“Time spent in the Bible teaches you about God.
Time spent with others teaches you about yourself.”
The quote above may not be exact. It is a comment that I remember from at least 20 years ago or maybe longer. I can’t recall specifically the person who made the statement, but I can narrow it down to two or three possibilities, all of whom were teachers I respected greatly and valued deeply.
It may not be an indisputable fact; there are many who would certainly debate it. Nonetheless, the statement has made an indelible impression on me. Life is like that, isn’t it? The most seemingly innocuous comments and interchanges travel with us through time, weighing us down with baggage or providing a platform to project us forward.
For me, somehow I have to believe there is Truth in the first line of the opening quote. For me, it has been a statement that consistently has been proven correct. Many facts and much knowledge can be gleaned from reading and studying any book, including the Bible. The printed matter can be taken lightly by the reader and the reader remains unmoved. Or the written word can be delved into and soaked in, changing the reader down to the marrow of their being based on belief and faith in the Author and the validity of the message of the Book.
For me, somehow I have to believe there is Truth in the second line of the opening quote. For me, it has been a statement that consistently has been proven correct. I have prided myself in believing that I know “me” pretty well. I know my likes and dislikes, my weaknesses and my strengths, my longings and my fears, my hopes and my dreams, my purpose and my calling. But ironically I meet a new person and discover something new about myself, often learning more about me than I do about them.
Perhaps the fact of the matter is this. I like to believe I am “this person” because of my well-honed mannerisms and motivations, my tested and tried convictions and preferences, my deeply rooted and deeply rutted mindset. The people around me respond in a predictable manner to my personality and way of doing life. In actuality, I may not be the person I think I am. Enter in a new person, or a new experience, and I find myself “acting out of character”. Or perhaps my true character is suddenly revealed? Perhaps what is revealed when I am blindsided or thrust out of my comfort zone is the real me.
I am not happy when a hidden weakness is revealed and I am helplessly exposed. When a hidden strength or an inspiring power is revealed, I am simply thrilled. The discovery of “a new person” happens with time spent with others.
Will the unveiling show a masterpiece, a work of art as though shaped and formed by a Master Craftsman or will it be like opening Pandora’s Box, an insouciant exposure of things we would rather have remained hidden and safely locked away? Life is like that, isn’t it? The most seemingly innocuous encounters and interchanges hit us at a specific moment in time, challenging us to examine if we are really who we say we are.