a false amalgamation.

individuality is so very culturally important to us here in the west, and for good reasoning. individuality helps us define who we ourselves are without outside influence, it keeps us accountable to our core and keeps us connected to our own unique thoughts, fears, and pursuits.

when we start amalgamating into another person, i.e. when we enter into a committed, lifelong, or in depth relationship we are willingly surrendering a piece of our own being and taking on a part of theirs. recently I have seen in my life pieces of people I have known before. whether it is something I said or something as surface as something I wore, i see a reflection of those people. this is not necessarily a bad thing, and this is not necessarily from just a husband/wife, girlfriend/boyfriend relationship. this merger could be someone in your vicinity such as a family members or deep meaningful friendships.

the problem lies when and where we began to lose ourselves inside the other person, it is one thing to place the worries, concerns, and wellbeing of the other person in front your own needs (which I believe is one aspect of the word “love”) but it is a complete mistake for us to believe that if we don’t conform to meet every physical, mental, and social needs of the other person then the relationship is doomed to failure. if a person is allured by you in the first place they enjoy the company that they currently participate in, they are not looking to change you for their enjoyment in the future.

'man's love is of man's life a part; it is a woman's whole existence. In her first passion, a woman loves her lover, in all the others all she loves is love.' -lord byron

byron eludes to the fact that it is the woman's whole exsistence, but i believe that this can work both ways; as i have fell victim to making someone my entire exsistence to the point she began to take over the time that i knew i should have been giving my friends and family. soon i comprimised so much, including my pursuit of God as apriorities in life began to take second place. with an insecure foundation and comprimise as a staple and mantra of the relationship after one and a half years it crumbled into its inevitable pieces.

to be honest I see this incorporation much to often. i am simply asking that you do not lose the core, the foundation, and the beliefs of who you once were. relationships are amazing, you can learn so much from each and every human being you encounter, but be careful that you do not become that other human being. be who you are.


Book of James said…
I have found myself growing up, too willing to give away my soul and also to accept responsibility for directing another soul.

In neither circumstance did I find the fulfilment that I have now.

Thanks for taking us along this journey of yours. It seems even more sacred and special to be able to read someone elses journal/diary as it is written and comment.

Anonymous said…
Yesterday in church the pastor talked about many things, but one of the things he pointed out was about how we are easily molded by the people who are close to us, and how we need to be careful and choose our friends wisely.
I was in public school for quite a few years. I'm homeschooled now. When I reflect on what kinds of things I was into, I see that most of it was influened by my peers and my friends. I listened to the same music as everyone else, wore the same clothes, and talked how everyone else talked. Now that I'm out of public school I have been able to figure out more of who I really am and discover my own individuality.
Katie said…
I used to live in my best friend's shadow, her opinion drove everything I did. We've drifted away but sometimes I still think of what her opinion would be of the music I listen to or the clothes I wear. But then right after thinking that, I enjoy the freedom I have to decide what I enjoy.
Anonymous said…
oh yes,

this is good.

i have seen AND done this, too

in a couple different kinds of relationships.

It starts with wanting to put the other person first and ends with having no boundaries or independent existences.


it can also be called emeshment--in which one or both people lose their identity as a an individual b/c they are so connected as a pair or whole (in the case of families)

emeshment is not the same as unity

emeshment does not leave room for the individual to be respected and loved for being individual within the unity of a group.

thank you for your thoughts on this
i understand now in the stage of life i'm at--then i ever would have before.

i didn't think it would happen to me, but it can be very sneaky....

*to be who we are, we most know who we are

that is a good thing to think about in terms of all our relationships

Lindsay Caitlin said…
So very true.

I fell victim to this with my last relationship. We had a strong bond and through many trials we made it to the 1 1/2 year mark. But like you said, I began to lose myself. I lost my individuality. I no longer did things by myself, for myself. It was the both of us for each other. I lost my independence against my will. I certainly was not ready for that and therefore that relationship ended and the search for myself began.

