There are few pieces of relationship advice more annoying than “be yourself.” Along with “follow your heart,” it seems to be the slogan of my generation. Maybe we’ve watched too many Disney movies and romantic comedies. Maybe we truly think we deserve to be loved by everyone as long as we’re staying true to our every emotion and whim. Whatever the reason, the belief is that it’s always best to do what you want, and be exactly who you are at the moment.
I say that’s lazy. And, it’s extremely self-absorbed. And very unchristian.
It’s lazy because it assumes that people in a relationship shouldn’t have to change their behavior at all to make a relationship work. But successful relationships are built on change. They’re built on sacrifice, on compromise. Time spent in the company of another person is going to change your self. It might mean you have to learn to say nice things to them that you didn’t used to say to people before. It might mean becoming a person who talks less and listens more.
Something I’ve noticed in myself and in my sister is that we’re more inspired to be better people when we’re in relationships. It might be superficial, but the reality is that maintaining a healthy relationship where both partners are giving and receiving in some way makes you a more considerate person.
Besides, who wants to be themselves? If we’re Christians, then we believe what the Bible says about our sinful state. We know that there is nothing good in ourselves. So why would we want to be that?
The person we should be trying to be is Jesus, not ourselves. Whether or not we’re in a relationship, Jesus is who we should aspire to be. I know myself to be selfish, sinful, prideful, among countless other negative things. I don’t want to change that sometimes. But I should want to. I should want to be more like Jesus.
I don’t want to be myself. I want to be better.
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