I know that it isn’t really ‘vogue’ to focus on our flaws anymore. We live in a very strength based culture nowadays which actually is pretty counter cultural to the way I grew up in. However, as I sit here tonight looking at a blog I haven’t written in in months, I felt pretty challenged to write something about my flaws. I’m not perfect; we all aren’t and to an extent, I accept that. However, I’m beginning to see my flaws as the way in which I fail to be more Christ like which all Christians, myself included, aspire to be more like.
[Side note: before you (may) disregard this because you don’t believe in this particular faith, think about the characteristics Christ has been associated with…are there any characteristics that you think are actually ‘bad’? ]
For myself, it’s specifically with regards to gentleness. When I think of gentle, I think about being emotionally aware and being able to respond in a way that isn’t emotionally hurtful. For those who know me, I don’t think they would describe me as gentle. It doesn’t come naturally. My affection for others is rarely expressed by being gentle or even truly empathetic. I think to a certain extent, I brush this off with understanding that my natural disposition (according to Myers-Briggs) isn’t as a ‘feeler’ but as a ‘thinker’. Let’s just say I scored very far on the ‘thinker’ side. But brushing it off doesn’t do me really any good. Actually, by failing to understand my own emotions, the emotions of others and how to respond and be emotionally supportive places limitations on my relationships. I’ve been very fortunate to be in a relationship with Jon who is most definitely more of a ‘feeler’ than I am. I see how my lack of gentleness affects our relationship and how it hurts him when it emerges. What’s more though is how I see him respond to it – he forgives me. Jon accepts my flaws – note that his response is not the equivalent of accepting a failure to address them or the fact that said flaw leads to particular responses but he doesn’t crucify me for it. The reality is that I do deserve to be crucified for it; for this and all those other negative things I think about and do. They are due to the sinful, man nature of me that that isn’t Christ like but the crazy thing is, Christ was crucified for this sinful nature that has occurred and is to come. He died for me for times like this, in times when I don’t deserve it.
Today, I heard a sermon about Jesus in his role as shepherd. I had the best image of me as a sheep; I was a round, grey, fluffy but most definitely stinky and pretty airhead-like…anyways one of the things that have stuck out the most is the image of how God doesn’t us the big staff he carries as a shepherd to drive us to the direction He wants us to go; rather, He gently guides us in that the direction. The staff is instead used to drive away any dangers along the way.
It’s not to say that there isn’t a time for me to be in high efficiency mode (as Jon likes to call it) and be more focused on executing something as effectively and efficiently as possible. However, there’s most definitely circumstances where approaching the situation in a cold, calculating manner is actually the least effective response. One of the many things that God is teaching me through this relationship is how to be more gentle. As painful as it is to realize that my way of thinking isn’t always the best way to think or do things (pride…other major shortcoming to explore next time?), I’ve been extremely blessed that God has provided me with a safe environment where I can learn to address these shortcomings and with someone who can withstand my mishaps and encourage me to become better or simply put (and yes, enjoy the Christian jargon though there’s really no better way of explaining it), more Christ like. When Christ came to the earth, He was able to simultaneously effectively deliver his message and fulfill his purpose while being gentle. So it’s possible! Yayyy.
I feel that this coming year is a year when I need to be equip myself with the ability to answer the question of: what is God calling me/us to and how are we going to respond? That question was very eloquently posed by Jon when we were discussing the future of our relationship and all the potential challenges that may arise. I feel that ‘gentleness’ is something that is applicable to the ‘how’ or approach to my response to His calling. In one of my devos, they explored the concept of gentleness but they also looked at the synonym of ‘meekness’. The Greek word /praótēs (“strength in gentleness”) avoids unnecessary harshness, yet without compromising or being too slow to use necessary force. So in this understanding, meekness is actually a demonstration of strength. In my case then, do I have the internal strength to be gentle?