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
Yesterday, 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.
I 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.
When 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.
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.
“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 *
(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.
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.
* 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.
#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/