Sunday, May 5, 2013

What Roles Are You Playing?

“What’s up Mr. Kerr.”

I often hear this when I’m out and about in town.  I was at Target recently, getting toilet paper (of course), and a group of kids yelled it out as I was passing by.  Just - awkward.

“Hey” I mumbled back.  Toilet paper...haha

This got me thinking about all the different roles we play in life.

I have a really good friend that’s a barista at Starbucks.  She told me that when regulars see her out in public (outside of the context of Starbucks), they act surprised.  It’s as if she’s not supposed to have a life of her own.

I recently experienced this with a girl I see everyday at my usual coffee spot - Am/Pm (don’t judge!)  Almost every day I go walking at park, and a few weeks ago, I saw her walking too.  We said that awkward “hi” - but my mind had a hard time seeing her outside of her working role.  She wasn’t supposed to be walking in a park! 

When we wear those identities (barista, teacher, etc.) we often don’t act the same way as we would in our regular everyday life.  We play actual roles in life.

I talked to a friend that works at a Jack in the Box - he mentioned the same thing.  “I say hello to the costumer as soon as he walks in the door.  Always say thank you at the drive through window.  Wear the outfit.”  We are ourselves - but with that added role.  It’s as if we’re almost acting when we become “that” person.

This gets really screwy when we begin to understand that our parents played the role of “parent” in our life.  For whatever reason, we have the expectation that our parents are supposed to be perfect.  We wake up to life with the idea that they have always existed.  Of course, there’s exceptions to this - but many people have a hard time seeing their parents as actual people.  Many times, moms and dads are just like we are - people trying to figure out life like everyone else.  They just have the benefit of life experience on their side.  They have some good wisdom as well as some destructive habits they pass onto us - but - for the most part, they are normal - even regular - people.  They were kids too - with their own parents.  They skinned their knee, were yelled at, cried, - etc.  People.

Our perceptions of our parent’s (what they should be vs. who they truly are) can really mess us up.

Taking it a bit further...the scandalous gospel.  Jesus was a person.  We put Him in the role of God (which He is) and Lord - or King (which He is) - BUT - He was also a person.

There’s two stories in the scriptures where He seemed a bit impatient with His mom (when He was twelve and when He turned water into wine).  Jesus had a mom - like us.  Have you ever rolled your eyes at your mom?  Jesus can relate.  

Jesus looked at the night sky - with all the stars (as He created them) with human eyes like us - a canvas of black velvet with a million pinholes of light peeking through.  Jesus sneezed.  He probably skinned His knee.  He most likely peed in the woods.  He went through puberty.  And on and on and on.

In one instance - He tells His disciples, “I no longer call you servants, but friends.” John 15:15  Jesus (God) had friends.  Actual friends.  Real people.  (And He extends that friendship to us - which is a crazy thought).

There’s a bit of an impersonal-ness when we live in our “roles”.  When I “play” the role of teacher, there’s a barrier to real friendship.  There’s some really good boundaries for that - don’t get me wrong (especially when working with youth), but the same goes for a barista, or a waiter, or whomever.  Roles keep others from our authentic selves. ***

To many, God is an impersonal force.  He just plays a role - and a scary one at that (after-all, He does hold our fate in His hands - which can be a bit nerve racking).  But keeping Him in His “role” also keeps Him at a distance.  And our authentic self never seems to find that intimacy that we’re all really looking for.  

The role of God as an impersonal force breaking into the human story...

“God - a person?  He can’t do that!”  

And yet - that’s exactly what He did.  God came to challenge our assumptions in the person of Jesus Christ.  

What are some negative perceptions that you hold about God?  Do they match up with the Great Story - found in the scriptures?  What role does God play in your life?  What are ways you keep Him at arms length?  What if this “relationship” is supposed to be different than we perceive?  What does a relationship with God actually look like?

Good questions to consider...

Have a great day!


*** “roles keeps others from our authentic selves.”  I’ve met many men and women (pastors, youth workers, missionaries, etc.) that play the role of a “spiritual leader.”  This can create an inner tension that can eventually explode, if a person isn’t careful.  I’ve known many “leaders” within the church that only learn how to be authentic to the “wrong” person - and that leads them to all sorts of craziness (affairs, leaving their faith, etc.).  When the fit hits the shan / all hell breaks loose (when the facade finally crumbles) - everyone around asks, “How did this happen?”  Well - this might be a bit simplistic, but  - the person was in the “role” of spiritual leader and people keep reinforcing that “role” when they screwed up.  The “role” they played became a prison - a bit of hell on earth.  When a person steps outside of the bounds of their “role”, people’s expectations are bashed - and a real hurting person often gets condemned by those that are supposed to love them.  Sadly - this happens more often than I’d like to admit.  

And this doesn’t just go for spiritual leaders.  Parents too.  Parents are supposed to be good.  But - many are not.  It’s difficult to love someone when our expectation of them is constantly disappointed.  BUT - that’s not THEIR fault - it’s ours.  Our expectation of a perfect - or even good - parent is often unrealistic.  They’re only human afterall.  (This could be a topic for an entire different blog).

It's hard to love God when He's just "playing a role" in our life.  He'll never be authentic if we keep putting Him in that box.  

So - how does one change this kind of thinking?