I am, by nature, stubborn.
stubborn- justifiably unyielding
This is my favorite definition of the word. We live in a time when our ever-changing culture tries to cram all kinds of things down our throats. From how we should parade our lives around on social media to how we should live every facet of our day…. The constant influence is trying to mold our minds how to think. But I am stubborn.
I find myself wrestling with the status quo on so many levels. I have never really “fit” into any box or the typical tags that are pinned on most people. I often see things so differently than what I perceive the world around me seems to be seeing. And I believe you do too… Why? Because while we may live in this world, as a follower of Jesus we are not of this world. You were born for such a time as this to bare his image and make him known.
You are uniquely created, every bit of who you are was planned. What makes you laugh, what moves you to tears….all of it was specifically designed. Jeremiah 1:5 says “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” Not one bit of who you are was a mistake or just by chance “happened”. The way you see the world is your very own perspective, breathed upon you when you were created and continuously molded by the life you have walked.
I have a hard time with this fact sometimes. You see my stubbornness is not always a good thing. There are parts of my personality tucked inside me that rather than being a strength it is flipped into my greatest weaknesses. I can really hurt the people around me. My stubbornness can steamroll right over people and leave wounds that I don’t even know I caused. I am stubborn and more often than not it is justified and unyielding, just as the definition states. In my justification of action, word or behavior I have to be extremely intentional to put people first. This is not easy for a task-driven, type A person. And so, I lean back into my creator and have conversations with him about why in the world he decided to create me this way…..and how in the world do I walk it out in love and in a way that highly values others while still being justifiably unyielding for the things God has caused my heart and life to leap for. I am learning to express the love I have for others even in the midst of wrestling with my weaknesses.
You too have facets of who you are that rub against the grain of everyday life. Those parts that sometimes lay dormant because it’s just easier for you to ignore them… but what if rather than putting part of who God made you to be on the shelf collecting dust, instead you learn how to master those areas in a way that brings God glory and allows you to be fully who he made you to be?
While the world says conform to the patterns of culture, God says transform the culture by following Jesus and being fully who he created you to be.
What parts of “you” do you wrestle with? Struggle with? Don’t like? Are you loud? Shy? Bossy? Cautious? A people pleaser? Flighty? A thinker? The list goes on and on…. We all have areas that one moment can be our biggest strength and then the next moment our biggest weakness. God wants us to walk in the freedom of being ourselves, simply being who he created us to be while pouring his love into the lives of the people around us.
I have not mastered this at all…but I have plenty of experience trying to figure it all out. Below are some of the most helpful steps I have taken in my life on the road to self-discovery.
- Take a Personality Test (if you haven’t already). I have taken many tests and read lots of books about how I am wired. It has been the single most helpful thing in realizing what makes me tick and how to interact with others! A friend of mine, Dr. Charles Coker, has helped me walk through so many dimensions of who I am. He has a free test on his website: http://lifethrive.com/ (click on the “Free Assessment” link and take the Behavior and Value test). This test will walk you through your wiring! Be honest in your answers, the more honest you are the more you will learn about yourself.
- Learn more about how to better manage the areas the test lists to improve. Read books and articles on the areas. Ask a few people closest to you to be honest about these areas of your personality and give you real feedback into your behaviors. Just so you know, this one can hurt. Hearing about your weaknesses is hard and painful, but it is also amazing motivation to improve how you walk out these parts of your make up. Embrace it and don’t be defensive, listen and learn….
- Write out a plan of action to intentionally improve and grow in each area. For me, this was the hardest part…. Because it meant working at it. It meant growing pains. It meant failing. And fyi, I still jack it up and get it wrong. My default button is always just a click away and it is so easy to go there instead of having self-control!
- Now that you’re seeing yourself clearer, take the next step. Read “Next Generation Leader” by Andy Stanley and do all the steps it instructs you to do! This is a fun one!!!! Enjoy the process.
- Did you know that your passion defines your calling? So often I talk with people who ask God the question “what am I supposed to do with my life?” While all along he has already instilled in them the answer. The things that stir you are the things you’re supposed to spend your life on! Write out what you’re passionate about. Make a list and put everything that comes to mind that you love on that page! Mine included simple things like camping, all the way to things like helping others discover their God given call on this earth. Over the years my list has gotten clearer and more specific and I am fully walking out the call of God on my life…. And I love it.
- As you walk down the road of self-discovery be gracious with yourself. You are not perfect and God does not expect that of you. You will screw up. You will get it wrong from time to time….and in some seasons, it may feel like you’re getting it wrong all the time. The point is not to be perfect and walk on eggshells, the point is to fully embrace who God made you to be and have the self-discipline to allow him to make each of those areas holy as he is holy. And in the process of becoming more and more like him…. He will use you to draw others to himself.
Find the freedom to be “YOU”. I am still on the journey myself… stubborn feet and all. But I am one step ahead of where I once was every time I move toward Jesus. And after all, isn’t that the goal, to be close to him.