Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I am a reflector

This realization came to be more focused in the last few months and last week really zeroed in on a finer point which hopefully will transform... well, me.

Though I didn't have clear definition, I began realizing my nature as a reflector in college. I had played racquetball for years and had been beat by some outstanding players (being beat by someone really good always raises the level of your own game) for a number of years. While in college I would regularly go play with class mates. It was obvious when we got started warming up I had played much more than most of the guys I played with. It usually went this way, I would smear them in game 1, then in the subsequent games it was a closer match but they seldom won. This continues even today when I play racquetball (though I'm not nearly as good or as young as I used to be).

As a kid growing up our Air Force family moved all over the country (world in fact) and because of that I've always been a sort of chameleon. Accents come and go over time depending on where I live and for how long. I'm currently shifting back to no accent after coming back to Colorado with a Nashville influenced southern twang.

In one of my church staff positions there was a church member who had a handicap which caused him to stutter and slur his words and to make interesting hand motions and body gestures. Whenever I conversed with him I found myself, I had to be very careful to keep myself from mimicking his behavior. Not because I was making fun of him, but I was reflecting him in our conversations. And as I noticed it with this person, I began to see it with others in other ways. It had never been something noticeable until now because mimicking people who appear "normal" was no big deal. But mimicking someone who had difficulty talking or carrying on a conversation was considered rude and it made me notice what I typically did. Most everyone I interacted with I began to realize I would mimic the personality of the interaction back to the person.

In my final years in Nashville I began to see this in light of my responses to people I interacted with. Whatever attitude co-workers would bring to meetings with me I would reflect right back at them. So those who were civil and interested in getting things done created a great deal of productivity. Those who wanted to be troublesome and wrangle... well, it typically wasn't a calm and settled meeting and reaching consensus and moving forward was difficult.

At first I didn't see it. I found myself wondering what caused this transformation in me from Mr calm who rolled up his sleeves and worked with others to get amazing things done to Mr I Can Dig My Heels In Too. Was I Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? Was there some crazy chemical transformation that took place when things got tense?

Then I put two and two together (with some other stuff too) - the same personality trait which caused my racquetball game to raise or lower to match the competition, allowed me to transform my style of communication geographically, and caused me to mimic people in my interactions with them was what was driving what I thought were crazy personality shifts at work (and in other relationships).

It was this last year I really began to put this all together and begin to be able to verbalize that I am a reflector. A great gift from Father which I had never recognized or taken the time to really contemplate. A few weeks ago as I began to think about this trait Father quietly began to help me see that in interactions I was to reflect someone other than the person I was interacting with. WOW! Being a reflector now had a whole new meaning and established a whole new set of goals. I set out to try to reflect Jesus in all my interactions. It was a new lease in life. In those instances where I naturally bounce back the personality of the person I'm interacting with, I began focusing on reflecting back Jesus instead.

Then, this last week it all came home to rest. Jesus reflected Father. The goal and purpose of His life was Father. So should be the goal and purpose of my life. And as such, I should be striving to reflect the character and personality of Father. (This is an additional blog article I'll try to add in the next few weeks... the over-emphasis some put on Jesus. That should stir some debate.) So, my new goals are to spend more and more time contemplating the character and Way of Father and in so doing hopefully begin more and more to reflect Him to everyone I interact with.

I am a reflector!