I've now found me. I'm independent again. And I've learned not to let people take who I am for themselves. Or change who I am for someone else. No one is worth that. Like you said, no matter what kind of attraction, they were attracted to you because of who you were. Not who they thought they could make you become.
Kimberly said…
you don't know how much i needed to hear this, the perfect timing of it.

i'm seeing the same things in my own life.

i find myself wondering if i'm being selfish by not putting someone else that i love in front of me; however, i'm hurting myself by doing so. it's a rather complicated situation.

but now i'm slowly realizing that loving myself doesn't mean i don't love someone else just as much... and if they can't see that, it's their own insecurity issue.
This is the reason that God sometimes separates us from the people we love. It's hard to see why at the time and it's easy to get angry with God for allowing such a separation to occur, but most people will see the purpose later on.

My best friend and I had a sort of falling out within the last 6 months. We have always been really close, this guy is like my brother and I would have been willing to take a bullet for him. We both got into relationships around the same time, but I made sure I wasn't going to let my relationship with a girlfriend interfere with my relationship with my best friend. He didn't have the same plan. Although we live together at school, I started to see less and less of him on the weekends and started talking to him less and less during the week. It hurt for a long time to think that this person I've been so close to for so long in my life just didn't care that we were growing distant. I spent nights awake praying and days just hurting from this.

Then one day, I realized that God was doing this for a purpose. For the past couple years, I had been worrying more about my relationship with my friend than my relationship with God. After that realization, it didn't hurt so much.

Now I feel like I'm getting to a better place in my relationship with God and now my relationship with my best friend is beginning to heal.
Antoinette said…
I remember a discussion in my journalism class last year about how nobody can ever be a 'true' individualist because no matter what, you're always going to be like someone else in some way. But of course there is a point where it's just too much. But anyway, I've had a lot of relationships where I seem to sacrifice myself for other people, even right now. Like, I'm so different from most of my friends; and sometimes I feel like I should just do some of the things they like to do to have more in common with them and have stronger friendships, and hope that I'll eventually learn to love doing those things they like. But it is our differences that make things interesting, and I'm sure if we were all exactly hthe same we would probably get tired of each other.
Julia said…
Thanks Steven!

If you knew exactly what I was doing earlier today you'd know how insightful your words were to me today! I believe in timing because a true factor in one's ability to ingest certain information and when it comes at that right time from an unexpected source-- well it caught me off gaurd and spoke to my heart.

Thanks again- J
Sarah Noel said…
I think I wrote about this a little while back, as its something I feel pretty strongly about. Well said Stephen. I'm glad you addressed this- people need to hear it. Which works out well because people actually read this :)
Micah Taylor said…
somehow you always seem to write on exactly what is going on in my life at the time. this means a lot to me and you put into words what my life has been teaching me in the past few months.

Paul even goes so far a to say in Corinthians that it is good for a man not to be in a relationship at times to focus more on God. To go further into what he says I think it's often important to be reclusive and reflect on who you have become and suspend your life from all relations to evaluate them with the focus you are putting on God.

Something else that I have learned about all of this lately. I am often criticized by the more lofty Christians of hanging out with "the wrong crowd," but Jesus ate with the prostitutes and thieves and said "it is not the healthy that need a physician." But I do have to constantly check myself that I am the one making an impact on them and not vice versa. That is a daily challenge.
Rachel said…
It's interesting to see how far we go to be accepted isn't it? We seem to forget that our little quirks are what draw people to us in the first place. And yet, once those people are drawn in, we usually think that we need to be a 'better' version of ourselves to keep them.

That makes me all the more thankful that no matter how far I deviate from myself, God can still see through it.
Amirah said…
what you just wrote is explicitly true. yet, somehow, it's tremendously difficult for it not to happen.

i guess this is just one of the things that people will have to go through and emerge out of, in order to see the wrong in it.
thanks for the encouragement....
i needed this, right now....more than ever.
im struggling.
at work.
at college.
with relationships.

im going to try and take your advice.

thank you so much.
themockingbyrd said…
Thank you for your insightful words.

