做最好的自己──BE THE BEST “YOU” THAT YOU CAN BE

By Jim Mathis

上週在一個當地作家小組的月會中,一位成員說她還沒上小學之前,她媽媽訂閱了一個兒童讀書俱樂部的月刊。這些月刊啟發了她閱讀的愛,以及對書籍的熱情,最終促使她成為作家。她相信在死亡之前,確實有方法能活出最終被上帝按「讚」的生命。

身為一個自稱的文字大師,她說她很喜歡童書作家蘇斯博士(Dr. Seuss)那些引人入勝、字字珠璣的書。其中一本書這樣寫著:「今天你就是你!這比真實更真實!沒有人比你更像你!」這句話讓我想起了自己最喜歡的歌手巴布‧狄倫(Bob Dylan)的一首歌。狄倫在<瑪姬的農場>(Maggie's Farm) 這首歌裡宣佈自己脫離民謠獨立出來:「我盡己所能活得像自己,但所有人都希望我像他們一樣。」

你是否有時會發現,即使你認為自己已經表現出最好的自己,其他人卻希望你成為其他人,多數時候是像他們自己一樣?我最近聽某人說我們生命中最重要的兩天就是我們出生的那天,以及我們明白自己為何出生的那天。可悲的是,我們大多數人都花了很多時間試圖成為別人期待中的人,以至於我們很少明白自己是誰,或者為什麼我們是自己。

聖經提到了我們的獨特性,就是上帝設計我們每一個人的方式:「我的肺腑是你所造的;我在母腹中,你已覆庇我。我要稱謝你,因我受造,奇妙可畏;你的作為奇妙,這是我心深知道的。……你所定的日子,我尚未度一日(或譯:我被造的肢體尚未有其一),你都寫在你的冊上了。」(詩篇139篇13-16節

上面的經文說到上帝對每個人都有一個特別的計劃,祂不僅賜予每一位孩子不同的外在生理,祂也給我們獨特的才能、興趣、能力和屬靈恩賜。在工作、家庭和社區中,人們試著強迫我們滿足他們對我們的期望,但聖經勸告我們,「不要效法這個世界,只要心意更新而變化,叫你們察驗何為 神的善良、純全、可喜悅的旨意。」(羅馬書122

上帝希望我們活出、成為祂預定的樣式,而不是我們周圍的人和環境可能試圖影響我們成為的樣子。使徒保羅寫信給他年輕的門徒提摩太,鼓勵他說:「你當竭力在 神面前得蒙喜悅,作無愧的工人,按著正意分解真理的道。」(提摩太後書2章15節 。雖然我們大多數人都沒有被呼召做全職同工,但我們仍然被要求了解上帝的真理,並應用在我們生活的每一個方面。

我們被放在這個世界是為了帶來改變,如果我們和其他人沒有甚麼不同,只想符合別人的期待,很難有不一樣的作為。我建議你就是做你自己,成為上帝計畫中的你。也許世界上的人不認為這有多偉大,你可能也不會得到認同或表揚。很少人如此。但無論大小,我們都有一個神給予我們的人生目的,我們也不要低估自己能產生的影響力。你的人生目的就是成為最好的自己!

Jim Mathis是美國堪薩斯州歐弗蘭帕克攝影工作室的老闆,專門從事商業和戲劇肖像攝影,並經營著一所攝影學校。 他以前是密蘇里州堪薩斯城咖啡店的經理和CBMC的執行理事。

反省與問題討論

蘇斯博士(Dr. Seuss)的書說:「今天你就是你!這比真實更真實!」如果有人問:「你是誰?」你會怎麼回答? 巴布‧狄倫的一首歌說:「我盡己所能活得像自己,但所有人都希望我像他們一樣。」你是否覺得別人常常希望你能符合他們想要的模樣,而不是欣賞你的獨特性?如果是這樣,你的反應是什麼?這仍然在你的生活中發生嗎? 你對聖經宣告說我們每一個人都被神造得「奇妙可畏」有什麼想法?對你來說,這句話是什麼意思? 當你讀到本文說:「我們都應該試著改變周圍的世界」時,你會想到什麼?這是我們應該有意識實現的目標,還是你認為這應該是在日常生活中自然發生的?請解釋你的答案。

備註:如果你手上有聖經,希望閱讀更多關於這個主題相關的訊息,請參考以下的經文:

哥林多前書3章9節

3:9因為我們是與 神同工的;你們是 神所耕種的田地,所建造的房屋。

哥林多前書3章16-17節

3:16豈不知你們是 神的殿, 神的靈住在你們裏頭嗎?

