beavers, prodigal brothers and hope.

Line art drawing of a beaver.

Image via Wikipedia

Aren’t personality tests fun?  I’ve been an INTJ, explored the Big 5, and discovered my strengths include ‘learning’.  I’m an introspective, rationalizing, coordinating mastermind which kind of doesn’t sound good.  According to Ezekiel, I’m an eagle; according to Galen, I’m melancholic; according to Kretschmer, I’m insensitive.  Finally, according to Renovatus, I’m…a beaver.  This is definitely a first.  The leadership team here took a personality test that divided us into four different animals: lions, otters, golden retrievers and beavers.  You’ll have to ask each of the leaders what they came out to be but I will say this, there were some surprises.

I ran my results by Amy to discern the legitimacy of the outcome.  Sure enough, she said it mostly hit the nail on the head.  So here are some general highlights of a beaver:

  • Following procedures are a way of ensuring quality and orderly work; we can be depended upon to follow rules.
  • Beavers want to know the “rules” to follow them; they may become upset when others continually break the rules.
  • We follow policies (hence my frustration from the last post).
  • Objective and realistic.
  • Beavers prefer an environment dictated by logic rather than emotion.
  • Finally, beavers may have a low trust level of others.

The evening of the test, I picked up Henri Nouwen’s “The Return of the Prodigal Son“.  I’ve been slowly making my way through the book and it’s been a fantastic study of the parable.  However, it was when I came to the part on the elder son that it hit too close for comfort.  Here are some of Nouwen’s keen observations into the elder son’s life:

  • As the first born, he wanted to live up to the expectations of his parents and be considered obedient and dutiful.
  • He wanted to please his father.
  • He was obedient, dutiful, law-abiding, and hard-working.  But on the inside…
  • When confronted by his father’s joy at the return of his younger brother, a dark power erupts in him and boils to the surface.
  • Returning home from a lustful escapade seems so much easier than returning home from a cold anger that has rooted itself…

After some reading and contemplation I concluded that the elder son would probably have been a beaver.  It feels a little corny to compare my personality to that of a biblical character, especially one who was figurative.  Yet, this figurative character has somehow found a literal home in my life.  Nouwen brilliantly points out that this parable could just have aptly been titled, “The Prodigal Brothers.”  He says, “Not only did the younger son, who left home to look for freedom and happiness in a distant country, get lost, but the one who stayed home also became a lost man.”  What do beavers and prodigal brothers have in common?  They can build walls of resentment and unforgiveness.

So how does hope and redemption fit in to this narrative?  The parable is left open-ended for the listener and the rest of the family’s life is left for our interpretation and imagination; kind of like our own lives.  For us, the answer lies in the True Elder Son and the Father.  All we like sheep have gone astray; all we like the younger son have tasted lack and empty promise.  Nouwen finishes his observation of this ultimate predicament with these words: “…the disciplines of trust and gratitude reveal the God who searches for me, burning with desire to take away all my resentments and complaints and to let me sit at his side at the heavenly banquet.”  Hope for both the younger son and the elder son rests on the Beloved Son “on whom God’s favor resides.”

So what does all this mean?  I can be a happy beaver after all.

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3 thoughts on “beavers, prodigal brothers and hope.

  1. Pingback: all that’s beautiful is broken. « Spit and Mud

  2. Pingback: specificity and the tyranny of perfectionism. « Spit and Mud

  3. Pingback: Backroom Theology « Spit and Mud

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