Sunday, February 25, 2007
What's Your Name?
Well, what do you want it to be?
If I remember right, these are lines from the movie,Pretty Woman when the two main characters first meet. It's transformation, Cinderella-love story where a hooker, living hand-to-mouth, enters the life of a millionaire one evening when he was "lost." Not only does he change her life, she changes him. And she doesn't change him into something he's not--she brings back the "real" him--the man who wants to build things, create things. Up until this point, he's been spending his whole career tearing things down in revenge because his father never recognized him for who he was, and tore him down. And she, who had been living a life that made her constantly pretend to be who she wasn't, would morph into "whatever" the fantasy of the person using her desired. She was dying in this lifestyle, but so was he.
This week one of my sons has been exploring who he is, and what kind of life's work he's been called to doing. He started off in an area that seemed perfect for him, but after two years he explained to my husband and me that he wants "to help people and work with people," not being alone doing his own thing as the path of the major he was in was leading him to be. So, we arranged for him to be tested and he'll talk to a career counselor. This counselor will in turn offer suggestions based on an interview and his answers to the over 500 questions on how he thinks, how he feels about circumstances, his real choices and what makes him joyful. He has to think about lifestyles and environments of work and how he would like them to be in his own life.
As we went through some of the questions, I couldn't help thinking that I wish I could've had this kind of assistance when I was his age. And also, I got to know my son in a deeper way than I ever have known him before, despite the fact that there were some questions I knew the answer to before he even voiced it. I thought I knew him better than anyone, but there were still things to be learned about him.
But despite age, and being in circumstances you don't think you can change, as long as you have breath and mind, you can adjust your lifestyle into who you really are. Don't let people try to mold you into what their image of you is; be transformed, renew your mind into what you were called and meant to be, despite your past. I think that is the true message in the movie, Pretty Woman. In this movie he asks her at the end--"What happened when he saves her?" She answers, "She saves him right back." They help each other to become better people. Their lives change for the good.
You might think it is too late, but you have to move forward right now from where you are. Be brave. Make one change. It could be in your volunteer work or it could be a career change,a lifestyle change or it could be changing where you live. The one thing it shouldn't be--changing and leaving people devastated and hurt in your quest. But don't be miserable or contribute unhappiness to people in your life because you didn't get to play guitar as a kid, or you couldn't take art classes. Eliminate the "drains" in your life. And then, find one thing that feeds your soul so you can give back to the people in your life. Pretty Woman character Vivian does this--she talks to her roommate and fellow hooker and builds her up, gives her a "scholarship" in life to make positive changes.
I am a Christian. In the Bible there is a verse that is based in Jewish culture that says, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it." (Proverbs 22:6) This proverb has been interpreted a lot of ways by my fellow Believers in raising children, and by the Jewish people, too, but I think it's not only about your spiritual life--but your entire lifestyle. People have a way of separating their job-life from their spiritual life. After all, where I live, you are not supposed to mix "church and state." I say this is fundamentally impossible to do, because eventually one or the other system will collapse. It is core to your value system. What you train up your child into is your value system. I'm not saying that you have to wear your spiritual life on your sleeve or subject people to it in an aggressive manner--I'm saying it's not like fashions you put on or take off according to the occasion--it is a part of who you are, your fabric of your life, your DNA, despite the window dressings, your culture.
So, my son was answering these questions and it tells a story about him. He is like this not because I raised him this way, because he has three brothers who are distinctly different from him, and we raised those boys the same way. But all four boys have the same value system. We also raised each one in the way they should go by offering them experiences in their strengths or preferences. He is a certain way, a certain temperament. He can "pretend" he is something else by participating in an activity because someone pressures him to do it. He can even live his life a way differently from who is he, but until he is doing things in the way of his temperament, he will either collapse, or he will become ill, or be very unhappy. Training him up in the way that he should go involves more than discovering his spiritual gifts and how he fits into the family of God, giving him his value system--it also involves what he should be doing in his life's work and how he should be spending his days, his life.
Eventually the lifestyle that comes with the job is going to cause a collapse if it is not "you." Either physically, mentally or spiritually something will collapse, if your temperament isn't jiving with the way you are spending your time.
So, what is your temperament? Where do you want to be this time next year?