Webster defines a freak as “one that is markedly unusual or abnormal.”
I have to tell you that for the past three years I’ve considered myself to be a freak. Drawing on the values and guidelines for normalcy that had been instilled in me when I was growing up, there’s just not been much about me that I’ve considered to be normal.
Normal men don’t walk around wearing their hearts on their sleeves. Normal men aren’t as transparent as a window pane. Normal men don’t open their hearts, and all the junk that’s in them, to the world for everyone to see. Normal men don’t cry in the presence of strangers. Normal men don’t look for opportunities to share past mistakes, previous addictions, broken relationships, failures, and unmet life expectations with others. Normal men won’t stand on any street corner and openly profess their love for Jesus. Normal men wouldn’t give up a chance at a career with a global corporation because of a burning desire to share their faith in a business arena. Normal men aren’t totally blinded by their love for the Lord, putting everything else on the back burner to focus on Him.
Okay, so you may be thinking that the man I just described is normal in every way, and I totally respect your thoughts. The problem for me is that I don’t share the same sentiment, so whether looking at my reflection in the mirror, or reflecting on the state of my life, what I saw was a freak.
I didn’t mind being a freak. If I had, I could’ve chosen to live my life in a different way, but obviously I chose not to. I did question, from time to time, why God decided to “wire” me this way, and wondered if I’d ever meet another man like me. I was sure that I wasn’t the only one!
A few weeks ago a good friend of mine forwarded a message to me titled Stepping into Your Truest Identity that had been given by a gentleman named Graham Cooke. You can find a snippet of Mr. Cooke’s message on YouTube if you so desire.
I’ve taken Mr. Cooke’s message, which focused on personalities, personas, the way we look at ourselves, the way that others see us, and the way that God sees us. I’ve dissected his message, examined it from every angle, and “fleshed it out” in my mind. What I offer you today are my own thoughts from Graham’s offering, and the insights that I’ve gained along the way.
The first thing I’d like to share my thoughts with you on is in regards to our personalities.
Some definitions of personality include:
a: the quality or state of being of a person
b: the complex of characteristics that distinguishes an individual
c: distinction or excellence of personal and social traits
Our personalities are quite often in direct relation to what we think of ourselves, what others think of us, what we see when we look in the mirror, what we’ve brought forward from childhood in regards to learned behavior, and those invisible impressions that others have left on our lives.
Curiously enough, the negative behaviors and impressions seem to have the upper hand over the good ones. These include limitations and doubts of worthiness that have been planted in our minds not only by us, but by others as well. I’ll remind you that when we’re born we don’t know fear, anger, depression, doubt, prejudice, envy, shame, or any other emotion or mindset that is not of the Lord.
I believe that our personalities determine our walk in life. They set the table for who we are, what we are, what we do, and how we do it. Our personalities impact our relationships with others, with our own selves, and with God. Our personalities have a direct effect on our careers, on the choices we make, and believe it or not, on our destinies.
A persona is defined as “a personality that a person (as an actor) projects in public,” which is something that I can certainly identify with. For years, in my personal life, and in our business, the smile on my face hid the constant war that was raging within. As the front desk person in the salon that my wife Jackie and I owned and operated, I learned to be an actor. In my personal relationships I would never reveal what was in my heart, not even with my closest friends. Every once in a while I’d give Jackie a glimpse of what was going on inside, but I wouldn’t let her look for too long. I didn’t want her know how little I thought of myself.
Oh yeah. I can tell you all about that persona thing. I can tell you what was like to live a double life, wearing a smile on the outside while I was dying on the inside. I can tell you that living a lie every day only made matters worse, for me, for Jackie, for our family, and for those around me. I can tell you that my view of myself was so distorted that I could never imagine God’s view of me, that I am His child, that He loves me unconditionally, and that “…I am wonderfully and fearfully made.” Psalm 139:14
When we can see ourselves as God sees us, everything changes.
The gist of Graham Cooke’s message is that what’s most important isn’t the way we see ourselves, or the way that others see us, but the way God sees us and why He put us here.
Even as I was listening to his sermon, my mental wheels were spinning, and I was bombarding myself with questions!
What does God see in me? What do the heavens see me, Sam Maniscalco, as being on this earth? Why am I here? In a society consumed by a purpose-driven life, what is my purpose in life? Why am I this way? When God looks at me, what does He see?
The answers to my questions came immediately, and because I’m willing and open enough to share all of my thoughts with you, I’m going to do exactly that.
God sees me as a modern-day Paul the Apostle. Before you get in a huff, I’ll emphasize that I didn’t say that I am Paul reincarnate, but that God sees me as a modern-day Paul. I’m Sam Maniscalco, and I come equipped with my own visions, my own dreams, and my own set of baggage.
Unlike Paul, I never persecuted Christians, wasn’t knocked off a horse and blinded, haven’t been stoned, imprisoned, drug through the streets, or been involved in a shipwreck. (All for which I’m very grateful!) I’m not one of the great sources of the spreading of Christianity, and I’m quite sure that my humble offerings would never be included in The Bible, Part II!
But I do believe that God sees me as a modern-day Paul, and you know what? I see me that way too. And if nothing else, my belief explains everything.
It explains why I love to write and speak about God. It explains why enough is never enough. It explains why my life is an open book for all to see, and why I’ll share even my darkest secrets if doing so will help others. It explains why my love for God and for Jesus has blinded me to everything else. It explains why I don’t really care what others think of me, or the consequences of being so bold about my faith.
It explains why I’m a freak, and for the first time, I’m really okay with that. You see, for the first time in my life, what I’m wearing on the outside is exactly what I’m feeling on the inside, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
So, when God looks at you, what does He see?