Footwear of Faith

Footwear of Faith
Marikina City Footwear Museum
A very small portion of the Imelda Marcos Shoe Collection

How many pairs of shoes do you personally own? Does your family jokingly refer to you as “Imelda”? Or are you a one-pair wonder who sees little point in owning more than one functional, comfortable pair of shoes? I, myself, am much closer to the one-pair wonder than Imelda Marcos (who owned more than 3000 pairs of shoes).

I tend to have one pair of shoes for every occasion: I wear flip-flops everyday🩴; tennis shoes for the gym 👟; ankle boots with my dress pants 👢; sandals in the summer 👡; heels for special occasions 👠; and winter boots when it’s cold outside❄️. Oh, I almost forgot: I also have an old pair of those “special” Sketchers® that never did firm or tone anything saggy. Oh well!

You might be wondering, “Why all this talk about shoes? I thought this was a devotional!” True. True.

Well, shoes have soles, too! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!😂 )

The truth is, as I prayed about this month’s theme of faith, God brought to my mind a few common idioms about faith, and they all involved feet! A person takes a step of faith; another is walking in faith; while someone else just book a leap of faith. Apparently, faith requires moving your proverbial feet.

Before we start selecting shoes for the journey, let’s first define what faith is and is not. In the New Testament, “faith” is an action word. And while we can easily translate the Greek noun pistis as “faith,” the English language has no way to accurately translate its verb form, pisteuein, which literally means “to faith.”

Most of the time, pisteuein is translated “to believe” which implies mere mental assent; however, it’s meaning is more complex than that. Pisteuein is an action-imperative verb which contains the concept of trust embodied in obedient action.

Just let that sink in for a moment. “Faithing” is not merely believing in something or someone: “Faithing” is demonstrating trust in something or someone through obedient action. Unfortunately, there’s no such word as “faithing” in English. Therefore, it’s our responsibility to ensure that we keep this full definition of faith in mind when we read the Bible. We must remember that faith is not something you merely possess, it’s something you do. You exercise your faith through your actions. 

Understanding the meaning of pisteuein can enrich your understanding of familiar Bible passages and shed new light on them. For example, John 3:16 is typically translated “whosoever believes in Him,” but it would be better translated “all the faithing-in-Him ones.” It’s so much more than mental ascent.

Let me ask you this: Have you ever known someone (or been the person) to request prayer repeatedly for guidance on a particularly difficult decision, but the decision is never translated into action? This is indicative of a lack of faith.

In other words, merely praying without taking action is akin to buying a pair of shoes and never wearing them. It becomes a wasted opportunity and a constant reminder of what could have been. Shoes are meant to be worn, just as steps of faith are meant to be taken, not pondered forever.

When we pray about something, God will reveal next steps. He WANTS us to know His will. As Daniel 2:28 says, “There is a God in Heaven who reveals mysteries.”  He desires for us both to know His will AND to demonstrate our faith through action AND to trust His sovereignty. 

I can pray about a decision all I want; I can discuss it; I can tell everyone about it—none of this requires faith. I exercise faith when I make the decision and take the corresponding action.

When God says, “Work on THAT part!”

When God says, "Work on THAT part"

As I spent time in solitude this morning, pleading with God to speak into my heart, I was reminded of two seemingly unrelated events which took place yesterday: lunch with a dear friend and my son’s piano practice. Somehow, they converged into an unmistakable message from God—perfect timing, of course—and I got the memo! (More on that later.)

EVENT #1: LUNCH WITH A FRIEND

Mexican FoodYesterday, I was privileged to have lunch and spend a couple hours alone with a dear friend (thanks to the fact that our children are finally old enough to stay home by themselves).Thank you, Jesus! We enjoyed great Mexican food, a sweet time of fellowship catching up on what God is doing in our families, and then we got to work. You see, my friend and I have individually felt God’s prompting to author books. We decided earlier this year that we would hold each other accountable to make sure we were obedient and actually started writing our books. As a trusted “corner four” friend, she’s also been praying for me as I took this leap of faith putting myself “out there” for the world to see.

