By Dayna Vreeken
I recently celebrated another birthday.
I’m young, but getting older. And the older I get, the more I ponder the question, ‘Who do I want to become?’
I don’t know why I’m asking the question, but I am.
Who do I want to become? And what will I do/what will I implement in my life/what daily habits will I faithfully live with so I can become that?
Throughout our lives, our whole lives long we are constantly becoming.
We are becoming more who we were meant to be or less. We are becoming someone who is defined by kindness, faithfulness, compassion, self-control, love, patience, joy, hope, peace, goodness or by the opposite of all that.
We are becoming people who seek justice or who create systems of injustice by our quietness around issues. We arebecoming people who are open, loving, welcoming, allowing others to write on our hearts, or more closed. We are becoming people who forgive, or people who hold onto bitterness and pain.
We are becoming people who move toward healing as much as is possible, or who are content to stagnate in our wounds. We are becoming more like Christ or less like Christ.
We are becoming. Always.
But becoming someone characterized by certain virtues takes time, effort, planning.
It requires us thinking about who we want to become and then how we will achieve it. We don’t become a runner or famous pianist simply by dreaming about it, but by running and practicing every day.
The same is true of becoming who we want to become. We must faithfully, daily, practice habits that move us in the direction of the person we want to become.
We have to practice those virtues we want to be defined by. We need models and mentors who can help us see what it looks like further down the road, who can encourage and support us in our journey. We must dream, let our imaginations run wild, be told stories about becoming something if we want to know another way of living is possible.
This is one of the many reasons the church exists—to paint a picture of what becoming like Christ looks like and then making it possible through the support of others, being aware of God’s interaction in our lives, habits, and storytelling.
Unfortunately, this question – who do you want to become and how will you get to becoming that? is rarely asked. It’s definitely not a conversation opener, not one you ask at a party. It hits us too close to our hearts. Instead we ask, as the graduates this season know all too well – what will/do you do?
This is the easy, culturally appropriate question.
You can ask it at a gathering with people you don’t know and successfully make small talk. But it’s not a beautiful question.
The question seems to get at our culture’s need to define each other by what we’ve done and accomplished. The question ultimately focuses on plans, milestones, abilities.
But what if we don’t work. What if we try to work but because of illness, job loss, homelessness, or a whole host of otherthings, cannot work?
Suddenly, because of our great obsession with this question, we’ve lost all cultural markers of who we are and our inability to perform to a certain standard is highlighted rather than who we are.
This is not good.
We are not human doings. But human beings.
A big difference.
I’ve been to quite a few funerals over the past while. And the thing that is remembered more so than their achievements, milestones and professions is the character of the person—who the person was.
I think this shows us the importance and need for the question: who do you want to become? How will you work toward that?
These questions give us a vision for life that allows us to be something outside of our abilities to achieve, professions, and milestones; and to take notice of ‘ordinary’ people in the world who model faithful living, who embody the traits and characteristics that we desire in our lives.
Rev. Dayna Vreeken is a pastor at Woodynook Christian Reformed Church.