I've been noticing a similar and perhaps interconnected phenomenon, that people are far more prone to this sort of enmeshed and entangled dependance on a first relationship, but that there's a sort of unnified independence that's far healthier than the "hold nothing back" mentality that leads to people being too committed in the early going of a relationship and finding themselves in the position you describe.

Thank you again. I don't know that this one is specifically applicable to my life at present, but I'm sure that, tucked away for a later date, it will prove invaluable.
Anonymous said…
I went to school in boston and had friends from a variety of colleges there. it was one of the most impromtu, random, fun, loving group of people I have ever been a part of. one of the hardest things to do was to leave them. I spent every waking moment with these people, my "boston family." and the thought of separation was tough. What's been exciting is seeing how I've grown in the 3 months since I left. I have changed - but I've also retained the good influences they had on me. The quirky things one of us would do which suddenly became infused into everyone's daily activities and it's like they're with me still sometimes. it's important to retain independence, but there's also something beautiful about loving someone (or someones) so much they part of them infuses you.
-emily grace
Daniel said…
This brings to mind Paul and his image of The Church as "The Body"...each individual identity has to be maintained, or The Church as a whole loses part of its gift. Each of our unique identities speaks to God's creativity. The danger lies in going to the other extreme and becoming so individualistic that one's faith is lived out in a "It's me and Jesus and forget the rest of you" type mentality. When individual indentity is maintained in the context of community, we are all given the gift of sharing our perspective and yet learning from someone else.

Thanks for talking theology the other night in London. Our conversations always leave me with something to think about.

Laura Grace said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said…
All too often we see people giving way to one extreme or the other in "love"--Sharing nothing at all, or losing one's sense of self for the sake of acceptance. I find myself doing the second all the time because I am scared to death of being alone. But I'm not alone; we're not alone. It's a lesson that I'm slowly realizing: that it may be better to stand alone as myself than to be with somebody but be someone I'm not. Thanks for reiterating that.
Melanie said…
I needed something like that. Thank you.
Michelle said…
thank you :)
Cathy said…
Faith, Family, Love
The key is balance. The right relationship strengthens your faith and joins your family instead of pulling you away from it. But we need to be ready for the "right" relationship by working on ourselves first. Truly loving, encouraging relationships develop when we are ready to love and respect someone and add to that person's life, not take from it; AND when that person is ready to do the same.
tehillim said…
I've been running your words through my head for a couple of days now, and I see it. I myself typically have a difficult reconciliation between individualism [which I think has destroyed Western community/the Body in more Western societies for how it dictates self-servitude] and individuality [which can bravely speak of our own hearts above the roar of the crowd]. I'm still trying to find how the medium between the two operates in our system, in my own life.

I tend to have very flexible handwriting. I joke that I could commit a crime and leave a note; they'd never find me. I'd just never use that particular one again. Recently I've noticed that both parents, an aunt I rarely speak to, and my best friend are reflected in how I write certain letters sometimes. So I guess I see this as a small example of the larger operation; I truly believe we are who we hang out with to some degree. I think the tax collectors and whores that hung out with Jesus became as open to community as He is. I think my best friend has rubbed her encouraging and uplifting attitude on to me. I think my mom has rubbed off her impatience.

I don't yet have that hardcore romantic relationship that would demand any part, if not all, of me. But I agree with what you speak of love. And I see too often that friends just mold into who they think that person wants them to be. It never lasts after that.