At one point during our conversation, we were discussing the “About Me” page on this site and how much I’ve struggled with what to include or omit—especially whether or not to feature my educational background and credentials. It’s always been important to me to include this information when introducing myself to a new audience. However, when my friend asked me the following question, it stopped me in my tracks: “Isn’t Jesus enough?”

“Of course, but I…”

“Is Jesus not enough?”

Lovingly, my friend explained that there was something going on with me and my desire to share my educational history that needed to be addressed.

“Do you think it’s pride?” I asked…hoping she would say no. (Although I have never considered myself to be a proud person, I am keenly aware that the sin of pride can creep in where we least expect it.)

“No,” she replied. [ Phew! ] “I don’t see you as a prideful person. But it is something.” We agreed that I would pray for God to open my eyes about this, and then we returned to the book discussion.

As I drove home from this meeting, I prayed for discernment about my felt need to share my education. It’s been so important to me to share this as part of my testimony and to help people know who I am.

INTJI began to wonder if the reason I want people to know my educational background might have something do with my personality type. According to the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory, I’m an INTJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging). INTJs are intellectual by nature, and we relate best on an intellectual level.

commentsWhen I shared my website with a Christian INTJ Facebook group of which I am a member, the very first comment—I kid you not— was: “What are your credentials?”

Since only four in every 500 women test INTJ, I’ve grown accustomed to the fact that I am “different.” Many years ago, a wonderful friend in business literally told me, “You’re weird.” She was not insulting me; it was simply her observation. She was right—I’m not like the majority of other women out there. According to PersonalityGrowth.com:

Many people do not understand the female INTJ, wanting her to fit into the typical female role. She may struggle with men not respecting her for her independent thinking…It is important to INTJs to be valued for their intelligence, wanting others to respect how hard they work and how much knowledge they have gathered. Having to deal with people doubting their natural abilities, is intensely frustrating to the INTJ. 1

In addition to my so-called “rare” personality type, I was educated by men on subjects geared towards men in classrooms full of men. I was the sole female Religion major in my college graduating class and one of only two female Master of Divinity recipients in my graduating seminary class. I didn’t mind, actually—I loved it.

College - Religion Major Friends & Mentor ProfessorCBU Religion Grads, 1990Receiving an award from my mentor, Dr. M. Vernon Davismbts-females

Being surrounded by and working closely with men for so many years, I learned how to be assertive, speak up for myself, defend my positions, and not back down. I was right alongside them when we were taught that our education had value and set us apart from those who didn’t have the training we did. They didn’t tell us this to foster some type of superiority complex, but rather to encourage us to fully embrace the experience both inside and outside the classroom and to learn as much as we could from our professors/mentors as well as our peers.

What I’m beginning to realize is that when I mention my educational background, people don’t know what to do with it or me. Some mistakenly assume that I’m bragging, and that’s a turn-off. Some see “red flags” and begin to wonder about my personal relationship with the Lord, as if somehow I think it’s all about the degrees. Some wonder why I’m mentioning it at all, since authentic faith has nothing to do with what I studied 20+ years ago. Yikes!

EVENT #2: PIANO PRACTICE 

As if the first event were not enough, the second event took place last night while I was listening to my son play the piano—one of my favorite things to do. Currently, he is working on a complicated John Williams composition entitled “Jedi Steps and Finale” from the blockbuster movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The sheet music is seven pages long, and it takes around nine minutes to play the entire piece from beginning to end. I love the score. I love piano solos. And I love hearing my son practice the piano…Well, mostly.

You see, there’s this one difficult section that is not so sweet-sounding, if you know what I mean. It’s not just any section: This particular section includes a critical shift in the score that must be hit spot-on, or it’s more painful than pleasant to hear. When he plays the wrong notes at the critical shift, I literally cringe—sometimes internally, sometimes externally. Since it had happened more than once, I made a mental note of it so that when he finished the song, we could have a little chat.

