Sometimes I feel like I’m a walking contradiction. Just today I felt overwhelmed with housework and to-do’s. I was relieved when my mom came to get Alyssa so I could catch up, but a few hours later I began missing the kids and the noise. I had longed for some quiet, yet the quiet became deafening.
Here’s another example of my contradictory nature. I can get so excited about things in life. My energy abounds. But then sometimes – mostly in the stillness of the before-bed hours – I start feeling clouded with darkness and fears begin to assault my mind.
And then there’s my personal vice that seems to oppose the very essence of my calling. Few things give me more satisfaction than when I’m doing what God made me to do. Yet those very things many times open me up to the things that have the power to paralyze my soul – my fear of criticism and my need of approval.
I was talking to my friend Tiffany about this several weeks ago. We’ve been friends for over 16 years so she knows me quite well. I was lamenting about a recent conflict that had taken place. Although the conflict had been resolved, in the midst of it I was tortured by it. It consumed my thoughts and I was miserable. I asked Tiffany to help me learn how to not get so upset when someone questions me or criticizes me or doesn’t like me (real or perceived).
She responded in a way I didn’t expect.
She said that she didn’t think I’d ever be able to let things “not” get to me. She said I could learn to handle it better, but my deep thinking and sensitivity were part of who God created me to be. If I lost this part of myself, I’d lose part of myself.
If I lost this part of myself, I’d lose part of myself.
I didn’t want to hear that. I wanted her to get her magic best-friend wand out and grant me a tougher heart. Instead, I found myself looking at this part of me in a different way. I needed to:
- Embrace it. God made me a deeply sensitive and passionate person for a reason.
- Guard my heart. Even good things can become idols and replace God in our hearts. When I find myself changing who I am or what I do to gain approval so people will like me, I am bowing to the idol of acceptance. Or if I find myself avoiding situations that make me feel vulnerable, I’m limiting God’s work through this area he created in me.
- Run to God. When God remains on the throne of my life, I don’t need approval from anyone else because I’m already approved in Christ. But, he will show me how to use this sensitivity to be open to correction and putting others’ needs first in order to serve them, not to seek approval.
As much as I’d like God to change this part of my heart, it’s there for a purpose. It will never go away. Left unchecked, it will paralyze me. It will hinder me from doing what I’ve been made to do. But submitted to the God who loves me and has a purpose for me, it has the potential to be used for God’s glory in ways I can’t fathom.
Is there a part of your personality that you despise? If you could wish it away, would you? If so, perhaps you should look at it through a different lens. Embrace it. Guard your heart against allowing it to control you in an unhealthy way, and run to God and allow Him to show you how, submitted to Him, it is beautiful.