Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My Faith is Like a Game of Chicken



"The game of Chicken, also known as the Hawk-Dove or Snowdrift game, is an influential model of conflict for two players in game theory. The principle of the game is that while each player prefers not to yield to the other, the outcome where neither player yields is the worst possible one for both players."- Wikipedia


In church the priest reads the Gospel.

"Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." (Read it in context: John 20:19-31)

Oh, that St. Thomas. He was a cheeky one. Not going to believe the apostles saw Christ risen...wants gory proof...what a fool he is, I think, half smiling, not acknowledging the limp part of my face that refuses to gloat because it masks the side of my brain that knows that I have my Thomas moments too, over and over again. I'm Thomas sometimes, and other times I'm Peter, jumping out of the boat to greet the risen Christ standing on the shore, forgetting that I am such a horrible swimmer. Peter and Thomas, two complete opposites locked together in one mind, that's my Catholic faith. I don't know if I'll ever figure it all out, and I'm sure I'm not meant to.

A friend of mine did a team-building exercise at work using Dr. Taylor Hartman's book The People Code. Dr. Hartman categorizes people according to their dominant motives.

Red=Power
Blue=Intimacy
White=Peace
Yellow=Fun

I took the test and Dr. Hartman folded my whole person into a neat little blue box with white edges. I scored highest in Blue and second highest in White. That means I'm mostly a "sainted pit bull" with "highly complex behavior" who is "ruled by the heart" likes "security and autonomy simultaneously, has a tendency to reveal insecurities openly, asserts [her]self when necessary, is loyal, willing to deal with conflict on principle, intimidating, deeply intuitive, can be kind to a fault, too sensitive (verbally), a doer, an achiever, intense and impatient."

Hmm, this is the first personality test that makes me feel a bit naked. I think, overall, that is a pretty accurate summary. If I met Dr. Hartman I'd say I really don't like being put in a metaphorical box. I'd say the minute you think you have a person all figured out is the moment you have completely misunderstood him, or in my case, her. I bet he'd respond that I sound like a real Blue.

I wonder what color the apostles were. Imagine them doing corporate team building exercises. I bet Thomas would not like the Bible labeling him as a doubter. I'm sure he did have days of total unshaken faith that we don't read about. In this story, he doesn't answer Jesus, defending himself with something like, "Oh remember when we were all starving and I told the guys, just wait, Jesus is going to whip up some fish."

Thomas stays silent in the Gospel as I sit in my shiny, oak pew, feeling sorry for him. I think he's a total doubter, bad Christian. Of course I'm good, I've never met Jesus and I'm here in church. Oh, really? Can I get any more pathetic at this moment?

I know I'm as stubborn as Thomas. There are so many societal and relational influences that shake my faith. There are situations and harsh realities that leave me standing there feeling alone, doubting everything, mentally telling that small voice in my head that says "be sure it's all true" to shut up and look around at this messed up place where I have to exist. Excuse me, I mean this beautiful world. I get conflicted just like Thomas. I can be a real stubborn fool.

Take today for example, when I walked with my children past nesting geese even though neighbors warned me not to do it.
"Don't walk past there," said a nice elderly woman. "Trust me, the male will attack. He did it yesterday."

"Oh, thanks for the warning. I still haven't started dinner, so if he tries to bite the kids I'll make a nice roaster out of him," I answered. The neighbor did not laugh. Her eyes widened and she parked her car in such a way so that she could stalk me.

The forth time passing the crazy male goose stepped off the grass and into the road, his beak wide open like a dead shellfish, coral tongue flailing impressively. He charged at my wagon full of children, so I dropped the handle and ran straight towards him, shouting "Hey, hEY, HEY!" The goose and I had a face-off as the neighbor peered at me from her car, shaking her head disapprovingly and mouthing I-told-you-sos.

I won in the first round. The bird marched away from me, regally, like the better creature for ultimately turning the other cheek.

Then I finished my walk, ending at the bus stop to wait for Big Brother. The neighbor slowed down in front of me as I sat on the curb and leaned out of her window, scowling. I thought I might have to get up and run towards her car shouting, "Hey, hEY, HEY!"

Jesus said,"Blessed are they who have not seen, and have believed."
Some people think they have me all figured out; they tell me so, in fact. How can this be when I don't even understand me? How can this be when I can't change my Blue self into a Yellow because "girls just wanna to have fun?" I think that only God really understands each of us, and that is why He's the only one who really knows how to love unconditionally. I find it very hard to get a grip on faith, but I keep asking for grace in prayer. Maybe I'll be blessed over and over, even after I fail at patiently, trusting what I can not see, and that stubborn part of me needs to win. Tomorrow I can try again to listen to that small voice stalking me in my head.

Picture is Doubting Thomas, by Caravaggio.

Learn more about Hartman's People Code.

1 comment:

Putz said...

i have a lot of yellow in me, absoluetely no red, and a kind of receding blue which means i am if not ashamed by my blue at least not willing to recognize it for what it is and white doesn't show up unless i am out of my comfort zone>>>a pretty mixed up putz

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