I Need a Personality Upgrade
A while ago I told a friend that she talked too much. We were sitting in a circle during a book club and the topic of conversation turned to listening and the importance of it in relationship to others. And as she droned on and on, I finally couldn’t take it any more and so I told her, in my most detached clinical psychologist voice, “you have a problem with words. You use too many of them!” Of course, everyone was stunned. The room went silent. After all, who says that to a person? Who actually volunteers to destroy a friendship in order to teach a potentially life changing and valuable lesson? Me. That’s who. In fact, that’s not the first time. Nope, I’m fearless in the face of friendship suicide. If I see a shortcoming in someone I love I am so selfless that I will fall on the grenade of relationship destruction and be blown to smithereens just to help a woman get out of her endless loop of self-denial.
Of course, I know I’m alone in this tragic flaw, because that friend I told to shut up, after she recovered, went to five of our closest friends and asked each of them if they thought she talked too much. To my surprise not one of them was fearless enough to confirm her infatuation with her own voice. So when she came back to me with her data that five out of five friends interviewed said she wasn’t that much of a talker I was beside myself. Why would they lie? I questioned. Why wouldn’t they help a girl out. See, at the time I couldn’t see that the truth told in such a way doesn’t help anyone, but in fact, hurts the very one you are trying to help. At the time I was all about being the conscience of the world, taking the place of the Holy Spirit and pushing people into change. And boy what a mess I made. From telling a friend she didn’t love her kids, to saying that another’s favorite book was “spiritually destructive,” I put being (brutally) honest above being kind and trusting my friends to discover truth in their own time.
Ten years and multiple burnt bridges later I have come to realize that I need a personality upgrade. The status quo of Hayley ‘the volunteering counselor’ had to change. But who changes their personality? Who looks in the mirror and says, “I’ve gotten it all wrong. The desires, the impulses, the approach, the tendencies, the urges, all wrong?” I talk when I should be silent. I am silent when I should talk. I tend to fear conversations focused on my life because of potential rejection and instead focus on others out of a desire to help them in their misery. I am quick to use the missteps and mistakes of others in order to make a point. I’m a hot mess. But if there’s one thing I’ve come to learn through all of my years of studying God’s Word, it’s that my personality is not a life sentence but an infatuation with my flesh. For years I thought that personality was in the DNA, and maybe it is, but isn’t the DNA just an invisible part of the flesh? If it is, then it, like the rest of my flesh should be able to be changed.
If my personality is all about the sin, bout the sin, bout the sin (all trouble), then something’s gotta change. I am no longer comfortable saying things like, “that’s just who I am,” or “I have a sarcastic personality, it’s nothing personal.” Why have I clung for so long to the character of my flesh? Why have I accepted the status quo as if it were more powerful than the Holy Spirit. Why haven’t I applied the words from 2 Corinthians 5:17 to my personality? “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come,” cuz’ I’m a mess, that’s why. But even messes can be cleaned up. Of course, if they’re in my house they won’t be for long. Mess seems to be the natural state of my stuff, and it’s definately the natural state of my personality. But at least being aware of it is the first step, right? So today I’m gonna do what different does, and ask God for a personality upgrade, since I know I can’t do it myself. And I’m gonna thank him for his grace because I know I’m gonna fall back into Hayley 4.0 (yes this is my 5th major upgrade). Let me just say now that I might say something incredibly insensitive to you in the future, but please know that I only say those things to those I love. And I love you.