Father

When I was still a little boy, I tried to copy my father’s identity into me. He’s an introvert, preferring to be on his own most of the time, I’m born introverted too, so being close-mouthed is not a difficult feat for me. I surveyed his TV regime composed mostly of documentaries which also connects to my curiosity. Copying him is easy, I said.

But some of his behaviors proves challenging for me: his style of clothing (repetitive) and his weird selection of old songs (who’s Frank Sinatra?). I have this feeble idea that a son must be exactly like his father, so I tried hard, injecting his personality into me.

But in the end, I gave up. Maybe we’re alike in some ways but I can’t fully be him. I looked at other children and they don’t have this inclination to be like their parent, I accepted that I won’t be fully like him and looked for other models that would inspire me.

Kira Yamato

It didn’t take long for me to find other models. On my elementary and highschool days, Japanese fictions (my term for anime) invaded my consciousness. I immediately fell in love with the Japanese philosophy richly embedded in them. In addition, anime are not bound by rules of reality so there are extremeness in portrayal of belief in every episode.

The characters have those special abilities that they can use to pursue worthy ideals, mostly in sync with Japanese’s way of thinking, which are idealistic and full of vigor, like saving the world, be the best tennis player, or enduring till the end for the sake of beloved friends.

Anime like Naruto, Gundam Wing, and Gundam Seed features a protagonist that will defy all odds in order to pursue his ideals. I picked the cool introverts: Heero Yuy, Kira Yamato, Sasuke Uchiha, and selected their best traits, and tried to install them into me. I know it’s weird, but as a child with hyperactive imagination, I find it more enticing and fitting to imitate the heroic attributes of Japanese characters than the self-serving attitudes of local teen stars.
Philip Yancey

Then I entered college, and met other people that I came to admire. I’ve found them in the pages of books, they are John Maxwell, Zig Ziglar, and Philip Yancey. As I read their words, I’m immediately amazed at their maturity and no-trash-talk wisdom. As a typical smug teenager back then, I thought I knew everything and I need no advice on how to run my life. Boy, how stupid I am to arrive at that point! Without their input, I can’t imagine where my stupidity would led me.

I became fascinated to quotations, every wise quote is worth ten pesos for me (now, I believe it’s worth more than money, just like Solomon has said in Proverbs). I memorized most of what I’ve read and share them to others. I don’t have a clue on what they are thinking of me, whether I sound like a conceited boy who thinks he’s wiser than others (no, I’m not), but I love sharing tidbits of wisdom and I’m not planning to stop.

I’m 18 years old back then, too innocent about life. But day after day passed, I learned gradually about the different aspects of life. I became a certified book nut, eliminated other time getters like video games, over sleeping, gossip, and plain idleness to spend reading and thinking.

But still, I haven’t found myself. Still a copycat.

Andy and Clive

On my internship days, my supervisor conducts a weekly Bible study inside the company, held every Thursday at 12:00 pm. We would watch a recorded video preaching of a young-looking American pastor named Andy Stanley. At first, I find him a little too fast in speaking, but then something clicks in me, what he is saying makes sense, his ideas are simple and sticky.

I once have this faulty preconception that all Christian preaching were faithfully engineered to bore the children of God (to teach them patience and ‘faithfulness’?), scare away unbelievers, and push you to be nerdy enough to study some deep theology to get any hope of understanding them.

But Andy is different, he is more like a motivational speaker who enjoys sharing God’s truth, not a boring preacher who treats preaching like a job and unconsciously makes Bible study like a formal class of advanced economics. He has this nurtured talent in communicating Christian principles in a way that they became memorable and applicable.

Also on that same year, I met one of the most remarkable Christian for me – C.S. Lewis. I’ve found him in the pages of must-read books like Mere Christianity, Chronicles of Narnia, The Screwtape Letters, and The Problem of Pain.

Clive Staples Lewis was a former atheist who struggled on the deep and disturbing questions of the faith. But with the help of his friend J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings, and his other colleagues, he finally realized that the overall Christian perspective about our existence is the most compelling among other religions and philosophies.

He was converted to Christianity and became a powerful defender of the faith. Some said that he’s the Christian that affirmed that it’s okay to be a Christian and possess a thinking brain. He’s an apologist that is gifted with a mind almost equals to angels.

Still having the copy-into-me disease, I tried hard to imitate them. I consumed their biographies, read about their influencers, find the books that they read, hoping that in doing so, I can be like them, as good as Andy Stanley in communication and as smart as C.S. Lewis in way of thinking.

I tried my best. But I still end up as a 71st class of them (or maybe farther). I exhaled lots of disappointments and admitted that I don’t have a clue if I would reach the same level as them.

Then the realization struck me like lightning. How can I not see it before? I don’t have to be a second class Andy Stanley or C.S. Lewis, I’m not shaped by the Designer to be their imitation, because I’m destined to be the first class me.

Even I eat all the foods they ate, attended the school they attended, read all the books they read, or use their body soap and shampoo, I’ll never be like them. This is a complete eye-opener and it liberated me to discover my own wings.

Me

Since then, instead of trying to be someone else, I tried to uncover myself buried in the second class images of Andy Stanley, C.S. Lewis, and Kira Yamato. I found my real self, unsecure and afraid to be seen completely by others. I wrote my weaknesses I’m hiding from the veil of my pride and fears. It’s one of the most dreading experience I ever had, but I know that knowing the truth about myself, whether good or bad, is the first step to finding my real identity.

I started embracing my innate nature which is introverted and reflective, instead of trying to be a fake free-spirited guy. I acknowledged my core strengths: empathy, belief, ideation, focus, communication, and maximizer (this is based on the StrengthsFinders 2.0 test), and use them in every opportunity to add value to others. I followed what Andy Stanley said, to focus eighty percent of my time and resources nurturing my strengths rather than killing myself in remedying my innate weaknesses.

Eventually, I discovered what really makes me tick - sharing ideas. Speaking and writing, whenever I’m doing these two, time seems to fade away, I became fully captivated in these activities and always looking forward to do them again. I have no doubt that I can dedicate my life to the mastery of these activities. This passion is a gift from God and I need to capitalize on them to add value to others. I’m hoping that this very blog helps you in some way.

That’s the reason why I’m so hooked up to Andy Stanley and C.S. Lewis, they are the models for me in the life field that I want to engage to. Andy Stanley is one of the finest speaker alive. C.S. Lewis, well, he’s simply the best enlightener of Christianity to millions of doubters, and he’s an apostle to the skeptics.

Every morning, I look into the mirror and affirm that the call to be myself is a gift that I need to unwrap every day. I’m designed to be this way, and God is most happy for me when I’m filling the unique role He has prepared for me.

I’m on my early twenties now and I don’t want to be fake anymore. I’m letting myself to be me. This is me and I am going to live to the full. Everyday.

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