Multifaceted Personalities

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My wife, Marcy, likes stickers. She has flair that way and our Christmas tree is decorated underneath with a host of exquisitely and creatively wrapped packages. On a note of less warmth, research is about details, websites, search protocols, notes, and bibliographies. How do I keep track of it all? Following the advice of a couple of books on research I headed to the stationary store to purchase the 4×6 cards, file folders, 3 ring binders, a research diary and other items needed to build a state of the art information management system. I had it all together when I spied a sheet of stickers of Christmas tree decorations of all colors. I threw it in the pile. At the counter I explained breezily that I was building this information management system and this was the stuff I needed according to the books I read, at which point, the clerk held up the sheet of Christmas stickers with a mock questioning look on his face as if to say, “Really, do you want to ‘stick’ with that story? Did they really recommend the Christmas stickers?”

We are multiple persons all the time. We try to be business-like at business but if we have a child at home, sick, we carry a concern to work. I’m a pastor and a teacher, but also a husband and I love being a husband. The encroachment of identities is less like dandelions surreptitiously sneaking into a lawn, than it is like sugar added to tea, or whipped cream added to hot chocolate. John Dunne said, “No man is an island.” While true of relationships it is also true of our personal makeup. There are different parts that give each life a unique harmony of sound and rhythm.

I like all kinds of music, including classical. Sometime ago I attended a concert of the Jerusalem Quartet – four young men playing music of emotion that will make my point. In the middle of a piece the cellist lost a string. They all immediately stopped and he disappeared to install another string and tune his instrument. Good music needs multiple strings, because good music has layers. There are probably 4 or 5 essential strings to most people’s lives, maybe more. The Jerusalem Quartet was smart enough not to try to “play on” with a string missing – try to cover it, avoid it, get through it. They stopped and replaced the string. Am I smart enough to stop and replace, repair, renew? And if I stop, will those around me wait? We waited and were rewarded with Ravel’s String Quartet in F, and the tear-rending Adagio by Barber.

Before the Lord we are His children, His body, His fellow laborers, and His friends. Such a life, such a relationship, has depth. It is interesting. It has capacity. Before the disciples were called by Jesus they were seen as one-dimensional by some. They had already been passed over as prime students for the Jewish religious system. Some referred to them as ‘ignorant and unlearned.’ But Jesus saw men who had capacity, and that capacity could grow, so he said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19).

Am I ignoring a dimension or capacity in my life? Are you?

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