No need to duck.
I’m not slinging anything at you.
Sometimes, I have a hard time knowing if I should tone it down a bit: my opinions, my personality, my lean towards being outspoken.
And then, I’m reminded of the times God has either spoken to me directly in a dream . . . yes, a la “Joseph” style, or began moving my pen with abandon before a hearing a sermon or a testimony, only to find that the spoken words matched the thoughts I had just written down.
There IS some discernment going on. It’s more than intuition. Some dreams are now long forgotten – but when they first occurred I did obediently follow-up with the person whom God had placed on my heart while I slumbered. Only one stands out in my mind now . . . others have faded away. What I do remember, however, is that upon addressing what I saw in the visions, I discovered the dreams to be spot on – not down to every tiny detail – but eerily true nonetheless.
Whether it was during my time as Director of Campus ministries at Trinity College, when I woke from a dream knowing that a particular student was contemplating suicide, or the confirmation I feel after I write a marathon and am told by someone, strangers even, that the word was for them. There is something to this spiritual gift.
And, frankly, it’s not always welcome. By others. Or myself, even. For I don’t always use it well.
For the intention is for good.
Unfortunately, while helping is the goal, the perception can be “Here she comes again . . . take cover.”
Thing is – that doesn’t stop me. To be silent would be direct disobedience. Sure, this puts me in the hot-seat – often, but to ignore the “words” would have me living a “vanilla” existence.
Instead, I call it out. Thankfully, I’ve learned to ask better questions, even though I rarely choose a “middle of the road” stance. Heck, what does middle of the road mean anyway? Safe? ‘Cause walking down the middle of the road is FAR from safe. Walk down the middle of the road and one has a greater chance of getting HIT! Thank you kindly, but I’ll choose a side. Here’s where it gets tricky, and where I’m learning that approach is indeed important. Disagreement can be perceived as disrespect. (They are different.). Taking a “side” can perceived as rude. (They are different.) HOW you proceed in communicating beliefs/concerns, etc., does matter.
Discernment is not a popular gift. My thoughts are often black and white . . . not a lot of gray – except for the terrific shade of deep gray on my nails right now. Many don’t enjoy hanging out with “those people”. See, I don’t “play games” very well, or dole out empty compliments, or strive to make everyone feel good all the time. I’m called to something more than that.
“Give them grace!”
I do. Maybe I have a wrong definition of “grace”, but I think the word can be misused when we are uncomfortable about addressing a concern with a friend. Grace, to me, is to love them unconditionally in the midst a rough spot – not to avoid conflict or confrontation in those areas where they may be having difficulty. Choosing to not talk about that “something” isn’t grace. Grace doesn’t mean ignoring a problem and hoping it goes away because “it’s not our business”. Grace is loving within that business. Avoidance is simply . . . avoidance. I often think, what if I hadn’t spoken to that student who I feared wanted to end their life, because it wasn’t “any of my business.”?
But, it’s stuff like this that can leave a personality like mine lonely at times.
But don’t worry! Haha! I’m OK! (I actually like who God created me to me – just sharing from my heart is all . . .)
Thankfully, I surround myself with those who are not simply interested in surface-chatter. People who call ME out when I sound judgmental or am gossiping. (“WHAT? You gossip?” Yep. Sure have. And chances are you have too, so relax.) Thing is, these are people who KNOW ME. And people who love God in ways I aspire and respect. (Aaaaaand, I can have fun with those folks, too!)
Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps, it is this discernment that helped me go from teaching an acting class of 4-year-olds, to privately coaching some of the most talented youngsters (who are all grown up now) on the north shore of Chicago for 10 years – and being fought over for my services. WHY? Because I actually COACHED. I said the things that needed to be said, so that improvements could be made, and those kids could clinch those roles. I didn’t tell each private client they were brilliant. I told them when they were flat or needed to stand still and stop “acting”.
Perhaps, it is this discernment that has quickly catapulted me to a top Coach in Beachbody where my clients are successful because I don’t sugar-coat and tell them it’s going to be easy. I’m not loose on pats on the back. And I certainly don’t throw them an ‘it’s ok’, when they skip a workout. Nope, you asked for a Coach. So, what’s the obstacle? And how do we go over, under, around, or pick it up and hurl it? Many clients stay. Others choose to go.
And, yes, it is this discernment which will drive me to check in with someone who is most definitely avoiding me, to find out if there is some unspoken issue between us, OR, if I’ve heard talk of someone being upset with me, I’ll go directly to them and ask, “Have I offended you in some way?”
And listen, I’m no Saint. I’ve blown it just like every human out there. So I question myself. I over-reflect. I second-guess.
I’m THAT person.
And then, I put writing this post on hold in order to get on the phone with one of my coaches who is crippled by negative self-talk and we discuss “being transformed by the renewing of her mind”. And I launch into discipler mode immediately. We talk scripture, what she should be reading and listening to in order to evaporate the lies which reign in her head. We brainstorm, I speak bluntly, we make a plan for change. We connect. And suddenly, I’m once again back in my element . . .
as THAT person.