A few months ago, I stumbled across this quote by the avant-garde Icelandic singer Björk:
I am very stupid, I am intelligent. I’m clumsy, I’m a coward, I’m funny, I’m witty. I’m a five year old and I’m a sixty year old and I don’t want to let any of these things go.
Something about her words rang true to me. Of course, I’d change some of the words to more accurately reflect my quirks and strengths, and I’m guessing you would too… but you see what I mean, right?
I am, you are, we are complex.
There is never just a simple label, one-word descriptor, that can fully represent the complexity of who we are. Maybe it’s a personality thing, but I resist being crammed into a box. Whenever someone has “figured me out,” my soul smirks with delight over this wonderful little secret: that is barely a crumb of who I am.
It’s easy for me to hold this truth that I am complex. More difficult for me is remembering this truth when someone else is bothering me or disagreeing with me or just being stupid. Because everything in me wants to throw a label on them, give a one-word descriptor, and cram them into a box… but that would be intellectually dishonest of me and I know better.
Bishop Jake Owensby recently wrote a delightful piece about a young woman with Down Syndrome who opened her own baking business. In the article, he says:
To borrow a phrase from Annie Dillard, “What you see is what you get.” Dillard didn’t mean by this, “What is is.” Instead, she was saying that all of us need to learn to see, to really see what is right in front of us. Otherwise we will miss the subtle textures and delicate hues of which our world is composed. We will merely skim the surface of a reality that contains inexhaustible, intoxicating depths. We will see only what our eyes can glimpse through the portals of our narrow minds.
The apostle Paul urges us to broaden our view of the human world in which we are immersed.
Paul realized that the citizens of his world divided each other into Jew or Greek, slave or free, us or them. Friend or foe. Useful or useless.
We skim the surface of most other people. We make assumptions about them on the basis of their clothing or their speech patterns, the car they drive or the job they have. What we think we know about them is really not about them at all. We assess others according to their usefulness to us or their danger to us. Might they bring us pleasure or security or some advantage?
The Apostle Paul urges us to enter into the incomparable mystery that is each individual human being and he coaxes us to recognize the Spirit that inhabits each of us in an infinite variety of ways.
Just remember: I am, you are, we are complex.
Related post you might enjoy: The Danger of a Single Story