This morning during the brief time I had available to be online, I managed to make a comment that was judged by someone as awkward. Because I am Facebook friends with two people I happen to know that are no longer married, I get to hear both sides of the story of their interactions with each other. Given this knowledge of both sides of the story, I queried if the plaintive call of “why,” from one of the two was related to some current legal issues. Though this may have been a rhetorical question, I could have made the question a lot more awkward had I so chosen to, but I was only mildly so. When this awkwardness was commented on, I replied that I was made this way, which made someone else comment about Lady Gaga.
Lady Gaga, of course, sang that she was “born this way.” This was done for a political reason–if you are born the way you are, you bear no responsibility for it, nor can anyone blame you for what you think and do in the mindset of some. When you are born a certain way, then either genetic or epigenetic causes are to blame (few people tend to think about epigenetics, which would imply that the actions of one’s forefathers could have an effect on their descendents without necessarily changing their genetic code, similar to the way that a mother who is a drug addict passes on that addiction on to her children). Most people tend to think that if their genes predispose them to particular conduct then they have no moral responsibility of any kind to resist that predisposition. I happen to disagree with this, but I do understand where others are coming from, when they fail to take ownership for what they do with what they have been given.
I did not say I was born this way, though. I said I was made this way. The meaning of this statement is considerably more ambiguous, and as is so often the case with what I say, the ambiguity is intentional. Like Lady Gaga’s similar statement, it has political implications (as is common with what I say as well). To be made is to be formed and shaped. One is made by a loving Creator who determines what gifts and quirks one will have from the womb for His purposes. One is also made and shaped by the course of one’s experiences, one’s nurturing, one’s background, and one’s own creative responsibility. And I mean all of these things when I say that I was made this way. Because I was not born this way–I was made this way through the interaction of my given nature formed in me by my Creator, my experiences and circumstances, and my own choices. As a creative person, I must take responsibility for what I do with what I have been given. Those of us who seek to mimic the creativity of our Creator will by virtue of that creativity declare our own responsibility for our creations, our need to own up to our art. And I have a lot of art to own up to, a responsibility that lays heavily on my slender shoulders.
Let us therefore remember that there exists in us a tension between our desire to justify ourselves and our desire to create and to own. Before we can own anything else, we must own our choices and our creations. After all, only that which we create can we ever really own. The fact that we are a creation is what allows our Creator to own us as well. If we are merely born, we are simply purposeless accidents, prisoners of our predetermined genetic codes, helpless to resist our fallen natures. If we are created, we were created by someone for purpose, with meaning, and that which we create we also own and are responsible for. And we cannot gain the thrill of ownership without owning the responsibility for it as well. And all too often we are torn between our desire to create, to make, and to own and our fear of the responsibility it brings. And if we own how we are, we can (with a lot of help!) get better. How long will we waver between two opinions and be double-minded in our ways and inconsistent in our claims? Let us own ourselves, and our choices, and make the best of what we have. If we were made this way, we can become better.