Son playing piano“I LOVE hearing you play! You’re doing such an amazing job with this piece! But there’s this one little section that really needs your undivided attention. Why don’t you spend a few minutes, and work on that part.

* Heavy sigh *

“Mahhhm!”

(I shoot the “I’m serious” look across the room.)

And almost immediately, his very focused practice on that section begins.The first couple times, it’s rough; however, within a few minutes, the sour notes have transformed into delightfully sweet and harmonious sounds: pleasant to the ear. Additionally, an air of confidence swirls around my boy who figured out how to overcome another challenge. Thank you, Lord!

When God says, “Work on that part.” 

Fast forward to this morning’s quiet time. As I reflected on these two seemingly unrelated events, they converged in my mind, and the Lord said to me, “You need to work on that part.” And I understood. I got it: I’ve been asking for guidance, and He gave it to me. Specifically. Tailored to my needs. I love how God speaks in ways we can understand, and how His guidance is perfect for our lives.

Milestone Moment:
The conversation with my friend after lunch yesterday was extremely eye-opening and will impact how I present myself from now on in EVERY arena. This was definitely a “Never Go Back” lesson for me (cf. Never Go Back: 10 Things You’ll Never Do Again by Dr. Henry Cloud).

I will not only rework the “About Me” page on this site, but I will also—more importantly—work on how I present myself to people in general. I never realized how I was coming across to others (a typical INTJ trait—I’m so glad I have learned about my personality quirks! Click here to learn about yours).

As Dr. Drenth at PersonalityJunkie.com states:

Onlookers sense that INTJs seem to ‘live in their own world.’ Immersed in their own minds and interests, INTJs can be oblivious to social norms or other practical aspects of life. While incredibly ‘book smart,’ they may fall short when it comes to social or ‘street smarts.’2

Yeah, that’s me: Ms. Oblivious.

Why did I never recognize this pattern before?! Argh! I have to admit that I’m a lot embarrassed about this. I just didn’t think about it. I wanted people to know me for who I am, and my education is (was) a HUGE part of that. Years ago, my friend, Robin Denny (The Healthy Wife Club), encouraged me to limit my personal introduction to the most recent 3-year timespan. Now, I understand why.

As James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

The good news is that I am teachable—slow on the pick-up, but teachable, nonetheless! And I have learned my lesson. Moving forward, I will not mention my education. It’s going to be hard, but now that I understand why, I will leave it out and provide a CV upon request.

Yeah, I think I’ll work on that!

My new goal is to stop talking (or writing) about what I’ve done, and focus on the amazing things God has done in my life: How He has led me ever since I was a little girl to follow His will. How he has taught me to hear His voice. How He has taken me from baby steps to big leaps of faith. How he has helped me through some pretty dark times. How He is still working in my life every single day. How I’m a work in progress with an active relationship with HIM. How He’s a good, good Father.

How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You?* I hope you’re still reading, because I want to share one more thing: I’m currently reading a book called “How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You?” which has encouraged me to listen for God’s voice through what I’m saying to my son. This book is having a hugely positive impact on my life, and I highly recommend it.

@RachaelCarman www.RachaelCarman.com

#HMTimes #parenting #gratefulforfriends #cornerfour #poweroftheother #nevergoback #INTJ #workingonit

__________________

1 Personality Growth. “The Rare INTJ Female.” http://personalitygrowth.com/the-rare-intj-female-and-the-struggles-of-being-utterly-uncommon/

2 Drenth, A. J. “INTJ Personality Type (Newly Updated).” http://personalityjunkie.com/the-intj/

Keys to Understanding Yourself

Keys to Understanding Yourself

If you’ve never studied the different personality types before, you’re in for a treat! Although your personality is comprised of characteristics and qualities that make you uniquely you, you  may be surprised (and relieved!) to learn that you’re not the only one who approaches life in this manner.

