Monday, April 22, 2013

From the Hundred Acre Wood

"Just be yourself," is what I'm often told by well intentioned friends.  Yet, typically, myself is not what they mean.  What they're really asking is that I be an extrovert, of which I am not.  It's like telling an Eeyore to be a bouncing Tigger, or a bubbly Pooh Bear.

When the Proverbs speak of "training your child in the way he should go", it means to direct them in the way God created them to be, not forcing the personality or bent of my own desire upon them.  (Prov. 22:6)  The whimsical storybook characters of the Hundred Acre Wood, representing various personality bents, illustrates this well.

'There's Rabbit and Piglet, and there's Owl, but most of all Winnie the Pooh...'  I'm sure you remember the catchy little song.  Eeyore is reflective and serious, but is followed by a cloud of gloom and prefers to be alone.  Rabbit works his tail off, but becomes so concerned over the task that he forgets people are more important than his project.  Piglet remains a loyal friend through thick and thin, but is timid.  Tigger is energetic and loads of fun, but not always sensitive to the feelings of others.  And I could go on to speak of Owl, Kanga, and Little Roo.

But of one thing there is no doubt.  Everyone adores Pooh Bear.

He is so loveable and friendly. . . the extrovert.   But what kind of story would it be if the characters were all the same?   The variety keeps the story captivating and develops the plot.  If the story held only the yellow bear, there would be no story.

I've been learning to follow in the way which God created me to be and rejoicing in that.  As a child I remember asking God to change my personality.  "Make me a bubbly person," I would pray.  Yet still I remained the shy introvert bound by fears--an Eeyore, Rabbit, Piglet combo.  I despised myself and wished over and over that I could pick a different me.

Finally, in exasperation, I cried out to the Lord admitting that I could not change.  He would have to do the changing in me.   It was while in junior high, that God began to give me victory over my weak areas, but I had to take risks and put in some effort.  I had to step out of my comfort zone by faith and believe that God would really come through for me.  He did.  My weakness was turned to strength.  It was then I realized that God makes us the way we are so that the power of Christ might be seen in us. (John 9:3)  Our weakness can be used for God's glory as he works in our lives for change.

However, these victories did not change the fact of how He made me in my bent.  I learned to be content with the strengths God gave me, even if it meant that I would never be a Tigger or a Pooh.  Yes, I can exhibit some of their qualities through God's transforming power, but its also okay to be who He made me to be because the world needs a few Eeyores and Rabbits.  I have something to contribute that is different than anyone else.

As a parent, I often have to remind myself to 'train up a child in the way he should go', rather than in the way that I want them to go.  I seek to know my children, to study them, and to learn what their niche might be.  I want them to find God's purpose for their lives and to walk in that.

When our children are driven to excel in every activity under the sun, what message are we communicating?  Is it really to benefit the child or is it for ourselves and our own status?  When our children are so busy they have no time to develop their spiritual lives, something is wrong.  We must ask ourselves, "Why do I have my child in this activity?  What is the purpose?"  As responsible parents we need to lead them in the way they should go, which is first and foremost, relationship with God.    

Each of the storytime characters mentioned above have weaknesses that go along with their strengths.  And in our lives, the challenge is to overcome our weaknesses and to realize that our strengths are okay, and in fact, good.  We don't have to possess the same strengths as the next guy because we are not the same.  This is for a reason:  to display God's image in a unique way all our own, and to work together as the body of Christ.  As Holley Gerth puts it, "We only get one you."  Don't be afraid to shine.

To know the way that we should go gives great clarity to our 'yes' and our 'no'.  This means that I do not volunteer for everyone who asks it of me.  I only do what I know God has led me into with the gifts He has given and the bent with which He has created me.  Does this mean I never stretch myself beyond what is comfortable for me?  No, far from it!  In fact, it is in the challenges, in the impossible dreams God has placed in my heart, that I cling even tighter to Him.  And it is also how I grow in my character toward a more rounded personality.

Furthermore, understanding that we each have a different bent, helps to resolve conflicts.  To see from another's perspective gives us greater compassion.  For example, Rabbit and Tigger can face the same challenge, but each responds differently. Yet, if Rabbit can see where Tigger is coming from and vice versa, then greater kindness can be displayed. 

One thing I do know, is that "each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various that in all things God may be praised."  (1 Pet. 4:10-11)  This is true for us but also for the children we seek to bring up.

Trusting this week will be a joyous adventure in your 'Hundred Acre Wood'.


  1. SO true. Thanks for sharing this. I was also shy was a child, and at times can still be shy. God has ways of growing us. So thankful we are all different! If we were all the same, how boring life would be!

  2. Well said! It's fun that you mentioned a quote from Holley Gerth. She and I spent a summer together while in college and I'm sure she would've enjoyed your thoughts today!

    1. Wow, I was not aware of that! I just finished reading her book, "You Were Made For a God-Sized Dream". Highly recommend it.