Doing all the personality study INTJ stuff helped bring cohesion to some areas of my life that I was aware of but didn’t quite understand. A big one was feelings. It finally clicked, on a conscious level, that I’m not good with feelings. As I said over there, Ask me what I think about something, we’ll be here all night. As me how I feel about something, you might get 2 sentences.
This is a great thing when it comes to analyzing problems. I’m typically able to disconnect myself from a circumstance and figure out the various aspects dispassionately, eventually if not right away.
This is not a great thing when those problems involve actual people. Like, the other day, I was with a friend who was going through a difficult time. She was in some serious emotional distress. Feeling things. And I was standing there silent and dumbfounded. A more emotive person would probably have known exactly what to say and when to say it, when the friend needed to be hugged and if she might like a glass of water.
But there I am standing there, wondering if a pat on the shoulder would come across the right way or not. Probably not. I’ll just do nothing.
The other day, I was having my quiet time and I was reading 2 Cor. 1:3-5. Basically, it says that God will comfort us during difficult times, so that when other people are going through difficult times, we’ll turn around and share that comfort with them. Pretty neat concept, isn’t it? God literally “paying it forward” through me.
But I really struggle with that. When I think of “comforting,” I think of being the literal “shoulder to cry on,” and I shudder. That’s not my natural inclination.
I try. I try to reach out to people with words, because words are where I’m most comfortable, not gestures. But then, I’m also well aware that I have that wonderful acrobatic skill of walking around with my foot in my mouth. And I get on this infinite loop of wanting to say something/afraid of saying the wrong thing/want to say something/afraid to say the wrong thing that eventually I either give up or offer what I know is a pitiful gesture but it’s the best I can come up with.
And then, I realized something else.
One of my memory verses for my Bible Study group was 2 Corinthians 12:9. “But He said to me, "’My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore I will gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.” (Yup, typed that out from memory. Boo-yah.)
I have two choices with this epiphany. I can either let myself stay in my shell and do the bare minimum when it comes to giving people what they need emotionally, or I can embrace this as a real weakness (which it is) and let God use this weakness for His glory.
What do I mean by that? I mean, I can shamelessly proclaim loud and clear, “I suck at feelings.” Then, when the opportunity comes that I need to not suck at feelings, the Holy Spirit has an opening to show His power by helping me not suck at feelings. And then I have an opportunity to tell someone, “You know, this isn’t my natural self. My natural self would be to try and give you information to solve your problem and hope the ‘feelings’ side of things worked out on it’s own. But thanks to God and what He has done in me as His child, I have the ability to meet your needs in a way that isn’t natural to me. You might even call it ‘supernatural.’”
Not in those exact words, but you get the idea. I can securely say, “This is a weakness,” because by doing that, I’m allowing God to give me His strength to make me stronger than I am naturally. For more on this, I highly recommend this article, which explores this concept more thoroughly.
So, that’s my epiphany for this week. And I extend the challenge to you. What areas of your life are you naturally weak in? How can God use those areas to show His power, to you and to the world? That might sound like a scary thing to explore, but trust me, it’s one of the most freeing, empowering discoveries you can make. Try it and see.