Despite the fact I have just written a novel, there's nothing I can add to your advice. Be who you are. We're all in this together, we're all growing during the same days and weeks and months and years. All we can do about it is be there for each other.
tehillim said…
ps i had my learning theory final the other night; one question asked me what "amalgamation" meant. i don't know why. it wasn't on the study guide. but i'd checked it earlier to make sure i knew what you were talking about and that provided my review. so thanks for helping me get some more points on my final :)
Andrew said…
Very well said. Stuff like this has been running through my head recently. I think it's way too easy for us to lose ourselves to outside influences. I tell my friends that we, as people, have more influence on each other than we will ever understand. And our goal should be to use that influence for good.
sj. said…
very well written.
philip said…
sometimes i'm angry at god for wanting all my attention. not only does it seem realistic, but it's extremely unfair. i mean, the bible says that our love for others and ourselves should be like "hate" compared to our "love" for god. i don't see how this is truly possible. or maybe its so unfair and unrealistic that i'm not ready to embrace it.
elisabeth said…
This is so true. There have been times where I haven't even been in a relationship with someone, where I find myself trying to act and say in ways that I think would please them, that I forget who I really am and who I am living for. So thank you.
Anonymous said…
im glad this was posted, it has helped me out. this was exactly want i needed to hear from someone.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brightest said…
people lose themselves in relationships all the time, especially romantic ones. part of this could be due to our psychological needs. I am taking a marriage and intimacy class right now and we just discussed reiss's wheel theory of love. what reiss said was that love develops in stages ulitmately reaching the "need fullilment" stage. it's based on the idea that we "also need others to help us develop our sense of self and to validate who we are." (seccombe/warner, 2006).

there should be a gentle balance though, i agree that you should never put everything you have in to one relationship, especially a romantic one. i read a study the other day that said 58% of couples break up after four years. 58%! the odds are not in our favor.

some may view this next statement as pessimistic, but i view it as being rational. i think we should assume that eventually, most of our relationships will fail. i think if we remember that, it will be easier to keep ourselves individuals.

of course, i've never had a relationship or been in love, (which now i'm realzing is for the best)...so i'm just basing this on what i've read and studied. i could be completely wrong. okay...i'm stepping of my soap box now.

let's just cele brate who WE are. because i have a feeling we're all pretty wonderful.
Anonymous said…
You are who you hang out with. I think that it is completely true. Whether we are in a romantic relationship or a friendship, part of us changes to be more accepted by the other person.

Why is it so hard for us to just be who we are? Why can't people just accept us for who we are? Why can't we just accept people for who they are?

The one person we should strive to be like in every way is God. He accepts everyone no matter what. Instead we shrug Him off and look to our peers to tell us who we are.

I think just about every person has done this at one point in their life. Some more extreme than others though. I know this has all been rambling, but it is something that needs to be realized and changed.

Thanks for posting this Stephen. You look for the important things in life and by admitting that you stuggle with them too, helps others at least discuss them and lead to possible change.

Anonymous said…
I’ve been tossing around thoughts similar to this in my head as of late. I’m in college, 12 hours away from some of my best friends. We’ve been distanced for months on end, and it’s perfectly feasible that changes have been made… both upon the surface and deeper within. Part of me expects us to resume the same lifestyles and be pretty chill . . . like life was put on pause and now I’m returning to the show. I know that there are much bigger things to a friendship, and can only hope these little changes won’t be too detrimental to what we have, especially if God is our core and foundation… but it’s intriguing to think about how all this comes to be. It’s interesting to try and individualize the multitude of influences in our lives, and to the point of which we decipher it being constructive or problematic. Somehow I can’t help but focus on the beauty to relish in that we have had such great times when together, and they’ll never be the same again…and maybe we’ll drift and go our own ways, but the influences are honored; future ones are as innumerable as the past and present, and we’ve yet to experience bigger and better things. Thanks for sharing; I really enjoy taking your thoughts to thought. :] Keep on keepin’ on.

lizzy said…
so true. my very first relationship, when i was 14, was with a boy i loved so "unselfishly" that he almost destroyed me. not that he noticed. your observation about love being a woman's whole world was accurate in that instance [though i wouldn't say it is now] and this boy took full advantage of it. he was and is a very insecure person.

it still seems amazing and wonderful to me that God literally yanked me out of his life and set me on my own feet.
kaila said…

I've noticed that when I really like a guy I start to like the things he does even if I never used to like them before, dislike the things he does even if it's something I enjoyed all of my life. I pick up on things he does, says, etc. Not to mention I would NEVER say anything that might contradict him.

