It's a classic 80s formula. Teen/kid decides his or her life is unsatisfactory, figures out that changing their personality would fix everything, makes the change, realizes that who they were was what's important. Everyone ends up happy. See Can't Buy Me Love, Lucas (to a certain extent), Ferris Bueller's Day Off (if you believe the theory that the whole thing happens in Cameron's head... look it up, it's trippy). It's a fairly well accepted and overused film convention. What's interesting, though, is that for as much as we understand that basic premise so many of us completely ignore it. In the desperate, scrambling search for value and acceptance that we're all on we constantly adapt who we are to gain approval.
I was thinking about this in church last week. The pastor, in perhaps the strongest moment of his sermon, said that the ways in which you pursue friends and community will define the ways that you pursue God. That floored me. I've been aware for a long time that I have a tendency to modify my personality to fit whatever group I'm around (to the thinkers i'm a thinker, to the cynics I'm a cynic, to the hipsters I'm a hipster) but I've never thought about the fact that I have done the same thing with God for the better part of my life. In my pursuit of the Almighty I have consistently been who I thought he wanted me to be when I interacted and not who I actually was. This seems ridiculous when considering that he made me and knows me better than anyone else no matter how I'm acting. But still... that's pretty much what I do.
Instead of just being the real, flawed, broken, messed up person I am I try to approach God wearing a lot of different hats. To varying degrees I try to act like a monk, saint, pastor, worship leader. It's exhausting, it's frustrating, and it essentially means that my relationship with God is based on a sham... a sham that I'm continually constructing and deconstructing. What's the point of that? What's the point in acting somber, penitent, etc. if I'm not really feeling that way at the time. I want to pursue God with integrity and a lot of times that means being honest about the fact that sometimes I don't feel like pursuing him at all because I'm human and, well, sinful. I knew a pastor once who used to say something along the lines of "Every other Monday I don't believe in God" That's alarming to hear a pastor say. But it's so honest. It so completely reveals the complexity of where he's at and where he's at with God. That's what I'm searching for. I'm trying to get to a place where, more than with anyone else, when I approach God I approach him as myself.