To Be or To Become?
What is the difference between being and becoming?
This is a question that has been haunting my mind in the last weeks. I believe that being is a state. It is being who we are. It is living our everyday lives. On the other hand, becoming is a process. It means that we are working on becoming an influential, great, or famous person. America is known for its culture of becoming. You can see that in how people pursue titles. The more titles we have in front of our name, the better it seems. The more lines we have in the signature of our emails, the more impressive it seems. Because of this, we tend to strive to become.
I have become a bit spiritually down by this zeitgeist. I felt I couldn’t live up to the goals I had set for myself. Until I stopped and realized that the times in which I grew the most in my character was when I was just Jo. Nothing more. Just doing my daily stuff and trying to be faithful. Taking opportunities as they came my way, but mostly just staying teachable, small, growing from friends and pastors.
What about studies? Well, they did stretch my mind, but they did so much less for my character. I had little time to learn from people when I studied. I had little insights into life because my brain was so full of becoming, and not being.
Now here is a question: how do we be, versus become?
I think much of our character is grown not through knowledge, but through cultivating wisdom. Wisdom grows through life encounters. Knowledge is found in books and study material. Wisdom is found in life experience. Wisdom is knowledge applied. Therefore, no academic studies can make you wise.
Studying theology doesn’t make you wise. Living with God makes you wise.
Studying psychology doesn’t make you people smart. Being with people makes you people smart.
One of the proofs that this is true is a book that I love on trauma. It is written by a psychologist who says that textbooks are useless when it comes to treating patients. He wrote his book based on 20 years of experience in dealing with trauma patients. And it is the book I trust the most in the field. It isn’t his knowledge that made him so wise. It was him being a psychologist and sitting with the patients that made him wise.
The Bible affirms this all. The Bible warns that when we become, we better make sure that we be.
Jesus says that if we want to be great, we become the best of servants. It also warns that the more we know, the stricter God will judge us if we do not live it out. James says: Whoever knows what is right but doesn’t do it, sins. James 4:17. And Jesus says that whoever knows and doesn’t do it will be judged harsher, in Luke 12. The Bible also says that if we pursue greatness for the sake of respect and human reward, that we will not be rewarded in heaven, for we have had our reward of greatness and honor on the earth. In fact, Jesus says that if we are busy with anything other than taking care of his most insignificant people, we are neglecting him. So don’t think that God values a PhD, a book that you read or write, or any accomplishment over sitting down with a broken person and loving them. Without anyone noticing it. Be. Don’t strive to become. And I certainly say this to myself.
If you want to change your story… be. Live. Just live. Live faithfully, teachably, and be who you are. The best form of becoming happens subconsciously while we are busy being. So let’s change our story, one story at a time, and one restful human being at a time.