I look back in disgust. I guess everyone at a young age does that, but I am able to move past that. Of course the small influential things are inevitable. But I think that's what make relationships special and grow you together, as long as you;'re staying true to yourself.
Yvonne said…
ugh, don't you think byron's comment is rather sexist???
He's saying that for women, love is her whole life, while for a man, it's just a part?
Joylynn said…
It's hard though, to not be like who you're around.
It's a strange concept really, I have a friend who's strong, very opinionated, very feminine, but she's tough. (Like the kind of I-Beat-Up-Boys sort of thing)
I just think she's amazing. She's been ridiculed, judged, condemmened, basiclly they don't see who she really is, and what she can actually do.
The thing about her that moves me is the fact that she just gets up, and walks on...having so much faith that our Father God can bring her through.
I love that.
She's an example of life, and it inspires me to just be something like that. Only if she ever heard me say such thing she'd tell me, "You don't want to go through what I've been through."
And she's right, but it's a strange concept, acting like your best friend.
I hate that. Cause I love her just the way she is, no one can copy that. (so why should I?)
She inspires me to be a better person, and I love her for it.
But in reality, it's just hard to not be like someone you really admire.
(I still keep it real, but it's kind of hard.)

Much Love to You,
John said…
God tends to smash idols,

Relationships are intoxicating, but I think a proper understanding of who we are will always put ourselves(and others) in the right place.

I think its interesting that our concept of God will mold our entire being.

Individuality, is one of the most beautiful gifts we have been given, it would be a shame to waste it.
Anonymous said…
i have to be honest stephen, i needed to look up the word "amalgamation". i felt a little foolish, but i knew i needed to know this word in order to capture the essence of what you were saying. plus, i Love learning new words and expanding my vocabulary ((i don*t know if i could use that word without tripping over myself, though)).

anyway, all that to say that this really challenged and blessed me, as a lot of what you write does. you have a beautiful heart.

laurafee said…
"if a person is allured by you in the first place they enjoy the company that they currently participate in, they are not looking to change you for their enjoyment in the future."

this is so true. i back that statement up 100%. it just seems so inevitable though to become more and more like the person you spend the majority of your time with. think of most of the married couples you know. don't they become more and more like each other each year? people even begin to look alike over time. after you change though, it is interesting to think back to what you were before you met the person. sometimes you change for good, and sometimes you change for bad. it is important though to not change yourself FOR someone else. that is crucial.

"relationships are amazing, you can learn so much from each and every human being you encounter, but be careful that you do not become that other human being. be who you are."

again, beautifully stated. i really love your thoughts... i wish you would post more often :) God did not create us, each and every one of us, completely different just so that we could try to become more like each other. the only way that could possibly lead to betterment is if we are all becoming more and more like Jesus. if that makes us all become like each other, well, i think i am ok with that :-D
laurafee said…
"Individuality, is one of the most beautiful gifts we have been given, it would be a shame to waste it."

well stated John... well stated.
Richard said…
you should seriously, seriously consider reading After Theory by Terry Eagleton. If I could only tell you one thing again, I'd chance that it might be just that. If you actually do, don't worry about not knowing the pretentious theorist's names (unless you are, of course, already familiar with them.) Best wishes.
Anonymous said…
" God tends to smash idols."

Oh...and I should thank Him for that everyday. If I was not so jealously loved, I would have destroyed myself..if left to myself. We have that tendency. He has all the wisdom that we can walk in.

I don't ever want a relationship to become an idol.

