Thursday, November 01, 2012

To thine own self, let grace be sufficient...

Are there things that you will go 100 miles out of your way to avoid?
Not things like rattle snakes or zombies.  Things like conflict, confrontation, difficult conversations or even apologising.  I do.  I am a gold medal avoidist.  I'm sure that's part and parcel of being an introvert.  Being around others for happy stuff is draining, negative stuff makes me want to crawl up my chimney to hide.
The Mr. is a conflict avoider.  Shew, is he ever!  He's so anti-conflict that after the dust settles and you ask him if he's glad that he finally dealt with something, he'll say no.  He still wishes he could've avoided the unpleasantness.  Lots of people say that's a wonderful trait.  But you wanna know a secret?  It isn't.
Nor is my avoidism. 
If you are nonconfrontational because you have a peace-keeper's heart and that is what God has called you to do, to still troubled waters around you, that's different. In fact, that isn't really avoid, it's taking control by restoring order.  But when we avoid because we are afraid, that's not good.  No action (or lack thereof) motivated by fear comes from God. 
So how do we manage ourselves or people in our lives who are stuck in the deep muck of avoiding difficult stuff?  One classic coping tool is to ask one's self, "what's the worst thing that could happen?"  Maybe that will work for you.  I think more often, what we are truly afraid of is whether we will be able to manage the emotions of the moment.  Perhaps we're unsure of our own capabilities to take control of something important.  Sometimes we fear that once drawn into a situation, we'll have to make choices that will disappoint or anger others.
Are you afraid that the worst thing that could happen is that your advice will fail?  Your confrontation will spark a war?  You'll lose your temper, cry or become tongue-tied?  The other person will become angry and stop loving you?
I've done a lot of self examination over the past few years as I've stopped warring against the me that God created and embraced the me that is introverted.  I've realized that some of the experiences that are hard on introverts cause a feeling much like offendedness or anger when others don't catch my more subtle requests for space.  Yet, how to be true to myself and not fall into the trap of avoiding because of fear?
In the words of Shakespeare, "to thine own self be true."
You see, my friend,  God created you very specifically.  Weakness and strength in balance.  I'm not talking about self-centeredness.  That's not being true to one's self at all.  It's that you know the truth of who you are, the truth that God spoke into your soul. 
If you are at all like me, you'll have to ask Christ to introduce you to that soul that he created because from the first breath we take, the world tries to grab us and mold us into something that is universally understandable and comfortable to the majority.  Which really flies in the face of the way our Creator does things!  So I had to spend lots of time talking to the Lord and letting him show me the parts of me that I kept tucking away.  Basically, I spent a lot of years trying to avoid being weird.  Turns out, God gave me an exceptional amount of weird. 
Back to the avoiding issue.  Now that I know myself better, it's my responsibility to submit my self before my God.  When the traits of my personality trigger unGodly responses, I need to seek the Holy Spirit to remake me in the image of Jesus. 
But, do you want to know the most powerful thing I've learned?  That more of me is ok than I had previously thought!  I just need to know and understand myself well enough to explain my needs and weaknesses and how I work my way through life.  An example?  When the Mr.'s parents lived here, their home felt like chaos to me.  I thrive on a different kind of environment.  So I explained myself to Dean.  I can go spend hours with you and your mom and dad but it will wear me out. I won't feel like going out to dinner later, and fair warning...I'll be grouchy. I will be able to maintain control but I'll need to come home and be by myself with a book for the rest of the night.  OR I can stay behind and let my spirit and mind rest and fill up on the things God made me needful of.  And when Dean got home, I'd be calm and relaxed and ready for an evening out...and grateful for being understood and accepted.
He always chose the second option.  Not just out of kindness for me, but because he really likes going out to dinner and a movie on the weekend so we both got what we wanted. 
Does any of this make sense?
Figure out what you avoid.  Ask God to introduce you to yourself.  Submit all of the parts of yourself to the Holy Spirit.  Acknowledge that God loves you and it gives him pleasure when you learn the truth about yourself.  Be able to explain yourself to others and hold yourself accountable not to excuse bad behavior with the Popeye Protocol (I yam what I yam!)

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9,10


Elizabeth said...

I think this may have been just for me today! Thanks for sharing!

Jada's Gigi said...

I yam what i yam is never an excuse...our old man was born needing to be molded into the image of Christ...its hard work learning who we our natural state and in Christ...those two usually need a lot of the Holy Spirit to work together successfully...but he is able to keep that which has been committed to Him, Thank Goodness!