3:17若有人毀壞 神的殿, 神必要毀壞那人;因為 神的殿是聖的,這殿就是你們。

腓立比書3章7-14節

3:7 只是我先前以為與我有益的,我現在因基督都當作有損的。

3:8 不但如此,我也將萬事當作有損的,因我以認識我主基督耶穌為至寶。我為他已經丟棄萬事,看作糞土,為要得著基督;

3:9 並且得以在他裏面,不是有自己因律法而得的義,乃是有信基督的義,就是因信 神而來的義,3:10 使我認識基督,曉得他復活的大能,並且曉得和他一同受苦,效法他的死,

3:11 或者我也得以從死裏復活。

3:12 這不是說我已經得著了,已經完全了;我乃是竭力追求,或者可以得著基督耶穌所以得著我的(所以得著我的:或譯所要我得的)。

3:13 弟兄們,我不是以為自己已經得著了;我只有一件事,就是忘記背後,努力面前的,

3:14 向著標竿直跑,要得 神在基督耶穌裏從上面召我來得的獎賞。

帖撒羅尼迦後書1章11-12節

1:11 因此,我們常為你們禱告,願我們的 神看你們配得過所蒙的召,又用大能成就你們一切所羨慕的良善和一切因信心所做的工夫,

1:12 叫我們主耶穌的名在你們身上得榮耀,你們也在他身上得榮耀,都照著我們的 神並主耶穌基督的恩。

彼得前書1章3-8節

1:3 願頌讚歸與我們主耶穌基督的父 神!他曾照自己的大憐憫,藉耶穌基督從死裏復活,重生了我們,叫我們有活潑的盼望,1:4 可以得著不能朽壞、不能玷污、不能衰殘、為你們存留在天上的基業。

1:5 你們這因信蒙 神能力保守的人,必能得著所預備、到末世要顯現的救恩。

1:6 因此,你們是大有喜樂;但如今,在百般的試煉中暫時憂愁,

1:7 叫你們的信心既被試驗,就比那被火試驗仍然能壞的金子更顯寶貴,可以在耶穌基督顯現的時候得著稱讚、榮耀、尊貴。

1:8 你們雖然沒有見過他,卻是愛他;如今雖不得看見,卻因信他就有說不出來、滿有榮光的大喜樂;

BE THE BEST “YOU” THAT YOU CAN BE

By Jim Mathis

At the monthly meeting last week of a local writers” group, one member said when she was a preschooler, her mother subscribed to a children's book club. Those monthly books led her to a love of reading, a passion for books, and eventually a career as a writer. She believes that there really is life BEFORE death, in living it in such a way that God will hit His "Like" at the end of your life.

As a self-declared wordsmith, she said she loves the engaging, cleverly worded books by children”s book author Dr. Seuss. In one of them he wrote, "Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!" That reminds me of one of my favorite Bob Dylan songs. In declaring his independence from the folk music scene called "Maggie's Farm," Dylan sang, "I try my best to be just like I am, but everybody wants me to be like them."

Do you sometimes find that even if you can succeed at being the best YOU there is, it seems everybody wants you to be somebody else, mainly like them? I recently heard somebody say that the two most important days of our lives are the day we were born – and the day we figure out why. Sadly, most of us spend so much time trying to be what everybody else wants us to be that we seldom figure out who we are – or why we are like that.

The Bible speaks to our uniqueness, the way God has designed each one of us: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother”s womb, I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well…. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:13-16).

This suggests God has a special plan for every one individually, not only our physical makeup but also our talents, interests, abilities and spiritual gifts He provides for each of His children. Living in an environment – at work as well as in our homes and communities – where people try to force us to fit their expectations of us, the Scriptures admonish us, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approved what God”s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

He wants us to be and to become what He intended for us to be, not what people and circumstances around us might try to influence us to be. Writing to his young protégé, the apostle Paul encouraged him, Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). While most of us are not called to vocational ministry, we are still instructed to know the Word of God and apply it in every area of our lives.

We were put here to make a difference in our world; it is hard to make a difference when we are all the same, conforming to what others say we should be or what we should be doing. For this reason, I would suggest that you be you – be the person God has intended for you to be from the moment you were born. It might not be something that the world considers great. You may not receive recognition or praise. Few people do. But we all have a God-given purpose, whether it is large or small; the impact we can have should not be underestimated. At the very least, your purpose is be to become the best you that you can be!

Jim Mathis is the owner of a photography studio in Overland Park, Kansas, specializing in executive, commercial and theatrical portraits, and operates a school of photography. He formerly was a coffee shop manager and executive director of CBMC in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri.

Reflection/Discussion Questions

Thinking of the words quoted from acclaimed author Dr. Seuss, “Today you are you. That is truer than true.” If someone were to ask, “Who are you?” how would you respond? Now look at the other quote, from one of Bob Dylan”s songs. In it he said, "I try my best to be just like I am, but everybody wants me to be like them." Have you ever felt that way, that instead of appreciating your uniqueness, other people are trying to make you conform into what they want you to be? If so, what has been your reaction? Is that still happening in your life? What are your thoughts about the Bible”s declaration that we each are “fearfully and wonderfully made” by God? In your mind, what does that mean? When you read that we should each try to make a difference in the world around us, what comes to your mind? Is that something we should aim to accomplish intentionally, or do you think it is something that should occur naturally as we go about the process of everyday life? Explain your answer.

NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: 1 Corinthians 3:9, 16-17; Philippians 3:7-14; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12; 2 Peter 1:3-8

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