I want to run my own race with passion and focus and clarity of the goal. I trust that at some point if I am headed in the right direction, I will find another person at some point right beside me, running at the same pace and in the same direction...

I will not have made him my goal, but will have found him almost happenstance along the way.

The best route to happiness is the road carved out for me. I have to run with my flaming passions and let the light in my soul carry me on. I want to "run in the path of Your commands for You have set my heart free!"

I want to be me and be me with all my passionate heart. Then I won't be confused about who I am when I meet someone else on the road who is also running. I won't try to be them. I won't accidentally try to be like them. I will just be me.

I will just be me. And I will just love him for running right there beside me. I will just love him! And I will probably be amazed that there is even someone there... b/c I doubt I could have found him any other way....

We won't have to DO anything. We can just be who we are--where we are. Running together on the path of life--together with our eyes on the goal.

enjoying and carrying on.

two have a better reward for their work. and more fun at that.
Anonymous said…
be who you are. i think that's all that needs to be said.
Katrina Blank said…
before i leave behind modesty, i want to say thanks. because without this website, i'm not sure i would have ever dabbled in writing. i've been changed by the influence of another. mild amalagamtion (otherwise known as influence) isn't all that bad in my book.

and when comes to being who you are, i've learned that my identity is never in what i do, or what i accomplish (or don't accomplish), or in my posture to some other individual, but rather my identity is my relationship with Christ. to live is Christ.

Anonymous said…

I have been reading a few of your blogs from the previous years and have found the quotes and the knowledge you have assumed quite endearing. May I ask where you find these rare pearls of intriegue or are they too numerous places along your journey that you cannot point me to a specific source??

Please keep us enlightened with your passages of thought, feeling and lessons learnt, as you may be unaware of how many are pinnicle moments to your readers in everyday life.

You have much depth for such a young man, keep thriving in your search for truth and the matters of your heart.

Katie said…
Dear Stephen,
I know you're busy & getting ready for tour (or leaving?) I'm just curious what you've been thinking lately..
silverlite said…
i guess this kinda things happens on a really frequent basis. if you like a person, naturally, you admire something about him/her and so wanna model yourself after that person, taking on some of their personality traits or characteristics. it is impossible to form an individual identity without the influence of other people.

it is ironic that when everyone is so bent on formng their own individual and unique identities, there is already a kind of conformity there. i always beieve that you are who you are, no point changing just to be different or special. love yourself!

Margaret said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Meg-a-roni said…
I do agree with your comment, but wish that you would maybe go more into what it means to be an individual within a romantic relationship. It is sooooooo important to make sure that you really know yourself before you date someone (I know that we are never really going to be able to really know ourselves, but to at least have some foundation), because if you don't know yourself, you will fall prey into becoming like that person.

I know many people that have done this and have therefore never truly developed their own character. Some people I know have always had a boyfriend/girlfriend or been in some type of dating relationship. I think people now days think that if you aren't in a relationship, then you are not truly happy.

When I'm not in a relationship, these are the times that my character has been truly molded and shaped, making me the person I am today. I am more able to focus on loving many people and spreading my time sparingly, so others may benefit from God's love through me, therefore, defining my character to be more like Him.

I do think you can get to know yourself better through dating someone (sometimes it brings out the worst in you), but I know that being single allows yourself to become the real person God wants you to be (to focus completely on Him).
Anonymous said…

metaphors, parables, whatever the like, land in a place thats frequently accessible in ones mind. i like it.
Desiree said…
This is so true....even with someone you don't know. I know of people who have changed how they think and feel for complete strangers, being desperate for someone to love them, thinking that it would make that person do what they wanted. Kudos!
T!ffany said…
I think you're completely right here.
It's easy to become so close or involved with someone that you become withdrawn and just not quite. . . yourself somehow.
It has even more of an effect on me, seeing as I'm able to read into how that can happen to someone who I respect, so the advice of not molding into someone else seems even more valuable.

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