Over the last 12 months, I have found myself making the trip between Kansas City and Manhattan more times that I can count. This stretch of I-70 is an easy drive and prime opportunity for me to catch up on my favorite podcasts. I’ve always found that the more content I’m able to ingest, the more content I’m able to create. While my blog has been a little quiet over the last several months, some of the content I’ve been reading/listening to has hit a real nerve within me. I woke up early this Sunday morning feeling a desperate need to write. This is a rare occurrence for me, so, I’m believing that this is a nudge from the Holy Spirit and not just insomnia.
As I look back at what God has been teaching me through his Word and through the work of other individuals (books, podcasts, etc.) I can’t help but wonder why I’ve been so quiet on my blog. It hasn’t been for a lack of ideas or questions. In fact, I think this last season of my life I’ve been asking more questions, spending more time in intentional study, and starting more conversations with people close to me than ever before. If I’m honest, I haven’t gone public with some of my thoughts, understanding, or questions in a while because I’m likely to have readers who disagree with me.
In my last blog post, 4 things I’ve Learned in My Fourth Year of Marriage, I gave a brief introduction to the Enneagram and how it’s been beneficial in my marriage. For all of you Enneagram lovers out there, you will a have a better understanding of what I’m about to explain. Everyone else, I’ll try to be as clear and concise as possible. I am a 9 on the Enneagram. Also, known as the Peacemaker. One notable thing about being a 9 is that I do not like to rock the boat, like at all. My biggest desire is to have inner peace, and external peace. I need peace within myself and peace in my relationships. I care A LOT about the feelings of others. So much so, I have a tendency to erase my own thoughts, feelings, or desires for the betterment of the group. In short, I go along to get along. However, one of my favorite reasons for studying the Enneagram, is that while it points out several tendencies that I have, it does not give me permission to continue in them. In fact, it calls me out of my natural tendencies. As a 9, I don’t want to rock the boat. In an effort to become more like Jesus, I have questions that rock the boat! As you can see, this is a problem. Did you catch it earlier? I not only care about peace in my relationships, but I also care about internal peace. When Jesus allows me to see him from new angles and perspectives, when I have questions, internal peace is difficult.
So what do I do with all of this? I pray. I pray, and I study, and I write. I pray, and I study, and I write, and I lean into grace. Grace from God as the Holy Spirit teaches and guides me on this journey to gaining more understanding and becoming more like Jesus.
A week before my eighteenth birthday, I convinced my mom that we should get matching tattoos. I’m not sure if she actually wanted to do it or not, or if it was the fact that she was about to send her last child and only daughter off to college in a few short months, but she agreed. As we were deciding what tattoo we wanted, we landed on getting a cross with a reference to “Mark 12:30”. Side note: Since getting this tattoo, I’ve been asked if Mark was the name of my son and if 12/30 was his birthday. Not quite what I was going for, but gave me a good laugh anyways. Mark 12:30 says this,
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength.
Jesus was approached by a teacher of the law, when he was asked, out of all of the commandments given, which is the greatest? In verse 31, Jesus’ response continues and concludes with “The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no greater commandment than these.” Now, this is a pretty big deal. Jesus gave an incredibly straight forward answer to a question that was thrown at him to try and trip him up. My mom and I landed on this verse, because God has given us a strong desire to love people well. However, we also know, that we cannot love people well, until we first love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Our love for God, will translate into loving others well.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. One of my favorite things about the work of the Holy Spirit in my life, is his ability to bring meaning to a certain passage or verse in one season, and then bring me back to the same scripture in a new season, and add on to my understanding of God and what he is asking of me. I am currently reading Half the Church by Carolyn Custis James and it is rocking my world. I’m only two chapters in at this point, but she is challenging my identity as an image bearer of God, and more specifically, a daughter of God. As a woman, am I still commanded to love the Lord my God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength? Yes. Do I believe that God has given me gifts and talents that should be used to bring him glory? Yes. Would he ever give me a gift or talent that I would be asked not to use for his glory? No. Am I being asked to love the Lord with three-fourths of my heart, soul, mind, and strength? In the words of John Crist, “For sure, no.”
I don’t yet have the answers to all of the hard questions I’m asking. I am confident that I never will. But at least I’m asking them. I’m asking them and seeking the Lord. I am learning more about who He is, and who he says I am. I am uniquely gifted and asked to give 100% to loving my God. 100% of my heart, 100% of my soul, 100% of mind, 100% of my strength.
At the end of each chapter in the book, Carolyn has discussion questions. Usually I read these, but unless I am studying in a group, I can easily skip through without giving them much thought. However, this question stopped me in my tracks and ultimately prompted this blog post.
What effort does God long to see you make as you cultivate your calling as his image bearer?
As a 9 on the Enneagram, I am usually okay with coasting. It takes a lot for me to decide to act, because life feels comfortable and controlled right now. If there is one thing that I know for sure, it’s that God does not call me to a life of comfort. In many ways, I see my ability organize words on a page, as a gift that God has given me. Will my desire to not rock the boat keep me from using this gift to bring glory to God? God is calling me to a life of loving him with all of me. 100% of what I have to offer. All that he has given me to be used for his glory. Writing blogs is just one small example, but there are many more areas of my life that I have a tendency to play small. Marianne Williamson says this:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
I’m not sure if I am the only that needs to hear this today or not but, YOU ARE NOT CALLED TO PLAY SMALL. You are uniquely gifted on purpose for a purpose.
Whew, I started this blog post thinking I was going to share a few thoughts on what I was learning, and it turned into a personal pep-talk. I hope that even in some small way you can relate and that you feel challenged. Over the years, I’ve come to learn that my biggest growth doesn’t happen when I’m comfortable. It happens when I’m uncomfortable.
What are you doing with your uncomfortable questions? Where do you go when you need answers? I serve a God who is never late. I serve a God who is patient, kind, and so full of grace. I serve a God who invites me into his story, who gives me a purpose, and is asking me to bring 100% of who I am to the table. I am so thankful.
Be encouraged, friends.
If you’re interested, here’s a few links to some books, podcasts, songs I’ve been into lately: