Heather at Graced By Christ has been leading an ongoing series titled “What’s the Shape of Your Faith?” Every week (usually on Friday) she brings up a topic and asks questions related to it. I mentioned in an earlier (and my only other) post in this series that I was behind in the weekly questions — they are a bit more thought-provoking than the average meme. 🙂 And I have had some other responsibilities to attend to over the last few weeks. I was going to do the questions in order, but instead of remaining hopelessly behind and never catching up, and in order to participate in the current conversation, I am going to jump in on the current one. I may or may not write about the previous ones I have missed, but, whether I write here about them or not, they have provoked a lot of thought!
I was glad to see several comments about ladies feeling a little awkward about the public self-introspection. I have felt that way, too, and that has been one hindrance. I’ve thought, “Who in the world would want to read all of this about me?!” But….I have enjoyed reading the responses of other people, and it has been a window into how different people think. So, hoping that this is useful to someone, here goes:
What is your style?
How do you tend to go about things and how does that affect how you obey God?
Are you a go-getter or laid back? With many of these questions, my answers tend to be somewhere in the middle rather than one extreme or the other, and often my answer would be “It depends.” I tend to be more laid back until “crunch time,” and then I can work solidly and in a focused way. I wouldn’t say I work better under a deadline (I hate the stress), but I do get more done then.
Do you keep it simple or do you go all out? Again, it depends. One of the things I’ve learned along the way, whether it is cleaning house for company coming, or getting ready for a ladies’ banquet, or whatever, is that you just can’t do it all. I used to get so frustrated that my nice little list wasn’t getting accomplished. That’s one thing about “crunch time” — the superfluous falls away and what absolutely has to happen becomes clear. Over the years I’ve becoming better at sorting out what needs to be done and what “extras” I’d like ahead of time. My tendency is to want to go all out, but realistically, sometimes it needs to be kept simple. And that is affected a lot by what else in life is going on at the time, time and energy constraints, etc.
If I could go off on a little soapbox here, though….. when someone does go all out, we need to just enjoy it and appreciate it. Often I have just picked up a package of Oreos or store-bought decorated cookies for a fellowship or function because I just didn’t have time or energy for anything else. But sometimes when I have had more time and wanted to do something creative, then I hear remarks like, “Well, you must’ve had a lot of time on your hands!” I hear remarks like that often when someone does go “all out.” At our ladies’ meetings, I tell the different ladies who volunteer to bring refreshments that they can feel free to just bring something like a pan of brownies if they want — I don’t want the refreshment time to be burdensome or the main focus of our meetings. But if someone does want to go all out, that’s fine — we can enjoy the fruit of their labors! Some folks’ “love language” is making food and preparing a really nice spread! When that happens, we don’t need to think, “Oh, my, after all this I can’t just bring my plain old cookies” (doesn’t Scripture tell us not to compare ourselves amongst ourselves?), and we don’t need to disparage the other person’s efforts with insinuations that we have more important things to do and they must not have if they had the time to do that.
[/soapbox now] 🙂
Do you finish what you start or leave it for someone else? I generally like to finish my own projects. I have had instances of feeling dumped on by having to finish other people’s projects, and I don’t want to do that to other people. But sometimes on major efforts you do need to call in help.
Do you like the best laid plans or prefer to wing-it? I like having basic plan of action, but I like to freedom to change course and wing it.
Do you like to be different, to stand out in the crowd? I don’t want to be a carbon copy, but I don’t want to be outlandish and call attention to self, either. I like doing things just a little bit different.
Do you prefer to go about unseen, be like everyone else? This kind of overlaps the above question. I don’t want to be just like everyone else, but I don’t want to walk into a room with the feeling, “Hey. everyone, look at ME!” I would prefer to go about my duties unseen.
Do you prefer the unusual or the normal, the intellectual or action? Some balance between each of those.
Are you a doer or a dreamer? A doer, primarily, though I like to dream sometimes.
Are you a follower or rebellious? Some of each.
Do you diminish yourself or do you struggle with pride? I used to diminish myself a lot, until I realized that an “inferiority complex” (what we used to call it years ago) can be just as much taken up with self — sometimes more so — as pride can. I do struggle with pride. No matter how much I tell myself that any talent or ability is from Him, and when something comes out well it is His doing, there is an ongoing struggle to keep self in its place.
Are you old fashioned or do you like all things new? I am primarily old-fashioned, but I do like to try new things sometimes.
Do like things the same or do you prefer change? I guess it would depend on what “things.” There are some things I like the same, but other things where I like change.
Are you very open about your life or are you more secretive and careful? My tendency is to be more secretive and careful, but I can be open about some things if I feel it would be a help to someone.
Last of all, how does your personal style affect your relationship with Him? Well, to me, this goes along with comments I expressed earlier about personality. I think God made us with certain traits, but because of our sinful nature, they are not in perfection yet. So it would be wrong to say, “That’s just the way I am” and use it as an excuse when we clash with other people or don’t want to do certain things. Looking back over these questions, they remind me that I need to be seeking His guidance and submitting to Him all along the way. I may like things planned out, and He may put me in situations where that trait is needed, but I need to trust Him with the unknown when He wants me to do something that there is no known plan for yet. I shouldn’t be laid back when it is time to get with it; but I shouldn’t forge ahead of Him, either. I need to learn when He wants me to keep it simple and when it is appropriate and needed to put forth extra effort. Though at times I prefer to blend in, I need to be available to speak or to do what He wants. I need to keep my focus on Him and off self. And so on through each of the questions: I need to submit each of these traits to Him and find the balance He wants me to maintain, and be willing to go beyond my normal preferences or comfort zone. It would be backwards to look at my style and say, “OK, because I am this way, I am going to do this and I will not do that.” Rather, as I seek Him and keep my focus on Him, I can know that He is developing those traits, and He may put me in a place prepared for just that style, or He may put me in a place that stretches me.
For more thoughts on this week’s questions, see this post.