Know Yourself, and Then Be You

Today I’d like to hand my virtual pen over to my dear friend and fellow writer, Emily Meyer. Emily and I met years ago during our days at Liberty University, and thanks to modern technology we have been able to stay connected as sisters and fellow dreamers and writers. You can (and SHOULD) follow Emily at www.emilypmeyer.com. Take it away, Emily! 

Personality tests. They’re a thing. I’ve filled out the bubbles for two formats of personality questionnaires that have nailed me. I’m an ENFJ on the Myers-Briggs test and an Enneagram 1. After taking these quizzes, the summary of my personality assignment doesn’t tell me anything that I did not already know about myself, but it does give me a good point of reference to direct others that might want to understand me a little better, as well as a good personal inventory summation.

Here’s what these tests teach us about our identities: we want to be known and understood.

Not many wish to walk through life unknown or misunderstood, do they?

We crave connection with others. We long for a proper understanding both internally and externally of who we are and why we are here.

Getting to know yourself better is critical to gaining perspective in how to best serve others with the unique compilation of humanity, heart, talents, and skills God has created inside of you. Self examination helps make way for deeper, more intentional spheres of influence because it offers the best launch pad for connecting your unique character qualities and abilities with the needs of others.

As you get to know yourself, maybe you’ll discover you’re a really good story teller and connect with someone who needs to learn truth or wisdom that can best be understood by hearing your story as it connects with God’s story.

Maybe you’ll gain a deeper understanding of your desire for justice and watch it go much further than Facebook rants and on to help a voiceless soul in the middle of Asia be liberated from sex slavery because of your rally cry.

Could your introverted self find deeper fellowship with the Lord as you bring what you quietly ache for before His throne?

Perhaps you’ll become more familiar with your nurturing side and be encouraged to become a nurse or physician that uses your training to connect with a person who needs physical help. Maybe you’ll find your lap filled with children as you teach them about shapes, colors, words, and Jesus. Or a nursing home might be a little less lonely because you show up to sit with someone whose memory is gone but need for people isn’t.

What would happen if your extroverted nature became a catalyst for gathering people to teach them a helpful skill or even about eternity?

That creative side of yours might just create a work of art that catches the eye of someone who simply needed to see something beautiful in their grey world that day.

Do you think that being an ambivert might offer time to collect your thoughts and time to share wisdom with someone who is desperately searching for direction.

Shakespeare penned these words, “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” I think he needed to develop those sentiments a little further, but he’s mostly right. Mostly in the sense that there’s no faking who you really are in the end. But there’s a little more to it than just being who you really are. When you know who you really are: good, bad, and ugly, you must consider the need for transformation to become the best version of you… the one you were created to be.

“God created you to be something He didn’t create anyone else to be.” A Pastor in Africa said that to my husband and me years ago.

If you sift this statement from our African brother and Shakespeare’s phrase together, you come a little closer to what Jesus teaches is the best method of recognizing who you are and why you are here…

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” Ephesians 4:17-25

You can’t run from the personality style that God has created you with…it’s what makes you you. Don’t pretend to be someone you aren’t.

Equally, you can’t run fast enough toward Jesus as you throw the things behind that tend to hinder you from the best relationships and most impactful ways of living and greatest understanding of why you’re here now.

Be true to yourself, but be truer to the One who made you. As you walk in truth, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the person you were created to be and how you were meant to live. You’ll identify better both with yourself and others as you live in the truth of who you have been created to be and the One you are becoming more like. Be you, let Christ be Himself in you and then, your life will be-youtiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How To Wait Well

It’s 8am. We’re all gathered in the mud room. Snow pants, boots, hats, and gloves fly out of the plastic storage bin, landing in heaps on the ceramic tile floor. We should have been in the car five minutes ago, but my oldest son can’t find one of his gloves. I wait,  anxiously tapping my fingers.

I can feel the tension rising like the first bubbles of boiling water. “Zip up your coat,” I tell my son for the third time. I’m trying my darnedest to be patient, but waiting on two little boys to put on forty thousand pieces of snow gear was not factored into my plans for the morning.

