Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

"Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so 
guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated unto
 you; and then use us, we pray you, as you will, and always 
to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord
 and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen."

--"A Prayer of Self-Dedication," The Book of Common Prayer, p. 832, in contemporary language

I have a strange little spiritual exercise for you.

If you have a few minutes to goof off, just for fun, run over to this site and create yourself as a South Park cartoon character. Then just spend a few minutes thinking about what you've just created. Chances are, you've created a version of how you secretly desire others sort of see you, in a relatively positive way. Or perhaps you've created your alter ego. Or perhaps you've created the person you sort of wish others saw. Or perhaps you're in a really foul mood and created the person you don't like that lives within yourself. Many options exist in this exercise.

My character is above. When I look at it, I see casual, relatively relaxed, and maybe just a little impish, and color and boldness in the color choices. But what is very clear is that it is not me, but a projection of me--the me I hope I come off as that makes others feel relaxed and comfortable.

But truthfully, it's probably not even close to the cartoon characters others have created of me--and frankly, we really can't control how others feel about the cartoon characters of us that others have created, nor can anything we do dispel their beliefs.

I remember listening to Bill Clinton be interviewed on C-Span about "how people play politics," a few years back. He talked about a very successful political strategy that the Republicans used on Democrats during the Bush era. (Now, truthfully I imagine this cuts both ways to some degree, but it was HIS interview, not mine.) I'm paraphrasing here, but he basically said, "The Republicans take the things they think the voters would not like about us as an opponent, and create this evil cartoon character out of them, and they keep putting us as cartoon characters out for the public to see, and let the people attack IT. Well, of course! No one would want to vote for that evil cartoon character! Anyone can see that's a bad person! So we find ourselves stuck because we can only present ourselves, and there is nothing we, ourselves, can do to attack that evil cartoon character of ourselves that is authentic--because the people have already believed in that evil cartoon."

When you think about it, even on our best days we do that to other people. We look at people, we claim to "know" them, and in our minds we have created either a basically "good" cartoon character, or an "bad" one--or maybe we just don't even HAVE a cartoon formulated of them. They are just background people in a South Park episode.

Nor can we force other people to see "our" cartoon. We might be lucky enough for them to see us on a good day and their overall impression is that of a good cartoon. They might catch us on a bad day and their initial impression is of that "not very nice" cartoon character. They might hook up with those who feel we've hurt them or slighted them, and their "non-character" starts to morph into an evil cartoon character of ourselves. Or perhaps they see us in another venue and their cartoon of us morphs into a more positive frame, or the backdrop in which they recognize us changes. But it still boils down to the fact that this rendition is out of our control. There is always a kernel of truth in both the angelic cartoon character others create of us, and in the evil one.

The only thing we have the ability to do--the ONLY thing--is to try to simply present ourselves as we really are--warts and all. At first glance, that doesn't sound like a great idea. We want to present ourselves in a positive light. We want people to have a good impression of us. But the fact of the matter is, doing that creates expectations. Expectations that our interactions are supposed to be a certain way, and when each of us do not appear "in character," it creates friction. Obviously, we can't totally do that--we all have expectations of ourselves and others--but perhaps it simply starts by presenting ourselves to God as we really are and getting used to being more okay with that. If we can do that in the presence of God, perhaps we can at least reveal enough of that person to others that they see a more realistic cartoon, and have room to adjust to our good days and our bad days, or have room for tolerance and reconciliation.

Almighty God...
Let me present myself to you for who I am.
Grant me courage to reveal that person to myself and to others.

I need to feel how you love that person, so I can love others better.
I need to see how you love me when I'm moody and contrary.
I need to see how you love me when I fail to live up to your standards.
I need to see how you love me when I've let you down miserably.
I need to see how you cut me slack when I don't deserve it.

When I can see those things, Lord,
Would you please put upon my heart the ability to reconcile myself
to the faults of others?
To have the courage to forgive when they have stabbed my heart
with a red-hot poker and I can still smell it burning?
To have the indifference to put it aside and leave them
to your dealings with them in your all's own way?

And finally, Lord...
I hope this isn't too much to ask in one sitting...
Would you teach me the ability to let go of illusions?
The illusion that I can steer how others see me,
or choose to deal with me
only slows me down in accepting what you want me to do,
and to love myself and others in the way you love me.

Use me, Lord, as you see fit.
Use me as I am, Almighty God,
in the shadow of your perfect love;

no more or no less.



I like your thinking. And since this is my first read - I will always see you as this little hippie safari smurf.

Love your neighbor as yourself. We take for granted that we love ourselves. But how many of us do? Just like we are warts and all? Lots of "home" work before we can handle the other guys.

Welcome! I just popped over to your blog, as well. Enjoyable stuff and I hope to read more of it!

Nice! And, since I'm sitting here with time on my hands (that I should be using for something else, I'm sure) I created my own little SP person...spent way too much time doing it but it was kind of fun!

You're message is great.

My mind has been on a little vacation for the last couple of days - lots of allergy congestion and sinus headache. It's starting to kick into gear again....



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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