Wanna take a test that tells you about your personality? Your ideal career? Which color you represent? What Starbucks drink you are a living version of? Um…Yes! I do! (I don’t always post it because I don’t want to be “that girl” but I definitely take them.) Lately, I have been just obsessed with personality tests, spiritual gifts tests, and learning about how different people are wired and I have finally discovered why that is: At the age of 38, I am finally discovering who I am. (I know…it’s weird…especially for someone as introspective as I can be.) I have always been a chameleon and have been able to adapt to where I am, who I am with, and what’s going on around me. (I even wrote about this before on 8/14/14.) The new thing I’m learning, though, is that I have been such a good chameleon for so long, that I didn’t really know where I resided…where my neutral exists…where my feelings and tendencies call home. So, I have been spending some time learning and feeling and talking to God about who he made me to be…and I have found that I have spouted lots of things about myself that simply aren’t true for me but have been true for adaptations that I have made in different scenarios.
One example is in my family of origin. In our household (and in every household) there is an identity…something that defines the people in it. (One thing about being the youngest child is that your family identity is frequently already established when you arrive on the scene.) In the Vinson house, we were followers of Jesus, people who were comfortable with logic and uncomfortable with feelings, patriots, people who do not know how to do conflict well (I refer to us as a “warring people”), there was a strong sense of independence, and our house was run in a patriarchal manner. As a chameleon, I adapted to all of this well. The problem? I didn’t take the time, until recently, to figure out my own stance on each of these items…I adopted the values that were given to me. Turns out I agree with much of it but there are some things I don’t agree with. For instance, I still like logic but, as it turns out, I am a rather emotional person even though I have detested that about myself and tried to squash it for years. I am independent and capable but I am relational to the extreme so pure independence and poor conflict skills just don’t fly for me (because words really, REALLY matter to me.)
Not knowing myself has been a problem for me because it has made everything work…there was no neutral for me to rest in…nothing has ever truly felt like home for me. For example, I have believed for years that I was type A…turns out that I am not at all…I simply start bringing order and logic to things when I feel emotional because I don’t trust the emotions and I need to do something with the nervous energy. (I could always be found cleaning when I was angry or sad or anxious. The more pleasant my feelings, the worse my house looks so not cleaning my house for people when they are coming over is actually a sign that I am comfortable with them…I know…I’m weird.)
Also, my relationships have been affected by not knowing myself. For example, I didn’t trust emotions and avoided them at all cost in myself and others. I have been told that I was closed off (which I dismissed because I thought “I share my stuff with the whole stinking world and have no concept of what is or isn’t appropriate to share. There is no way that I am closed off.”) Now, I think that maybe she was picking up on my chameleon nature and was thinking that I was being intentionally false. And maybe I was…
Finally, my relationship with God has been affected by not knowing myself. It is hard to have an appreciation for your creator and his work in you when you don’t really get what that looks like because you don’t know what “you” look like. I have even been mad at God, in the past, for giving me gifts and passions in areas I don’t like because they require a lot of feeling and sensing and other stuff that can’t be precisely measured. This touchy-feely stuff has been unknown, uncomfortable, and slightly chaotic in my brain up until now.
As always, I am coming to the question you are always asking with me: What is the point??? Well, I guess it is several but all of them come out of spending some quiet time reflecting and getting painfully real with myself. So this is what I have come up with:
1. Rest doesn’t come to anyone who is constantly performing.
2. It is hard (if not impossible) to understand what you are designed by God to know about God if you don’t know who you are. This world is a mystery and you are the only one who can get the whole truth about yourself. Knowing truth teaches us about Jesus (the way, the TRUTH, and the life.) If you don’t learn the truth you are meant to learn about him, the rest of us can’t learn that from you and we miss out.
3. It is difficult to use your giftedness to the best of your ability if you don’t know what that giftedness and ability look like.
4. Empathy is beautiful and rare and I postulate that, part of the reason why, is because people don’t know themselves so they can’t really “get” others. It sure is hard to minister to people in effective, bone-deep ways if we can’t understand their hurts and needs through empathy.
5. I further postulate that we develop coping mechanisms that could point us to some things about ourselves that we don’t understand. For example, I apparently “have no filter.” Could it be that my tendency to share everything has been an attempt to be transparent with you all when I didn’t know how to be transparent with myself? When others tell me things about myself, I am more-able to hear it and recognize it. (My heart in writing has been about speaking truth and encouraging others…but, in doing this, I have learned more about myself along the way.)
So, how are you doing with this? Do you know who you are? I mean really know? Are your tendencies more developed from who God made you to be or more from your circumstances? If you don’t know or think it is more from your circumstances, try answering some of these statements: God blessed me when he gave me this character trait: __________. The most fulfilling way I know to help others is to __________ because it makes me feel _________. The greatest compliment someone could give me would be to say __________. The three things that make me feel the most alive and free are ____________________. (And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 NLT))
My prayer this morning is that something in this would resonate with you…that you would look at the beautiful creation you are and…not be disappointed…but delight in what God has done in you. (You may see things you want to work on, and that is ok…just don’t try to change who you are because I think that lying about God’s work is an affront to him.) I am praying that we would allow ourselves the time and resources we need to investigate ourselves for the purpose of living out truth…not some “version of the truth”…but the real truth so that we can better see our real God. Much love friends,