“For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” (Proverbs 23:7)
When I was a very small boy, I wanted to be “Davy Crockett”. I was so captivated by the person of Davy Crockett, that I would not only look forward to watching the Walt Disney television series about him with Fess Parker in the leading role, but I would also dress up like him and act out the role as a child. I can also remember my Dad taking me down to our local record shop and buying me the hit single, the Ballad of Davy Crockett” – “Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier.”
One day, my grandfather, who was a barber, asked me, “Billy, do you want me to cut your hair so that you look like Davy Crockett with a raccoon tail?” Of course, he was only kidding, but I don’t know if at the time I thought he was kidding as I was only 5 or 6 years old, and very gullible. Everyone thought, I am sure, that that was adorable, but as we mature into adults, many of us today, because of dissatisfaction with who we are, also dwell on and cast ourselves in roles that are not particularly suited to us.
The notion that we are what we eat or that which we dwell on is portrayed humorously in the following conversation between Basil, a middle class English writer, and Zorba, a Greek peasant, from the book “Zorba the Greek”. The phrase you are what you eat, however, is not to be taken literally herein, but rather connotes, what the mind ingests has a bearing on one’s state of mind.
(Zorba) “Tell me what you do with the food you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are. Some turn their food into fat and manure, some into work and good humor, and others, I’m told, into God. So there must be three sorts of men. I’m not one of the worst, boss, nor yet one of the best. I’m somewhere in between the two. What I eat I turn into work and good humor. That’s not too bad, after all!’
(Basil) He looked at me wickedly and started laughing.
(Zorba) As for you, boss, he said, ‘I think you do your level best to turn what you eat into God. But you can’t quite manage it, and that torments you. The same thing’s happening to you as happened to the crow.’
(Basil) ‘What happened to the crow, Zorba?’
(Zorba) ‘Well, you see, he used to walk respectably, properly – well, like a crow. But one day he got it into his head to try and strut about like a pigeon. And from that time on the poor fellow couldn’t for the life of him recall his own way of walking. He was all mixed up, don’t you see? He just hobbled about.”
― Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek
How many of us are dissatisfied with who we are and our circumstances, and also try our level best to change things but can’t quite manage it? Because discontent lurks in every person’s heart, we oftentimes try to change who we are, our God given talents, brains and physical appearance, and also our situations, and sometimes it is at grave cost. Unfortunately, many of us who look in the mirror and wish we were someone else, end up tormented like the crow, and hobble about, all mixed up.
But don’t misunderstand me. There is nothing wrong with aspiring to be something or wanting to change our circumstances for the better, just as long as it is a realistic possibility and ordained of God for me as a person. Regardless of who I am and my circumstances, the Bible teaches that I should be content. In , Paul learned to be content in whatever his circumstances and even with his physical infirmity for he says “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Note: the secret of Paul’s strength was not in himself, but in knowing that Jesus Christ was the source of his strength. Paul was content because Jesus was his all sufficiency. 4:12-13
Whatever your situation, whatever your dissatisfaction with life, whether it be self-esteem, your job, your spouse, etc., rather than begrudge these things and wish you were someone else, choose to look in the mirror and focus on “whatever is right, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is fair, whatever is pure, whatever is acceptable, whatever is commendable, if there is anything of excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—keep thinking about these things.” (Philippians 4:8, ISV). The Bible teaches that we are changed by the things we behold or that which we dwell on. “We are what we believe we are” – C.S. Lewis. Similarly, believers in Christ who behold in the mirror, or who “contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NIV).
Copyright 2016 by Bill Hutzel