Integrating the Two Me’s

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but as a newlywed I got caught up in the story lines of the soap opera “One Life to Live” for one or two summers.  I recall very little of the saga (there was actually very little worth remembering!), except for Viki Lord who struggled with multiple personality disorder.  I’m not exactly sure why I remember that struggle so vividly, except maybe it was my first exposure to such a disorder.

One week ago, after two weeks of intense face-to-face classes and conversation in the community of my seminary cohort, I flew home from Portland, Oregon.  There is nothing as glorious as being warmly greeted by ten eager children and one excited husband at the airport.  And while I was happy to be home, part of me slumped in sadness and my mind quickly recalled the night before.  As I packed my suitcase, with tears overflowing my eyes, those memories of Viki Lord struggling with multiple personalities came to mind.  In some small way, I could identify with her, as I realized that I too was struggling, feeling like two disconnected people.

Chatting with John on Facebook that night, with the screen blurry from my tear-filled eyes, I tried to describe my struggle.  “I feel like two different people.  There’s the me here in Portland – the me who’s passionate about theology and ministry.  And then there’s the me in Montana – the me who gets excited about coupon deals at Albertson’s and whose days are filled with cursive instruction, history lessons and middle school math.”

Even now thinking about the challenge to integrate my two me’s, I experience more frustration, more uncertainty, more questions than answers or solutions.  My seminary classwork, ministry opportunities, speaking and writing can be the threads that stitch together my two worlds – and for that, I’m grateful.  But I’m still left wondering whether I am meant to just be two pieces simply stitched together, or one fully integrated whole.

Actually, I don’t have to wonder about that question for too long.  I already know the answer.

Somehow I must learn to piece together each part of me, like the multi-colored pieces of glass, into a congruent, unified, harmonious whole  – a beautiful masterpiece like the stained glass windows in European cathedrals.  A whole greater than the sum of its parts – each piece of glass interesting by itself, but when combined with others – something far more glorious to behold.

But in reality, that creation isn’t something I can craft on my own.  Only God can take shards and segments, parts and pieces, and create beauty.  It is only He who creates beauty from ashes, redeems our broken, segmented lives, and fashions our multiple personalities that don’t fit together into masterpieces.

And so I wait expectantly, wondering and imagining what His creativity will produce with my multiple me’s.  I remind myself that each segment of my personality, no matter how seemingly disjointed and ill-fitting, has greater purpose in His redemptive plan.  The lyrics to Gungor’s “Beautiful Things” echo in the background, as tears once again fall, but this time with a little more hope that somehow He will indeed piece together, integrate, and harmonize all of me into one complete whole.

And you were made beautiful with gold and silver. Your clothes were made of fine linen and were beautifully embroidered. You ate the finest foods-fine flour, honey, and olive oil-and became more beautiful than ever.  Ezekiel 16:13 NLT