The frustration boils out of me. I know I shouldn’t say anything, but my feelings get the best of me.

Tick-tock! Get those shoes ON. Let’s GO!” I bark.

I instantly regret letting my words fly, reminded that I have lots to learn about patience and waiting.

Waiting is hard. Waiting on small things like little boys gearing up to leave in the mornings is frustrating. But waiting on big things for long seasons? That kind of waiting is excruciating.

Whether we’re waiting for little ones to hurry along, waiting for a miracle, waiting for healing, waiting for a breakthrough, waiting for the pain to end, or waiting for the adventure to begin we all must wait. Most of us hate waiting. But perhaps waiting is the very thing that we need, and maybe, just maybe, there’s a way to wait well. Here are a few things I’m learning about how to wait well.

Wait In Stillness

Waiting well requires waiting in stillness. When we are waiting, we can be tempted to hurry the process along, grab the bull by the horns, do whatever we can to move forward. We don’t like feeling out of control, so we tend to strive anxiously to get past the waiting room.

But what if waiting is really a bold and beautiful invitation to be still with God?

Perhaps we must wait so that we don’t miss God in the miracle. Waiting for God and waiting with God are two different things. Being still gives us an opportunity to learn His heart while we wait for Him to move. We all love God’s miracles; the miracles make us fans. But the waiting in stillness allows us to know Him: His heart, His motives. It’s in the waiting that we build intimacy.

Wait Actively 

Waiting in stillness and waiting actively are two sides of the same coin. Active waiting requires intentionality. Waiting well is not passive. We must actively create margin to be still. We must actively pursue opening our Bibles to let God speak His promises over us. We must actively pray and open our hearts, raw and exposed, to the Lord.

Active waiting means letting God do what only God can do, while we do what we can to cooperate in the process. Many times that simply means showing up to do the very next right thing, whatever that might be: speaking kind words when you want to snap, showing up and working faithfully at your less-than-dream-job, or even seeking counseling or coaching. Waiting is moment-by-moment, and the sum of what we do in those moments determines whether we will reap the rewards of waiting well.

Wait Patiently

I’ve recently been letting Jillian Michaels kick my tail through her Yoga Meltdown workouts–body weight training through power yoga. Jillian coaches users through difficult poses and movements and then closes out each set with having us hold each pose. As I hold each pose, muscles shaking, Jillian continues coaching and talking. I don’t always listen; many times I’m consciously thinking, “Stop talking, Jillian! I’m dying!” (dramatic. I know).

But Jillian knows something about waiting in that uncomfortable, difficult position: the waiting through the pain and discomfort is making me stronger.

The Greek word for patience is “humomone.” It means “to remain under.” Seasons of waiting are seasons of remaining under God’s authority and leadership; remaining under His careful instruction to hold still in the uncomfortable seasons so that we build strength and endurance.

Breathe, my friend. Press into it. You’re getting stronger.

Wait Collectively 

I’m an extrovert that practically uses jazz-hands every time I walk into a room full of people. But when I’m in painful seasons of waiting, my natural tendency is to withdraw from people. If I am not careful to actively press into community when my feelings say to pull back, I can easily be driven into seasons of depression and extreme loneliness.

Pulling away from community when we are waiting for breakthroughs is one of the most detrimental things we can do. God’s spirit resides in His people, and one of the ways He shows us His love, power, and care is through others. When we pull away from everyone, we shut down the ability to receive God’s encouragement, care, and compassion through them.

Wait Expectantly

If we are to wait well, we must wait expectantly; we wait full of hope, expecting God to come through. We wait by the sea, expecting God to do something, even if that sea parting is the last thing we could ever imagine. We can wait expecting God to come through and to lead us. He didn’t bring you this far to leave you in the desert. We do not wait as orphans, but as beloved children under the watchful eye of an all-loving Father.

Your season of waiting will not last forever, however long it may be. Take courage. God is in the waiting.

Shame, Identity, And Why We Can’t Stop Singing, “This Is Me.”

