Friday, May 3, 2013

Being Jo

I LOVE to read.  It is one of my favorite things to do.  There are really few things I enjoy more than being engrossed in a good book.  I have read many, many books over the years but my all-time favorite novel is Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott.  I read it annually.

As with many good novels, there are several characters that depict different character traits.  Little Women is about the coming of age of four sisters, and without a doubt anyone reading the book will probably identify with one of the sisters.  Meg is pious and dignified, Jo is restless and eccentric, Beth is quiet and good, and Amy is spoilt and reserved.  I have always been, much to my chagrin, a Jo.  All throughout the book Jo never quite fits in.  She cannot accept being and acting the way she is “supposed” to, and instead always finds herself challenging the wind and constantly searching for the great things she will do with her life.  She is haphazard and lacks self-control, and her greatest example and confidant is her younger sister Beth, who is the embodiment of love and servanthood- something Jo is desperate to be more of.  

Every time I read the book, I find myself identifying much too strongly with Jo, all the while desiring to be more like Beth.  I have always been restless...always looking for mountains to climb, challenges to conquer and dragons to slay.  While this can be a good thing, it often times kept me from developing the gentler side of Christianity.  I lack mercy and love, peace and self-control.  I know these are things I want to develop, but I always had trouble seeing past “Jo” long enough to believe that I could change.

I think sometimes we get locked in to who we think we are, or who we have always been told we are.  We grow up and discover that we either type A or type B, fast or slow, extroverted or introverted, etc.  It’s ok to know a thing or two about yourself, but I don’t think it’s healthy to get locked in to “who you are”.  You hear a lot these days from teenagers and young adults- they want to go out and “find themselves”, and it drives me nuts the emphasis they place on who they are.  The truth is, you never find yourself- at least not permanently.

Life and personhood are transient things.  They are ever changing and ever evolving.  You may know who you are today, and tomorrow your world changes and you become someone else.  You find who you are at college, but then you graduate and you have to find out who the post-graduate you is.  Then you find out who that person is and you get married- now you need to find out who the married you is.  Then you have kids, and it’s a whole new you to discover.

Growing up I was always referred to as haphazard and scatter-brained (with good reason, lol).  Today, I am referred to as organized and prepared.  All the years I was branding myself as a hopeless Jo I was actually developing into a Beth.  We cannot get ourselves so locked in to who we think we are that we do not leave room for ourselves to grow and change.  Yes, God gives you certain gifting and characteristics- but He also beckons you to grow in Him and to allow Him to mould you and refine you.  

I am grateful that I am not chained to the person I thought I was, but that I am free to grow and change.  Don’t ever feel that you are forever bound to the person you always saw yourself as- or who you were always told you were.  Close your eyes and live your life, embracing the changes that you face.  Know that God is the Master of making the impossible possible- He is the ultimate Craftsman and Refiner.  Allow yourself to change.  Allow Him to move in your life and accept the beauty of the fact that you are not a finished work of art, but one that is being pained every day.

Be the ever changing, beautiful you.

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1 comment:

  1. I LOVE this post. One of my favorites by you. Forget personality tests, just read little women. ;)I love the truth that we are always finding out who we are and when we settle that in ourselves, it is so much easier to face life one step at a time.