Friday, September 7, 2012

Swirly

I’m often reading information about how to love and encourage all types of people. Part of this is due to my personality type, in which I whole-heartedly aim to be an encourager, a champion of people, and help them see and know their value (if you have interest, read about ENFJs here…it’s pretty much like reading a page out of my brain). 
 
But also because I’m in a place of leadership. In work and in student ministries. I want to be flexible with the people under my care and know that they all learn differently, and adjust my thinking, strategies, etc. to best care for and lead them. This is true with anyone, really, but particularly those I’m placed in leadership over.  
 
Recently (though it was written a while back), I read an article about right brain thinkers in a left brain world. It was interesting and something I’ve thought about a lot since reading it, particularly for myself as I swing toward the right brain side. I also remember this ad campaign by Mercedes that I think ran last year:
 

I’ve often been told in my life that I’m different. On one hand, being different is good. On the other, sometimes it feels like different = weird, too complicated, a mess.

I resonate a lot with artists, though I wouldn’t call myself one (though I love the arts). I think about the misunderstood souls of Beethoven, Van Gogh, Matisse, Fitzgerald, and even people I know personally who are artists. People appreciate the beauty they create, yet they’re often considered weirdos or crazy. I think perhaps they were just deep in their right-brainedness and creative minds.

In that article I referenced, one particular quote stands out to me: Right brains don't explain what they feel well and are misunderstood. They think of one thing, and say another because their brain has already moved on to another thought. Combine that with this relating to my personality: ENFJs tend to define their life's direction and priorities according to other people's needs, and may not be aware of their own needs. It's natural to their personality type that they will tend to place other people's needs above their own, but they need to stay aware of their own needs so that they don't sacrifice themselves in their drive to help others.

While these elements are generalizations and of course there are intricacies that often arise, I’m beginning to learn something about myself.

First, I am driven by others. I am willing to do anything to encourage, care for, and love others. I think this element of my personality is exacerbated by my heart for the Lord. I take so seriously his urging to love others in Christ and to walk through life in the Acts church. I pray continually for others and implore the Lord’s guidance in how I can love them as he does. My motivations in caring for and loving others are intrinsic, but also driven by my love for Christ. I most certainly do not do this perfectly, so I ask the Lord to help me and to help me know and see when I screw up and to help me humbly ask for forgiveness.

Secondly, I often feel things, but have no idea why or what to do with it. Along with being right brained and ENFJ, I’m also an external processor so truly process best by just talking things out. Unfortunately, this talking typically comes out in a very messy, all-over-the-place manner. I think this is exacerbated by the fact that I often see this world very differently so fear the crazy looks I’ve gotten in my life. I see it through the lens of a creative mind and one through other people.

These two learnings have come to a head recently for me, and I realized this morning when spending time with the Lord that I battle them as I feel this intense pressure to be orderly, neat, tidy, and wrapped-up in a perfectly designed package. I feel if I allowed the stream of consciousness or the swirl of colors and sounds to escape, I’ll probably overwhelm others and end up alone…which is challenging since I’m a people person and loneliness is my least favorite thing (yet one I battle often).

I told the Lord that I’m not entirely sure what to do with this, but that I want to release the pressure. I want to not be afraid to let the mess escape, as that picture above so beautifully depicts. I want to stop relenting to the pressure, be it internal pressure or external, to fit in a box. I want to stop being scared of what others think if I’m not in the box (again, challenging since I want to love people well) and just be the creative, wild, spontaneous, people-loving, musical person that he’s made me to be.

I’m not entirely sure how to do this, though. Prayerful the Lord, the most creative, people-loving, unique being ever, can help guide me.

For whatever reason, the Lord seems to have me on a path lately of learning how to be the person he created me to be. I'm definitely appreciative, but it is kinda weird as I'm not sure who I've been the last 31 years...