The Greatest Showman has taken the world by storm as a powerful story of human triumph. If you haven’t seen it, drop everything you’re doing and go see it now. (Because priorities).

Some of you are like me, and you’ve not only seen the movie, but the phrase, “Alexa, play ‘The Greatest Showman‘ soundtrack,” is heard throughout the day…every. single. day.

Full disclosure? I’ve even taken my love of this movie to a whole different level. I came across a video tutorial of some of the choreography for the movie’s flagship song, “This Is Me,” and I’ve been practicing in my living room. No, really.

This Is Me” is a powerful anthem. It is a battle cry for anyone who has ever believed that they are unworthy of love and value,  but who are daring to step beyond the shackles of shame and hiding.

The movie depicts an array of unusual characters that the world has labeled “freaks” and “monsters.” We see Tom Thumb, a twenty-something year old man with dwarf syndrome, whose own mother kept him hidden and even denied having a son. We see Lettie, the bearded lady, who is introduced to us hiding behind her work of cleaning laundry, too ashamed to come out from behind the curtain.

Their outward oddities played a role in their being ostracized, but it was their hidden shame—their belief in their lack of worth, value, or belonging—that really held them prisoner.

We’ve all bought into the same vicious lies at some point or another. I’m going to bet that you have felt the gripping weight of pain, shame, and feeling unworthy at some point in your life.

Perhaps you’re feeling those things right now, tangled up in the darkness that comes when we believe no one will want us, love us, accept us as we are. As Keala Settle begins “This Is Me,” our hearts cry like mourning doves, knowing these words so well:

I am not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say
‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one’ll love you as you are

We create our masks to hide behind. Tom Thumb hid in the confines of a ramshackle house. Lettie hid behind bed linens clipped carefully across a laundry line. Some of us hide behind achievement, others behind addiction. Some hide behind screens, and some behind productivity.

We all have experienced shame that has beaten and silenced our souls into hiding. But we are called to step out of the shadows and into the liberating light of freedom.

Shame suffocates the truth about who we really are.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to burst down the barricades; it is time to break free.  It’s time to take our identities back; to send a flood and drown out the shame and the lies with the truth.

On the other side of this screen is a human being made from the very hands that carved out the oceans, who set the galaxies in motion. You are a masterpiece. You are loved simply because you are.

You are loved. Period. And anything that speaks to the contrary is a lie straight from the pit of hell.

You, with your scars and bruises, your mistakes and failures, your baggage, your dreams, your feelings of being too much and not enough all at the same time. Even if you do not believe it, the truth is that you bear the Image of God—His DNA, his fingerprints.

To the person who has been abandoned, abused, and maligned: you are wanted.

To the person secretly questioning if your life matters: you matter more than you can fathom.

To the person consumed with pain and sorrow, hoping to crawl into a cave until you heal, too ashamed to reveal your broken heart to others: it’s time to be brave and step into the light.

To the person striving with everything you’ve got to earn approval, receive affirmation, and learn to be pleasing: in Jesus you can rest from a lifetime of trying to earn the love that is already yours.

To the person whose story has been used as a weapon against you; whose failures have been used as reasons why you are unloveable and too far from grace: Christ has overcome.

We must know the truth, not platitudes, not feel-good-statements, but the Truth Himself. He loves us, He is for us, and we don’t have to jump through hoops for Him.

“This Is Me” is an anthem for all of us; it is a battle cry against anything that would condemn us, shame us, or convince us that there is no hope.

Another round of bullets hits my skin
Well, fire away ’cause today, I won’t let the shame sink in
We are bursting through the barricades and
Reaching for the sun. We are warriors. 
Yeah, that’s what we’ve become

Jesus has broken the chains of barricades holding you as a slave. You are a warrior.

Let’s be done hiding. Let’s be done with shame.

Let’s step into the light and say, “I am brave. I am bruised. I am who I’m meant to be. This is me.” Beloved son or daughter. Uniquely crafted. Wanted. Purposed. Beloved.