Do you have your own Hogwarts house? I don’t mean which of the 4 houses brilliantly imagined by J.K. Rowling for the Harry Potter** series do you think you would fit in, but do you have your OWN house?
Perhaps you should.
My family and I are big Harry Potter fans. Last summer during our vacation we finished up our 2-year adventure of listening to the entire series of audiobooks on long car rides (having already read them in print, of course). Then we visited the Pottermore website, created accounts, completed the online quizzes, were “sorted” into houses, and determined where our supposed loyalties should be.
According to Pottermore, my house is Ravenclaw – home of intelligent, creative, wise wizards. My patronus (spirit animal) is an otter (just like Hermione’s!), and my wand is Hawthorn Wood with a Unicorn hair core, 12 1/4” long and of quite bendy flexibility. I’m to use it with care and confidence, or it will create problems for me, as “hawthorn wands, which are complex and intriguing in their natures, [are] just like their owners who best suit them.”
I took this all in stride and my family hasn’t really pinned these descriptors to me, probably because we all know it’s just in good fun, plus – I had made a declaration months before.
In dinner-table conversation one night, everyone was busy trying to choose houses for one another when I announced, “I’m in my own house.”
“What do you mean?” they asked. So I explained.
“My house is called Dinglepouf, and it’s a very small house. Just for me.”
I was pressed for details…so I fashioned them on the spot.
“My colors are pink and green and my symbol? The Cockatoo. Because I think they’re cute and hilarious…all that hopping up and down with feathers puffed atop their heads.”
This was met with incredulous amazement. And laughter. But it was quickly accepted as family fact, and no one questioned me further.
And how could you? There’s only one member of my house, and so any of her qualities are those of the house as well. In general, she is sensitive, inquisitive, and a seeker of knowledge. She’s devoted to the people and pursuits of her heart, soft-spoken, and a lifelong daydreamer who still laughs at silly puns and other forms of low humor. People have often told her she’s sweet, but those closest to her know she can be mean, and that she outrageously stubborn.
And – she likes her own space. Hence, her own house.
Imaginary lives are entertaining. But we know where to draw the lines.
My 13-year old daughter enjoys playing online quizzes. She likes to see which celebrity’s style she supposedly matches, car she should drive, city she might prefer, or animal she would be if she were to miraculously transform.
And she likes me to play along. Sometimes, I do.
“Mom,” she said recently as she pointed to one such quiz on her iPad. “What do you really want from your life? Fame? Money? Power? or Other?”
“Other,” I answered.
“What do you mean?”
“What I really want is for my kids to grow up and have a close relationship with God.”
Her face crinkled, eyebrows pinched in the middle.
“But this is about YOU. What do you want?” she asked again.
“To live forever with God.”
She smiled and shook her head.
“Mom! You’re no fun!”
She was laughing and I knew she wanted me to be more accommodating to the quiz.
“I know. My answers don’t fit. But that’s often the way it is for me. I think differently.” I met her gaze, then added, “And that’s good.”
She nodded because she understood, chose ‘Other’ for me, and for the rest of the quiz I picked whatever sounded alright until I ended up being a blue aardvark or something at the end. It doesn’t matter.
What does matter is this: our kids are listening, and observing what we believe. About ourselves. About life. About where we find meaning and purpose.
It’s great to be a member of a “house” or a team – to find commonality and fellowship, to contribute our talents toward a greater cause, to be part of a unified effort – but each of us individually is worthy of celebration and we don’t need to be afraid to step apart.
I don’t want my daughter to pigeonhole herself. She CANNOT be pigeonholed. All of her traits, gifts, and talents are far too robust and varied for her to ever fit into just one category. It’s the way she was fantastically created. I don’t want her to be anyone but herself. Though I tell her this, I also have to lead by example.
In my adult life, I have been intrigued by personality-type frameworks such as the Myers-Briggs and the Enneagram, and I know that I am not alone. I recently enjoyed Reading People by Anne Bogel (Free on Kindle now!), a thoughtful overview of several of these popular frameworks, which can provide us with valuable insights on our inner lives and the ways we interact with others, especially those who seem so different from us. Knowing our “type” – be it an ENFJ, or a Number 2 with a 5 wing, etc. (see the book if that’s all goo to you) – can help us in our careers, marriages, parenting, and spiritual lives. These frameworks are more meaningful, grown-up versions of “type” quizzes.
BUT, even if we can be grouped because we are similar to others, we are still uniquely made by One Creator. No two people are even remotely the same.
I am uniquely created to fulfill God’s purpose for my life, just as you are uniquely created by Him for yours, and each of my kids are for theirs.
And my life’s purpose is to love and serve God – my maker and lover of my soul – in all the ways He calls me right here and now. On paper yours might be the same, but it will play out in countless different ways.
This is a process of discernment which basically boils down to asking Him on the daily: 1) Where do You want me to show love? 2) Where do You want me to give of my time, talents, and treasure?
It took me a long, long time to figure this out, but once I did, all my days – even the bad ones, all through my history of pushing Him away – made sense. In light of this calling, in the light of God’s unending love for me – a deep, unshakable joy welled up from within, and I am happy to share it with everyone – especially my kids.
When I tell them I have my own house or that I want to live forever with God, I’m not saying it’s not good to be part of a team.
I am saying – embrace the person God made you to be, and know that this world can’t pin you down. You were made to go far, far beyond it. You are unique. You are wonderfully made. You are beloved. Don’t you ever, ever forget it.
You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works! – Psalm 139:13-14
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