So towards the end of last year I had profiling done on myself through the Flippen Group. I’ll just post a direct quote from my report to explain it’s purpose:
“Congratulations! You have taken part in a powerful process to gain self-awareness and map out a plan for growth. The Flippen Profile provides you with a unique fingerprint of how you view yourself and how you are perceived by others. This report is intended to provide you with a foundation for your personal growth. The data, descriptions and interpretations all provide insight on where you are and help point you to actions for further improvement.”
So you complete a survey and then have 6 friends/co-workers complete the survey about you as well, they compile the data and send you a report and you also receive a phone call to explain the report and discuss it’s results. You receive the phone call before the report (probably to soften the blow, lol), and to be honest I was left feeling quite confused after my call. It was not at all what I expected, and it took me several days/weeks to fully process both the call and the report. In the end, I think I’ve found it quite enlightening and motivating? Guess time will tell.
Lyle Wells, the Flippen man, challenged me during our phone call to consider whether I was doing the right things in life, he could sense in my report a stress between who I am, how I am living/feeling, and how others view me. He commented something to the effect of, “don’t live in a box others have designed for you”. He was surprised when I told him I have very low stress levels because that is not what the reports show. I was confused by all this after the call, because I had been expecting to hear something like, “hey, so you’re pretty critical”, or “kind of lazy and unmotivated”, or… I don’t even know what I expected. I didn’t expect to be told I was an “off road vehicle living a minivan life”. lol
Jon and I discussed this at length, and I admit to feeling frustrated because I truly believe that while I may not be living the ultimate FUN life, or living out all my wildest dreams, I do feel like fundamentally I am doing the RIGHT things. I wanted kids more than I wanted to travel for example, and having kids means life changes and is more restrictive in some ways- but still full of joy and great things. I homeschool because I think it’s best for my kids, even though homeschooling is actually not my happy place. Sometimes I feel guilty admitting that, because I am so blessed to have the opportunity to homeschool and a husband that 100% supports me, but the truth is that it’s just not my favourite. But then, isn’t that just life? Sometimes we sacrifice what would be good and fun for what is best, right? Doesn’t mean the best has to be miserable, because as Christians we know joy isn’t dependant on circumstances, and also I’m not crazy enough to suggest that homeschooling my kids is torture either. It’s just a job, like everyone has in their lives. Somedays it’s ok, somedays it sucks, regardless it needs doing.
So what does Lyle want me to do about that?! Flout my responsibilities and go in search of adventure in the great wide somewhere?! (yes of course my Disney princess personality has always been Belle!)
But… for all that there is something to what Lyle was saying. After reading my report carefully I believe what he interpreted as massive stress was actually a deep deep discontent. He said he saw it in both Jon and I (he had it done as well), that for all our differences Jon and I are cut from the same cloth and not “opposites attract” as I had thought. Jon and I have restless spirits. We have both always seen it as a spiritual struggle, which, while I still believe it is deeply rooted in the spiritual, I am also beginning to see that we could possibly work on it in other ways as well.
The most eye opening part of the report was at the end where I was provided with my top 3 personal constraints. It’s not fun to bare all, but I’m going to share them anyway. My 3 were low-dominance (need to lead or be in control), low self-confidence (overall belief in yourself and your abilities), and low need for achievement (internal drive and intensity), and when I say low, I mean LOW. Bottom of the charts low. Immediately upon reading those I saw in black and white what I have felt for a long time but didn’t have the right words to explain. I have given up and checked out. Somewhere over the last couple of years I’ve lost something… I don’t know… a spark? I’ve felt it across all areas of my life. I don’t want to try at anything, be involved in much of anything, be bothered by anything. My walk with the Lord has drifted and limped along, I know He forgives me, but I’m sick of myself and my failures and I don’t want to face them (as relationship with God causes us to do). My blogging has dropped off because I feel like I have nothing to say, nothing to add, and don’t want to share any scrap I do have. Hy heart has grown critical and shallow and empty. My default is to retreat into books or media and just hunker down and get through. For those that have been there, you know as I have learned- that you can live without really living at all. I still do stuff and have good days and whatnot, but there is just this underlying flatness to it all.
