Thursday, February 18, 2016

"That's just the way I am"

I got this piece by Michael Josephson of Character Counts from a friend over 3 years ago. Recently, while clearing our clutter, I saw it and it clicked...in a different way (pictures mine)...


"That's just the way I am." When we hear this, someone's usually telling us to "Get off my back" or "Accept me as I am." Often it's a response to us criticizing them. It could be about the person's chronic lateness, thoughtlessness, broken promises, physical or verbal abuse, or infidelity. Whatever it is, we're asked to let it go.

In the end, this is a ploy to get us to lower our expectations, based on the dubious idea that bad habits are an intrinsic part of character, and therefore beyond our control. We're expected to believe it's foolish and futile to expect others to change.

Lots of things, of course, are beyond our control: short stature, big bones, receding hairline. Fortunately, character is different. That's completely within our control. The poor and the rich, the slow and the smart, the plain and the pretty all have an equal opportunity to become people of character.

Sure, character can be influenced by heredity and environment, but it's determined by choice. No disposition, circumstance, or experience is so powerful that it forever fixes our character. Our character is never finished. It's constantly shaped and sculpted by the choices we make to nurture or ignore our more noble instincts and to surrender to, or overcome, negative impulses and corrupting temptations.

When it comes to what we demand of ourselves or others, we should never lower our standards. Character is a function of choice.

Yes it's a choice. Hence, weaknesses and bad habits are not excuses for not becoming a better person. For instance, "Everyone else is doing it" is definitely not an excuse or reason not to do the right thing. "That's just the way I am" may be how we were...when we become Christians we must change - actually improve in character and carriage and become like Jesus. For His Light* in you to truly shine brightly in & through you, your character must be right.


Reference:
*John 12:36 -  As you have the light, believe in the light. Then the light will be within you, and shining through your lives. You’ll be children of light.” (MSG)

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