I recently submitted an article for consideration in a Christian Magazine. The submission guidelines advised to send a short bio telling them who I am. I started jotting down a few things and had more difficulty doing it than I thought I should. I first listed the things I thought were valuable such as accomplishments, degrees, experience, etc. As I was doing this I had to question, “Do these things really described who I am?” Are the awards on the wall or the accolades of admirers really the things that describe who we are?
In ancient Rome, friendship had a different meaning than it does today. People saw others as either above them in social status or below them in social status. Friendship was based upon how close that status was and whether both parties agreed upon the statuses. Status was everything. The higher ranked status would provide services or money to the lower ranks and the lower ranks would provide services to the upper ranks. Even the poor had service to offer for the money the wealthy would provide them. They would cry at their funeral. The more money given the louder they would cry.
This is so foreign to our culture it almost sounds funny but I have to think that we may not be all that different. We may have simply changed the roles a little. Rather than developing formal patron/client relationships, we informally set expectations on each other based upon our relationships. We rely on each other for social acceptance, support, and friendship. We develop these relationships on how much value we place on knowing the other person. The sad part about this is that knowing this, we end up accentuating the parts that make us more attractive and devaluing the parts that society deems less attractive. This creates almost an inbreeding of ideas and moves some valuable traits into oblivion.
How about we stop the cycle? We cannot do anything about how other people value us. But why should we change ourselves to fit the known models of attractiveness? I am not talking about refusal to change our appearance because we want to. I am talking about refusing to change our appearance because somebody else wants us to. But that is not as easy as it sounds because those lines blur quickly.
What makes us valuable is not what other people value. It is not even really what we think we value as we have been affected by our societies teachings. It is much deeper than that and it is what defines who we really are. To understand this, I offer the following questions.
- Do you think that the accomplishment of a goal is more valuable than the journey to get there?
- Does other people’s opinion shape your direction?
- Do you truly appreciate each breath you take as the gift it is?
- Do you see others as a means to an end or as partners on the way?
- Do you find joy in the experiences of each moment or does it take specific things to provide fulfillment? What are they?
- Are you willing to change your direction if the goal you seek is not what you thought?
- Does the definition of beauty come from what you feel or what you see?
- Is there room to grow?
There really isn’t a right or wrong answer to these questions. They are designed to reveal fundamental elements about character. Character is what truly defines us. Maybe before we do a physical makeover we should first consider a character makeover.
Every breath is a moment of life that cannot be repeated or restored. Every hour wasted on somebody else’s values is slavery for that hour. If we allow those things to cause us to act, we are no better than taking up space. You are better than that. We are better than that. We were given the most important and priceless gift in existence from God himself. We were given the freedom to choose.
We have value because of that. Our choices on how we use that create our character. The God of creation, who decided what color each leaf will change to and from, also built the framework inside of us that gives us the ability to define our likes and dislikes. Whether we are choosing a flavor of ice cream or whether we want to paint or write poetry, it is all because of his gift. Believing ourselves to be of so little value that we let other people choose for us misses the opportunity to understand the creator a little bit and also to let the world see our talents.
Write your own bio each day by choosing what you are each day. Make it show your true character so people can see the real you. Don’t hear the words of others and make them your own if they do not fit you. Make your voice the voice that represents you and not somebody else’s voice inside you. Let the creativity of character do what it was supposed to do and show the beauty and glory of God.