In the midst of this spiritual desert, where post-modernism is the term for the general mind set, Age of Tolerance is the title assigned to the time period, and transience is the adjective given to nearly all of America and possibly many more people nationally, it’s difficult to find those people who encourage you by just walking into the room. There are people out there who can make you laughing so hard you’re crying and you feel like your ribs are collapsing (in the most comfortable way possible) in one moment and then participate in and give helpful feedback and insight during discussions concerning theology, philosophy, art, and the intimacy of and growth in a relationship with God.
I have those people….about fourteen of them in one spot 🙂
Granted, not all of them, considering the large range of ages, can carry on a philosophical or theological discussion, but all of them know the truth of God, understand what it means to be a family, a team, and they carry the greatest example of godly love that I can think of or that I have witnessed thus far in my life.
This family of which I speak is the Brocks. About three years ago, Hannah (one of the eldest daughters) and I were part of an online blogging group where we would be given a topic every two weeks to a month and write something about it. Eventually, Hannah and I began writing letters and emails, mostly because her grandmother attends my home church and she thought me and Hannah would be good friends.
Well, we were 🙂
Three years later, Hannah and her family are my safe haven, people I miss very dearly on a regular basis. I am the honorary Brock child and they are my honorary family. I spent the last couple of nights there, having snowball fights with the boys, going to the movies to see the Hobbit (which I refuse to comment on, just because I know my own limits and know that my critique will evolve into a rant) with the older kids and some friends (who I know well) from their church, doing the dishes, giving piggy-back rides, having great discussions, telling jokes and crazy stories, and learning a lot about all of them, even though I feel like I know them all so well already.
They are truly a blessing. Hannah, Jacob, Leah, Beth, and I were usually the ones who stayed up the latest and had the most conversations together as a whole (all of us are older, from sixteen to twenty-two), playing games like Rummy and Phase 10…some of those games became quite entertaining 😀 Anyway, the five of us spent most of the time staying up until two to three in the morning playing these games and talking about different things, and everyone of us went through the many stages of sleep deprivation: from quietness, to sarcasm, to whining, to giddiness, to acting like we were three-year-olds who had broken into a bag of espresso.
Spending time with them reminded me that, despite how different people are, how diverse their personalities can be, there’s a level of cooperation and teamwork and growth that can and should be accomplished within the body of the church, the whole of Christianity.
Speaking of personalities, I learned something new :D. While I was visiting, Hannah asked me what my love language was. I replied with either French or Italian. This was not what she was looking for. Your love language, I learned, is how you show love to others or how you receive love from others. Mine, for example, is through spending time with people. In other words, going to the library and sitting around in silence is part of my love language; going to a diner for a cup of hot chocolate and a good talk is part of my love language; chatting while cooking or cleaning is part of my love language, as long I’m able to spend quality time with other people. There are five love languages: words of affirmation (hearing someone say “I love you” or telling someone what you think about them or how much you care for them), touch (physical affection or engagement), time (mine; spending time with others in meaningful interaction), gifts (showing love by giving gifts and receiving love by receiving gifts) and service (showing and receiving love through different acts of service to others).
Learning about these languages made me think about how I react to other people’s love languages while taking into consideration my own. For example, when people try to express their love for me by giving me gifts or paying for me or anything like that, I don’t usually respond very well, at least not initially. On the outside I say thank you and inwardly remind myself that just because someone is giving me a gift doesn’t mean they’re bargaining; they’re just telling me they care about me.
So, while some people may have the same love language, the specifics of each language are very different and very unique according to each and every person.
Believe it or not, I do have a point to all of this, other than that of my being excited about learning something new.
The idea of love languages made me think about personality types. The idea of personality types made me think about how different people are from each other. And this is the concept that came out of these thoughts:
I mentioned in a different post how I sometimes felt like cardboard, like I’m incapable of expressing my emotions properly and understanding the truth of what other people say and trusting that truth. I have a huge problem with believing that other people can actually care about me.
That’s why having a relationship with God is so huge for me, or at least one of the reasons. The whole not-believing-someone-would-care-for-me concept is actually really selfish. It’s me putting myself outside of the love of others and ultimately the love of God. There is not one soul on this earth, past, present, or future, that God has hated, much less failed to love. I am never too “unlovable” for God. This is a sort of defect in my perception of truth. But God is working on it with me, and it gets easier every day 🙂
Anyway, what I didn’t realize about being a piece of cardboard is that it’s very difficult, despite my extroversion, for me to reach out to people, to tell them my exact emotions and to explain to them, accurately, how I feel about them, at least I think so. This made me think of something else: just how different is my perception of myself from others’ perception of me?
This question brought me back around to the question that matters the most, the one that I’ve answered for myself countless times, the one that I’ve answered for others even more so: what does God think about me?
Whether your a hard piece of cardboard, like a Vulcan, feeling as if you’re incapable of feeling correctly, showing affection to others, or being able to let yourself be vulnerable before people and letting them into your brain and heart, or if you’re a soft blade of grass, capable of pouring your heart out with eloquence as if you have an outline sketched out in your head, God thinks about you the same way.
According to Psalm 139, God sees us as beautifully and wonderfully made, regardless of our emotional state, personality type, whatever. Isaiah 43:4,5 calls us precious in God’s eyes, honored and loved. The best part about how God sees us isn’t actually about us at all, but about God. This is the ultimate way to disregard the things about yourself you may not like, by taking the focus off of what you think of yourself, and rather placing the focus on what you know to be true via the word of God, the nature of God, the acts of God in your life. If you want better self-esteem, think about God, the One who is complete in Himself.
1 John 3:19, 20 is a verse I’ve been referring to a lot lately. It says “And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things” (KJV). In other words, our emotional state is not what defines our faith, but rather the character and identity of God, who He is, what we know to be true of Him.
Yay truth! 😀 I’m so glad my faith isn’t based off of emotions!!! If it were, then I probably wouldn’t even have a faith. There would be days I would wake up and just not feel like believing in God or believing in the Bible and what not, thinking they’re just things I do because that’s part of what I signed up for. Nope. It’s more like, doing or not doing these things (spending time with God, applying the things I learn about Him through His word, extra reading and studying, watching what media I expose myself to, actively trying to surround myself with people who push me towards Him), regardless of how I feel, it affects how I act and how I perceive things and how I interact with others, everything.
So how does this little bit tie into being a piece of cardboard or a blade of grass? Well, both the cardboard and the grass represent the emotional states of different people. The idea is to find a place in between the two, where you aren’t constantly being overtaken by your emotions while, at the same time, you’re still capable of feeling things very deeply. A plain ol’ 8.5 X 11 piece of printer paper would do for imagery’s sake. The best part about being a piece of printer paper? God can write His story for you, His thoughts of your actions and of you as you, on your heart, and you’ll never forget it 🙂