“Sooner or later we are confronted with the painful truth of our inadequacy and insufficiency. Our security is shattered and our bootstraps are cut. Once the fervour has passed, weakness and infidelity appear. We discover our inability to add even a single inch to our spiritual stature. There begins a long winter of discontent that eventually flowers into gloom, pessimism, and a subtle despair-subtle because it goes unrecognized, unnoticed, and therefore unchallenged. It takes the form of boredom, drudgery. We are overcome by the ordinariness of life, by daily duties done over and over again. We secretly admit that the call of Jesus is too demanding, that surrender to the Spirit is beyond our reach. We start acting like everyone else. Life takes on a joyless, empty quality. We begin to resemble the leading character in Eugene O’Neill’s play The Great God Brown: “Why am I afraid to dance, I who love music and rhythm and grace and song and laughter? Why am I afraid to live, I who love life and the beauty of flesh and the living colours of the eartha nd sky and sea? Why am I afraid to love, I who love love?”
Something is radically wrong.”
It feels sort of like… depression? But that’s tricky to say because my life is full of really awesome things. My blessings are pouring out my eyeballs. I don’t have real worries or circumstances to get a girl down. I’ve been provided for and loved and have people to love and serve and my health and oh my word- what on EARTH could I be depressed about?! I know that depression doesn’t work like that, but I still don’t feel like the word fits exactly, so I’m not going to use it. Now that I’ve defined the problem, what I need to do is find out where the spark has gone and chase it down.
Certainly it is first and foremost spiritual. I’ve talked many times about what a legalist heart I have. It’s killing my relationship with the Lord because I’m constantly holding sins against me that He doesn’t even see anymore! I reject His grace. In a book that I think it just about the greatest after the Bible, The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning wrote: “Unfaithfulness is a refusal to become, a rejection of grace (grace that is inactive is an illusion), and the refusal to be oneself… The disparity between our ideal self and our real self, the grim specter of past infidelities, the awareness that I am not living what I believe, the relentless pressure of conformity, and the nostalgia for lost innocence reinforces a nagging sense of existential guilt: I have failed. This is the cross we never expected and the one we find hardest to bear.”
Oh that’s me. Rejecting grace and refusing to even be myself.
I had some ideas I was going to expand on, and perhaps I will another day. But not an hour ago I read this:
“Do you live each day in the blessed assurance that you have been saved by the unique grace of our Lord Jesus Christ? After falling flat on your face, are you still firmly convinced that the fundamental structure of reality is not works but grace? Are you moody and melancholy because you are still striving for the perfection that comes from your own efforts and not from faith in Jesus Christ? Are you shocked and horrified when you fail? Are you really aware that you don’t have to change, grow, or be good to be loved?
Do you possess that touch of folly to transcend doubt, fear, and self-hatred and accept that you are accepted?
If not, you probably belong to the brotherhood of the bedraggled, beat-up, and burnt out. You may feel like a charred log in a fireplace, totally drained of energy, and unable to light a fire in yourself. Your personal inner resources appear to be exhausted.”
(oh my word. God is uncanny in His timing.)
“The first step toward rejuvenation begins with accepting where you are and exposing your poverty, frailty, and emptiness to the love that is everything. Don’t try to feel anything, think anything, or do anything. With all the goodwill in the world you cannot make anything happen. Don’t force prayer. Simply relax in the presence of the God you half believe in and ask for a touch of folly.
The Indian poet Tagore puts it this way:
No, it is not yours to open buds into blossoms.
Shake the bud, strike it; it is beyond your power to make it blossom.
Your touch soils it, you tear its petals to pieces and strew them in the dust.
But no colours appear, and no perfume.
Ah! It is not for you to open the bud into blossom.
He who can open the bud does it so simply.
He gives it a glance, and the life-sap stirs through it’s veins.
At his breath the flower spreads its wings and flutters in the wind.
Colours flush out life heart-longings, the perfume betrays a sweet secret.
He who can open the bud does it so simply.”
(All quotes in this post are by Brennan Manning)
But look, I am going to seduce her and lead her into the desert and speak to her heart. There I shall give her back her vineyards, and make the Vale of Anchor a gateway of hope. There she will respond as when she was young, as on the day when she came up from Egypt.
Isaiah 49:1, 15-16
Yahweh called me when I was in the womb, before my birth he had pronounced my name… Can a woman forget her baby born at the breast, feel no pity for the child she has borne? Even if these were to forget, I shall not forget you. Look, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands, your ramparts are every before me.
After saying this, what can we add? If God is for us, who can be against us? Since he did not spare His own Son, but gave him up for the sake of all of us, then can we not expect that with him he will freely give us all his gifts?