Monday, April 19, 2010

Character Flaws

If anyone remembers back to like 6th grade, we all learned about character development. We examined each characters strength's and weaknesses and how it related to the story. Deep within each character is one underlying character flaw which jades all their future behavior and attitude in accordance with their flaw.

Some how the character manages to use coping skills to meet their particular need caused by their character flaw. For example individuals who are insecure might meet their need to feel secure in all different ways. One person might become a bully, criticizing others to hide their inner shortcomings. Another person might be a compulsive liar or a gossiper, as their outlandish stories will bring people back for more, making them feel important. Someone else might become introverted and shy, trying to hide themselves form the world. Still another person might become a people-pleaser, constantly going out of their way in order to build their self worth on how happy people are around them.

Along with character flaws come certain symptoms. People who are insecure may not care for their physical bodies properly, either neglecting it altogether or overworking it. They might turn to drinking or drugs to try and escape the reality of their shortcomings. They may become depressed or even suicidal. They may be arrogant or prideful. They might be filled with envy, hatred, or anger. They might harbor bitterness or unforgiveness. They might become abusive or place themselves in a position to be abused. They may have an extreme drive to succeed or they may give up on life altogether and never strive to accomplish anything. They might have an addictive personality. They might take extreme risks or never step out on a limb.

The truth is these symptoms can show up with any character flaw. However, like in any case with a disease, you can treat each symptom one at a time or you can cure the disease altogether. The difficulty a lot of times is trying to find a diagnosis. Recently someone I know finally received a diagnosis for a disease they have. They had many different symptoms that were all treated separately, and it wasn't until their total health picture was examined as a whole that the diagnosis was clear. Sometimes once a diagnosis is reached the proper treatment can be given, not to just relieve the symptoms but to eradicate the disease altogether.

When looking at our lives we often only look at our symptoms when trying to find the proper solution. You might hear "I am an alcoholic," or "I have an anger problem," but the question we have to ask ourselves is what is REAL problem? What is the character flaw that is causing these symptoms?

Lots of times a flaw is developed by the person's environment. Once a flaw is identified, someone can look back and see "Oh I must be insecure because my dad worked a lot so I thought he didn't love me or want to spend time with me." Lots of times these people did not intend to have a direct influence on us, and we can often see that it was more of how their actions were perceived by us what made us who we are today. In some cases a person really did intend to hurt us, but something in their past caused them to have the same underlying struggle with their own character flaw. Abuse is only a symptom, it is not a flaw in itself. All it takes to get beyond these situations in our past is to forgive. Its difficult to forgive someone who did intend to cause harm upon us, but if we look at their struggle God can fill us with his compassion for that person and the negative environment that shaped them. They are people too, unable to cope with their character flaw in any other way then to destroy everyone around them. If we can identify with what they have been through, we can often move in a direction of sympathy instead of hatred or anger.

Once we break free from the past holding onto us the rest of our lives are dedicated to finding ways to either cope with our "disease" in a positive way or ultimately eradicate it from our lives altogether. In the bible, Paul mentioned a thorn in his side, and no one is really very clear on whether this is a physical ailment or a character flaw. What we are clear about it is God used it to keep him humble and had no intention of freeing him from his struggle. I believe because we are each born in sin, we each have something negative that is constantly holding us back from reaching our full potential. It causes us to make mistakes and stumble through life. If we didn't have something holding us back, we would all be perfect.

That being said, my disease is, of course, insecurity. I cope with it by utilizing perfectionism, a critical and judgmental mindset, and a negative attitude. I have experienced times in life where I become depressed, abusive, angry, bitter, and envious. I can look at my life one piece at a time, trying to deal with my anger through this teaching, my depression through that class, my bitterness through this healing, etc, but true freedom only comes when I battle my insecurity at its root. I need to see what God's word says about me and continually use it as a weapon against the lies of my enemy. He wants me to be disabled by my symptoms so I can never get past my character flaw to engage in the REAL battle, the one for souls. The reality of the situation is every single day people die. Every single day people don't go to heaven. Every single day I am too busy struggling with myself to reach outward to a needy world.

I praise God for my weakness, for in my weakness He is strong. I may never be fully secure with who I am. I may always struggle with trying to be perfect or criticizing others. I am convinced, however, that I can still be used by God. He can take me with all my shortcomings and do amazing things for his kingdom. All I need is to not be SELF confident, but GOD confident. None of the disciples had it all together, but what they did have was faith that their God could do anything, which made them powerful vessels. If I have faith in my God's capability, and I am just willing to do what he asks, I can make a difference. If I take my eyes off myself and look to my Lord, I can be used in spite of my character flaw.

It isn't wrong for me to pray that God heals me of my insecurity, or to work toward bettering myself, but a better me is not the goal, it is just a benefit that comes with walking the path God has called me to as I serve him and his purposes for my life. I can spend time searching the scripture for truth to apply to my life, but that is not the true purpose of God's word. It is to reveal himself to the world so they can come to know him. Once I reach heaven, I will become perfect anyway, so if that was God's purpose for us on earth, it would be a waste of time. No, my purpose here is to get to know my God better so I can tell others about him. It is to live a life that draws others to his light so as many people as possible can be snatched out of the darkness to enjoy eternity with their creator in heaven.

My prayer is that all of us get beyond our own personal struggle to move forward and do battle for what really matters, a lost and hurting world.


Tracy:D said...

I find that I get irritated with my flaws because they take my focus away from others, but apparently not irritated enough to just say, "You know what? You go see Jesus about the havoc you're wreaking in my life. I have the Father's work to do." Working on it. Thanks for sharing.

"Jesus replied, 'If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.'" John 4:10