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Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Self Examination of Leslie Knope

Y'all. Leslie Knope and I are the same person.

Leslie, the fictional blonde-haired, crazy-eyed government employee of a small town in Indiana, yes the two of us are the same. It's like watching myself on screen. She's joyfully, annoyingly crazy. She's loud, on the go, and is loyal to a fault. She's enthusiastic and passionate about her job. She's motivated by her love for people. She responds irrationally to situations and has a corner to point her in the right direction. She verbally processes, a string of thoughts just falling out of her mouth. I AM HER.

I've seen Parks and Rec episodes numerous times. Most of the time, it's just on in my apartment, while I'm moving around, doing other things. I can quote it like a boss. It's been a source of hilarious comfort to feel a bond with a person who doesn't exist.

I also have a coffee mug that says, "be the Leslie Knope of whatever you do."

I really think we can learn from anything and everything.

Lately, I've been thinking about self examination. I'm always thinking about self-examination. You know, the whole crazy painful beautiful process of becoming more fully and wholly and freely who Christ made you to be. Man, it's tough sometimes. It's layer after layer, peeling to the core. I sit down with my LifeGroup ladies and hear them talk about discovering who they are and they didn't realize this about themselves and who am I?? and what is this?? and I think, I'm right there with you. It's a wild, interesting, crazy process.

And the process never ends.

It can knock you off your guard. Make you feel like you're stuck floating in a snow globe. But sometimes, I actually don't hate it. When I can see it for what it is, it's actually really, really cool. When I can see the work of all God, I can see the way He is sanctifying and reforming me.

He is intentional and intricate and He really, really cares. 

Leslie got a new job in season 4 and had to make a new, unpopular decision in season 5 and she feels disoriented and unsure and like she's lost her bearings on her values. Good and faithful and steady Ron Swanson looks her in the eye and says in no uncertain terms get yourself together and reminds her that her circumstances may have changed, but her values have not. The core of who she is has not. She remains hardworking and passionate and believes in the best interests of people. Her context may have changed, she will grow tremendously, but her character has not. She will be stretched, but she will be better.

Because don't those turn out to be the greatest seasons of life, those in which we groan and stretch and attempt to run, but once we move forward, we find that we are better for it? Our self, our soul, is being shaped into fullness and doesn't that almost never happen in stagnancy or complacency?

This process reminds me of words from the song Ever Be on my Lips. We sang it last week as a staff and these lines came alive,

you father the orphan
your kindness makes us whole
and you shoulder our weakness
and your strength becomes our own
now you're making me like you
clothing me in white
bringing beauty from ashes

Making me more like you.

Life is a sweet journey.
Wherever you are, God knows.
He believes in your life.

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