And truly, much of these descriptions (especially that Type 5 thing) fit me really well. I dig deep….really deep…sometimes too deep, and I strongly desire to know and understand and then emote based on this. But God has placed me in a ministry that calls on my empathy and a rather deep well of emotion that I often pretend not to possess. He has called me to participate in the pain of others by offering freely the plumbed depths of my own pain. By offering the insights that I glean from everyday interactions, meditated thoughts, and by a gift He has given me to see into things…through things…around them. So often, just to SEE where others seem not to pay attention.
But once upon a time, not long ago, I wanted desperately to be only logical, only rational, only thinking. I did not want to feel or care or take part in the world as an active participant. I longed for the chains of my own mind and my own judgments and my extreme prejudice against anything that sought to draw me out of myself. I scoffed. I was sullen. I hurt others because I wanted to so bad to be right. To be always right. To be defined by my intellect. To be called smart…the smartest really. And I used my particular affinity for words to accomplish that task. I manipulated, cajoled, mocked, and disrespected others in order to always be in charge. On top. Invulnerable.
This period of my life spanned about four years, from the age of 22-26. During this time, I stumbled into a career working with people (which I had always believed was not my strong suit), particularly families in various states of crisis. Ultimately, to step in and manage their lives through their crisis. Sound ridiculous to anyone? Well, on one level it is, because, as I learned during my stint in this field, it is impossible to effect change in a person when you want more for them than they want for themselves. On another level though, it is a job that produced many rewards, much of which I could not see at the time, and some of which I am never likely to grasp this side of heaven.
During that time, I don’t think I was the nicest person. Okay…I know I wasn’t. The things I said about people…the ways I thought about people…even some of the things I had to do to people…sometimes, it wells up in my chest and makes it a little hard to breath. When the Lord stretched out His hand to me with grace and mercy and brought light into the darkest areas of my heart, it was one of my hardest sins to admit. How badly I had hurt these people in their time of great need because it was “my job.”
Which of course, was the lie I told myself because I didn’t want it to just be that I didn’t know how to love them. I didn’t know what it meant to stand in the gap and show them my own hurt and my own struggle and my own pain. I didn’t know how to show them the truth and keep the personal from crossing the line into the professional. I fell for the lie that my temporary reality was more important than their eternal one.
I didn’t know how to tell them that I had no power over them. No power to save them. No power to rescue them. No power to change them. But that I knew Someone who did. That He had saved me. That He rescued me. That He changed me. So I would wait…for them to figure it out for themselves? I don’t know. For them to suddenly have all the answers? Probably. But in my waiting, I learned a lesson. Love makes all the difference in the world.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.–1 Corinthians 13:1 (ESV)
In one of my absolute worst moments, one of my worst days, and in the midst of one of my biggest regrets, I learned that I don’t always have the luxury of waiting.
We can’t always wait.
Sometimes, they’ll die while we wait.
If I don’t ache and yearn and prioritize to tell the world about the depths of love in Jesus Christ, then I am not following His most basic command. Go…tell…GO AND TELL….There was no WAITING in His command. No “when the time is right.” No “what if it is inconvenient.” No “not if you’re scared.” There is a call to go and tell…to show them that it breaks down to loving God and loving others.
And I’ll admit it…even right now, I struggle to make this a reality in my own life. In some areas, I know how to speak the Gospel. In other areas, I am intimidated by the possible momentary consequences. So I write this to myself even more than I write it to you, dear friend.
God saw fit (praise Him) to make me vulnerable. To use that sarcastic streak perfected in my time without Him into a deliberately and unflinchingly honest streak. And I try to be honest without being cruel or mean or wisecracking. I try to tell the truth with love. I am learning to wait…to hold my tongue…to critique and judge my own words and motivations before attempting to foist my observations and intuitions on others. But, I’m also learning what it means to be bold. About the work Christ has done in me and the hope He offers to others.
I offer this hope to you. Do you know that despite you (good, bad, and ugly), Jesus came to this earth, died for you (your good, bad, and ugly), and offers Himself to you, if you will believe in Him? Do you know that He lived a perfect life because He knew we never could? Do you know that He is the only way for you to have eternally joy, not just temporary, earthly happiness? Do you know that He loves you without reservation and wants you to believe that? Wants you to believe that He loves you? That He died for you? That you need Him because you aren’t perfect and He is? If not, I pray that He would lead you to someone, even me, that could walk the path to His arms beside you, pointing the way and letting Him do His great and wonderful work in you, starting right now. He died so you could live, and He lives now ready for you to see the truth. To see Him.
We can’t always wait.