Dr. House and his team. Part of the treatment is giving the leader, a fellow named Joe, testosterone.
It seems Joe was kicked in the groin a few times a few years before during a bar fight. This lowered his testosterone significantly.
As the low testoerone fits into the medical mix, the doctors treat Joe with testerone shots. As he continues with the treatment, Joe begins to revert back the pre-fight version of himself.
Before the kicks in the groin, Joe was a corporate coach. He was cutthroat and ruthless.
However, after the bar fight, Joe became a sensitive man. He moved from corporate coaching to trying to help men relate better to women.
In the process he attracted a mate who liked this version of Joe. His wife Marlene is horrified as she watches him revert to the brute he used to be.
The source of Joe’s condition is finally determined and the continued use of testosterone treatments advocated. Joe, despite warnings from one of House’s doctors that a low testosterone level poses major health problems, declines having them administered anymore.
Joe decides that the lower testosterone will keep his marriage intact. Besides, he tells the doctor, he is a better man without them.
Frankly, I think the whole storyline is pretty absurd and was probably meant to be when it was written. In reality, all men will tell you a kick in the groin is no laughing matter.
For example, I just read a story in the news in which a woman grabbed a man with whom she was in an argument over a parking space in the man’s most vulnerable spot. The man died as a result.
It doesn’t surprise me that a TV show or even real people for that matter would suggest that someone like Joe stay in a less-than-male state. In this day and age men are under assault, and for good reason, as we don’t exactly have a good track record when it comes to relating to women, or anyone else for that matter.
However, the Bible seems to say that chemical or physical acts don’t make for real change. Indeed, there were people back in New Testament days that said that if you were going to be a real Christian, you needed an operation that affected the same area where Joe was injured.
It was said that if you were going to be a true believer, you had to follow the old way of circumcision. However, the author of Galatians, in the same chapter in which he reminded that we reap what we sow, said that this procedure did nothing to produce real change in a person’s condition. He wrote:
“Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation (Galations 6:15).”
As I contemplated my own condition yesterday I went on to look more closely at steps six and seven of the 12 steps in my “Life Recovery” Bible” . These items move on from the moral inventory to tell me that I should be willing to have God remove my defects of character and also ask Him to do it.
I can’t stay stuck at the “ruthless moral inventory”. All this does is to produce depression and no real healing.
The truth is that God thinks pretty highly of me despite my sins. This realization yesterday shocked me, and also helped me to understand that I do not have to stay stuck in self-hatred.
In fact, to do so will continue to affect my relationships negatively. How can I possibly honor and value other people when I can’t even stand myself?
He made me and has even written a book in which I am the main character. As an always aspiring author, this just blows my mind.
My epiphany was that God sees me as hugely valuable to Him. It was also that He has the same view of my wife, kids, friends, acquaintances, colleagues and every one else I come into contact with.
This illuminating discovery changes everything. I see myself and others quite differently today, and want to see this insight from God translated into my character.