Lester is one of my closest friends. He’s really down to earth. We’re such good longtime friends that our signature greeting is still the tongue-wagging, long drawn-out, “Whaaaaasssuuuuuppp!” from the Budweiser commercials back in the day. If Lester were a climate, he would be the cool breeze you feel as you step onto the beach. When I see him, for the most part, I know what the “forecast” will be.
This had me thinking.
What do your friends expect the forecast to be when they see you coming? (a.k.a. first impression) How does your presence affect the climate of a room? If you were to rank yourself on a “Climate Change” scale, with 10 being a pleasant sunny day in paradise and zero being every disaster scene from the movie 2012, where would you rank yourself?
Here’s the irony: Some of you will rank yourselves higher than you really deserve and others lower than you really are. By the way, you are probably the worst judge of the kind of climate you carry around. I know this because I scored myself significantly high when I was first presented with the question … until I chatted with a few friends who actually know me. Let’s just say the beach isn’t fun when it “suddenly” starts drizzling rain.
The truth is, some people are convinced they are the sunny-but-cool morning breeze, when in reality, everyone gets tense when they see them coming — sort of like when you see those dark clouds in the sky approaching. Others think of themselves as a “snow-mageddon” because of their inner turmoil, but in reality, the person God has called them to be is more like a beacon of hope, like the first ray of warm sunlight after a major storm.
Do you know what often shapes our lives and personalities resulting in our unique climates? Three things: Unmet expectations, emotional wounds, and hygiene. There’s probably more, but those sound awesome for now. Let me give you a quick run down.
UNMET EXPECTATIONS are like the raisin in Langston Hughes poem, “A Dream Deferred.” When your dreams and aspirations don’t pan out as you want or as quickly as you’d like, some of that discontentment starts to ooze. That nasty odor is unfortunately often projected on those who cross your path.
WOUNDS refer to the difficult, emotional or relational experiences you had earlier in life that have shaped how you see yourself as an adult. It also influences how you present yourself in your social circles. Whether you are aware of it or not, a lot of your struggles today may be rooted in an issue from your past that you haven’t yet addressed.
Thirdly, the climate you carry around might simply be an issue of HYGIENE. There’s nothing super-spiritual about this. The issue of your climate and forecast could easily be resolved if you’d simply take a shower, get a haircut or purchase a brand-new outfit! Believe me, I’m of the strong belief that the greatest gift you can give to your friends, (or future spouse) is the unfading inner beauty of a gentle, quiet, and godly spirit, but can we also agree that sloppiness conveys the wrong message about who you truly are?
So let’s assume you’ve searched internally and mysteriously find no wrong. Do you know another easy way to get an accurate read on the climate you carry with you?
Don’t just ask anybody (because haters out there are gonna’ hate). Rather, ask three of your closest friends, mentors, or family members who actually like you, know you, spend time with you, and are invested in your maturity and growth. You can rephrase it in a way that best reflects your voice, but here’s a good question to privately ask those 3 people. Hey, I need you to help me with something. I’m trying to be a better person and want to understand my emotional and relational blind spots. Can you be COMPLETELY HONEST and tell me what it’s like to be on the other side of me? (Credit for that question goes to Jeff Henderson from North Point Community Church.)
I should probably warn you about the potential responses you’ll receive.
Some of it will be encouraging, some of it will be surprising, and some of it will hurt.
The first two are easy. The last one might suck. So here’s a game plan: One, recognize that not every response definitively defines ALL of who and what you are. You’re a complex creature and constantly evolving emotionally, especially as you encounter truth. So there’s hope.
Two, how you respond to the information you receive will determine what it becomes. If you simply see that negative information as an attack or an affront on you, you will activate that information to become a curse. But if you see the information that comes in as an opportunity to learn and to listen and to grow, you will activate that information to be a blessing to you and those close to you. The choice is yours.
I’ll end with this. The healthier you are internally, the healthier your external climate will be. You can’t fake it, because unhealthiness oozes. While I’m convinced my above suggestions will be helpful, the healthiest thing you can do with your life is to spend as much time as you can with Christ in His Word.
Because you’ll eventually start to give off a Christ-like aroma … and that, my friends, is a very welcoming climate!