March 7, 2013

Touchy-Feely Thing-Things

Source: take.ms via Jaci Greggs on Pinterest

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.

12 comments:

  1. "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."

    This is exactly how I have been my entire life. I really do make an effort when I have to, but I always feel like whatever I said or did came off stupid. And then I will over-analyze it for days! It is definitely an area that I have to work on.

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  2. This was nice to read. I suck at feelings, too.

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  3. Thank you for sharing this. I'm much better with words than actions as well. Just know that just being there was a comfort to your friend.

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  4. I am good at feelings, but almost too good. I tend to share a story of mine similar to their situation to show empathy, when oftentimes people just want you to shut up and listen.

    I'm great at hugs and "I'm-sorry" and "I know how you feel" but I'm not good at just listening. You could teach me something about that. :)

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  5. Yessssssss. Introverts, unite! I SUCK at feelings. Explaining them, helping others with theirs... I never know what to say or how to say it, especially when it comes to people I don't know all that well.

    What's even worse is that my bio. dad is the same way. So when we Skype/FaceTime...half the time we're sitting there staring at each other trying to figure out what in the heck to say! It's awful, LOL. We're much better with emailing or texting.

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  6. I'm generally good with other people's feelings, as long as I somewhat like the person, but my own feelings are a complete mystery.

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  7. I love this. I think it's true for all sorts of ways God calls us to be holier and more like Him than we actually are. That's the (sometimes exceedingly uncomfortable) process of sanctification for you!

    I, myself, am good at feelings, but I'm working on so many others, including having the unending love and patience for my children that He has for us. :)

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  8. I just want to share a little something with you in hopes that it will encourage your growth. About a year ago I had that miscarriage. When I was in the midst of a very low point in my life and feeling very emotional, you showed up at my door with flowers. It spoke volumes to me and I'll never forget that. So you don't always suck at this ;)

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  9. I am an emotional person, but I struggle with the words to say to others as well. Even some of my best friends, I can't seem to feel as if I'm comforting them the way a best friend should. I'm available to listen, but there are always awkward questions in my mind- Should I hug them? Should I get them to talk more or stay silent? Is sharing scripture what they need right now?
    Thanks for posting this.

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  10. When faced with the emotions of others in distress, I usually have nothing "good" to say. Honestly though, I think most people just want someone to listen, hold their hand, give them a hug, or just generally be present with them. I am sure you are a fantastic listener/friend and if I wanted you to tell me something, I would totally respect you admitting your weakness of words relating to emotion.

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  11. I have a friend like you and I really appreciate her. A lot of times us girls get all emotional together and just go around in circles. But she's always able to keep her head. Sometimes I want to tell her to stop trying to fix my problem and just empathize with me, but most of the time I'm glad for her reaction :)

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  12. Thanks for posting this. I am an emotional person, but I'm not very good at knowing what to say or how to comfort a friend. I usually end up sitting there awkwardly, not knowing what to do.

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