13 Comments 27 May 2010

How do you define yourself?  Is it the clothes you wear, the car you drive, the music you listen to, or is it the tattoo across your back?  Is it the place you are from or the place where you now call home, the team you follow, the school you attended, the tweets you broadcast to the world, or is it the thoughts you have in your private, silent moments?  Which person is the real you – the weekday you or the weekend you?  Are you really the serious professional you present to your colleagues or are you the fun-loving free spirit you present on your Facebook page?  What about the church you or the in-front-of-your-parents you who utters no foul language and can’t believe the degradation of society today – is that the real deal or is it the party you who knows the words to every song and likes to dance to the break-a break-a dawn (thank you, Beastie Boys)?  Or is it a combination of all of these things?  Are we simply a sum of all our parts, all our “selves” or is there a central, unchangeable, unmistakable you that is hiding (or was once hidden) underneath all of the layers of other “you’s” that are perfectly packaged and  presented to the world at the proper time?

I am one of those who once had layers upon layers…upon layers(!!)…of other “me’s” that I transitioned between given the situation and the moment.  There was definitely the in-front-of-my-parents me (sorry, mom and dad), the sports field me, the frat-daddy me, the church me, the alone with Casey me, the business me, the school me, the out with my friends without Casey me…the list literally has no end in sight; I don’t think I am even aware of all of the “me’s” that I had created along life’s highway.  I was Mr. Everything – not that I could actually do everything, but I could certainly appear to be everything to everybody in every situation.  I could be the life of the party, the church-going moralist, the hard-driving employee, the world’s best boyfriend/fiancee/husband, and all points in between at any given moment.  I defined myself by the fraternity tattoo on my shoulder, the Alice in Chains and Rage Against the Machine decals on the back of my truck, and the chip on my shoulder…oh yeah, that was one giant chip, just ask my mom and dad!  I also defined myself as a good person, as a leader, as a man with all the answers, and when it was convenient…as a Christian.

So were any of those the real me and if so, which one?  Well, none of them were.  And at times all of them were, at least in a very singular, simplistic sense.  Most of the time I acted like a leader, approached problems with the heart of a good person, had lots of good answers (sometimes to very difficult questions), and many times I even acted in accordance with Christ’s teachings.  So does that mean that I was all of those things?  What about those other times, the times when I did not act like a leader, did not choose to be a good person, or acted in a way that was clearly un-Christian?  Did God’s grace simply wash those times away, even when I did not ask him to do so, leaving only the good in me behind?  Is it really that simple – act however you want, be the person you choose to be for the moment, good or bad, then double down on Christ’s crisis on the cross and skip your way past the pearlys when your time has come?

Well, I’m no Biblical scholar so I do not really know the answer to those questions.  But I have led somewhat of a double life in times past and I have had some experiences that lead me to believe one way over the other.  So I’ll throw out a few of my thoughts and let you all decide for yourselves…..

I believe there is a real, unchangeable, perfectly designed me…and I believe the same of you.  I believe that underneath all of those layers that we so carefully display there is a real you and me dying to show itself to the world.  I believe there is a definition to your soul which was written, designed, manufactured, and is now being quality tested by inspector #1…the only one who has the right to do such a thing.  And I believe that all of those other versions of you and of me that we all encounter every day are our own creations, established simply for protection from the harsh reality that sometimes defines life in general.

For me, I eventually ran into a reality or two for which the many different versions of myself had no more answers.  Finding out that you cannot provide your wife with a child in the way God originally designed is just one of those realities…and of course, finding out that you are going to be adding five little lives to the family mix is another.    Those were times when God literally took account of everything that he had invested in me up to that point and simply said, “everything that you have will not be enough; you’ll have to trust me.”

Huh?  Can you run that one by me again, Lord?  “That’s right, son, there is nothing that you can do that will impact the final outcome this time.  Trust me, I know what I am doing,” came the reply.

Looking back, I can now see the beauty in those events, along with a few others, that played a pivotal role in the effort of casting off all of the past wanna-be me’s and allowing the true me to define the future.  In those times, when God’s Kryptonite stripped me of my superpowers, I discovered something – I like this definition of who I am.  And not only do I like it, it is a whole heck of a lot easier to go through life when you only have one you to keep up with!

People ask us all the time how we do it.   They say, “How do you manage to keep up with five babies plus Eliot and then handle all of the other stuff that you have going on?” or some version of that question.  And while I could reply by saying things like we gave up TV, we never rest, or other stuff along the same lines, the real answer is another thing entirely.  I discovered the real me by defining myself through Christ and Casey did the same thing.  And because of that, God’s grace allows us to manage it all; there is simply no other answer.  I have retired the old “me’s”, hopefully forever, though I know it is a battle that will continue until my last day.  But there is only one me that I want you to know and that is the same me that I was designed to be…by the only one with the authority to do such a thing………

God Bless,


Your Comments

13 Comments so far

  1. Jennifer says:

    Awesome, I love it! God has a plan for you that you could have never imagined, but you trusted Him and look at the blessings that came from that. Your kids are lucky to have you and Casey as their parents. One day they will realize all that you gave up for them and be truly grateful for that. Thank you for letting me be a part of your family’s journey!! God obviously had a hand in putting our paths together!

  2. Alyssa M. says:

    What an awesome message! God’s grace truly is incredible, and its amazing what he will do in our lives if we simply give it all to him and allow him to do so. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Dusty says:

    You’re talking about behaviour, er, sorry, behavior. You’re the same person in every situation, but the situations you described are all social situations and you’ve learned to engage in different patterns of behavior as determined by the reinforcements and punishments (the harsh realities you mentioned) inherent in each. The trick is to learn to engage in a similar pattern of behavior (be the same person) in every situation and being ok with letting the chips fall where they fall.

    Hey, just one logical question: how is it that you can be a boyfriend/fiancee/husband all at the same moment? And with six kids! You really are a machine. :) Love you, bro.

  4. Stacy says:

    WOW! …… that’s all I’ve got. :)

  5. Stephanie says:

    Perfectly said! When we trust in Him, he will show us the light! You guys are great!

  6. stephanie p says:

    That was beautiful, Ethan! Our pastor at our church has been touching on a few of those points that you made. It is so refreshing to hear it again. And, it is so great to see another living it. God is so very good and He does know what he is doing!!

  7. shannan says:

    This is a great post, Ethan.

  8. Klin says:

    AMEN! Once I made the decision to follow His plan for me, life got much easier in doing all the hard things. It makes sense and gives me direction.

    L.O.V.E. the pictures.

  9. Ryan says:

    This is just what I needed on this Thursday. Thanks Ethan

  10. lora says:

    Let go and let God! thanks for your story!

  11. Tori says:

    I loved this post. :)

  12. Kinnison says:

    This is exactly what I needed to read!
    You’ll never realize how many lives you’ve impacted through your witness to the world…thank you, Ethan Jones (& Casey & Eliot & Ryan & Lila & Brooklyn & Britton & Jack)…and CHEERS! to being the best YOU that you could ever be!

  13. Brandie says:

    This is so sincere and refreshing- ecclesiastes 2010-
    Looking forward to your family, TLC sytle.

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