Introvert Heaven

You’re not the only one who prefers a book to a party (or a party to a book). You’re not the only one who cocoons after being surrounded by a crowd (or seeks a crowd after too much time alone). Learning about your personality is fun and exciting, but why stop with yourself?  

Personality Types Matter

For me, the most rewarding part of understanding my personality came when I learned the personality types of my husband and son and parents and siblings and inlaws and friends. Yes, I enthusiastically asked them all to take the quiz, and they did! It was amazing to see how each person was “pegged” correctly and how insightful the descriptions were regarding how we relate to each other.

Know Your Personality type MBTI

TAKE THESE FREE ONLINE QUIZZES:

Here are a few of my favorite proven-in-real-life online quizzes to help us not only to understand ourselves and each other better, but also to show each other love and appreciation more effectively. Add your personality type in the comment section below! 

KEY #1: Know Your Meyers-Briggs Personality Type

In layman’s terms, the Meyers-Briggs Personality Inventory (MBTI) explains our “preferences” (how we act, how we re-energize, how we make decisions) Here’s a link to the best (in my opinion) FREE Meyers Briggs Personality Test on the internet: http://bitbike.com/cgi-bin/pt?language=en  (There’s also a personality test you can take for your children here: http://www.personalitypage.com/html/pqk_indicate.html)

Once you know your 4-letter MBTI personality type, read about it. See if the description fits you (that’s really the best way to know if you were typed correctly). Here are a few good resources to get you started:

KEY #2: Know Your Enneagram Type

The Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI) complements the MBTI by providing insight into WHY we act the way we do (i.e., what is our motivation for making the decisions we make?). The sample Enneagram test below will give you enough information for you to figure out your main Type and your secondary Type (“wing”).

It’s important to know your wing, because it has great influence on your main type. To figure out your wing, simply look at your main Type (the type with the highest score), and look at the scores to the immediate right and left. Whichever of the two is the highest, that is your wing. Click here to take the FREE Enneagram Test.

Once you have your main type and your wing, Google is your friend. Simply enter your type & wing followed by the word “Enneagram” and enjoy the learning process! For example, I’m a 1w9, so I would type “1w9 Enneagram” into Google to learn more about my type.

KEY #3: Know Your Love Language

Marriage and family counselor, Dr. Gary Chapman, concluded years ago that people generally communicate in five basic “love languages.” The premise is that each of us has a certain way to give and receive love (our love language), and that we should each work hard to “speak” in the love language that is understood/spoken by the other person rather than only “speaking” in our own.

Learn the 5 Love Languages

This concept has been revolutionary in not only marriage relationships, but also family relationships and even co-worker relationships. Click here to take the FREE Five Love Languages Test.

Once you know what your primary love language is, you can continue learning about it by either purchasing the best-selling book (highly recommended) The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts or browsing their site.

KEY #4: Know Your Strengths (not free)

People are finally realizing how important it is for us to know our strengths (a.k.a. “themes” or “inborn talents”) and work within them versus focusing on our weaknesses in order to be more well-rounded. There are  basically 34 strength categories (“themes”), and this test will give you your Top 5 Themes.

This test is known as the Clifton StrengthsFinder® which requires a code. The research was done by the Gallup organization over a number of years and is some of the most SOLID data you will find. It’s very accurate and insightful. You can either purchase one of their books which includes the code, or purchase the code separately for $15.00.

It’s worth it to know your strengths! I suggest purchasing either Strengths Finder 2.0 or Living Your Strengths: Discover Your God-Given Strengths and Inspire Your Community (highly recommended for people of faith), and then use the code inside the book to take the test.

Once you know what your Top 5 Themes (your strengths), you can begin researching what they mean and how they impact your behavior and performance. Here are a couple resources for additional information about your strengths:

Here’s a short video series that goes through each of the 34 themes:

PHOTO CREDITS:
African American Family by @leighann-renee on @unsplash
Reading in France @mvp on @unsplash

Friends Talking @helena-lopes on @unsplash
Cotton Candy photo by @valerie-elash on @unsplash

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”