Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

8.26.2016

Was Jesus an Introvert or an Extrovert?



I remember the first time a friend enlightened me as to the definition of an introvert: "It means you get your energy and recharge from being by yourself."

I had never heard the concept explained so simply before, and the definition definitely described me. I was fascinated, and I soon noticed this topic cropping up everywhere. In the beginning I chalked it up to the phenomenon that occurs when you learn something new and inevitably the new word stalks you from radio shows and bumper stickers and sky-writing. But as a few years have passed since that first discovery, one would think the phenomenon would pass too, but instead I have noticed two ever-increasing trends:
{scientific statistics alert}

1. A whole lot of people whom I would have dubbed extroverts actually called themselves introverts. And...
2. A whole lot of people in general like to talk about this topic at length. In fact, if you have a self-described introvert who won't make conversation about anything else, simply bring up the topic of introversion, and you will be hard pressed to change the subject. 

Understanding personality types has helped me understand others' perspectives and shape my responses in some very effective ways, but I began to wonder: We're talking about it a lot, but does the Bible have anything to say about introverts and extroverts? Is one more godly than the other? Is all this focus on personality really good or is there a limit to the benefits of navel-gazing?

Fast-forward to another conversation with a different friend, and as I was beginning to ask these questions of myself, I asked her if she were an introvert or an extrovert. She declined to classify herself as either, saying simply that she was trying to avoid a self-focus, and couldn't help but see the wisdom in her response. 
So is there any redeeming value in learning about your personality tendencies? I turned to God's Word, and here is what I discovered:

1. We are uniquely different, but united in glorifying God.
Personality groupings are helpful, but ultimately fall short.

Whether you're an INFP or an AARP, it feels good to belong and fit in with a group of people who "get" you. I know the feeling! It's not wrong to seek commonalities with those around you, but you have to realize that any grouping is ultimately simplistic. Even experts on the subject will readily agree to the fact that these types are generalizations. 

The truth is that God has created us all unique {Psalm 139:16, 1 Peter 4:10-11}, with subtle differences in our personalities and perspectives, our strengths and weaknesses. These differences cannot be wholly grasped by a personality test, helpful though it may be.

And although we are all different, whenever the Bible speaks of gifts or strengths, it speaks of using them for the unified purpose of glorifying God. So if I box myself into the type of an introvert and tell myself that because of my introversion it is fine to not push my comfort zone, I am missing the whole point and indulging in the self-focus my friend mentioned. Selfishness was a nagging problem I had with this whole topic as it is my weakness and can be the weakness of the personality-obsessed as well. "Discover your personality, not so you can better serve God, but so you can keep yourself happy and satisfied."

2 Timothy 3:2 prophesies that "men will be lovers of themselves" in the last days. Feeding my desires for introverted comfort can definitely lead to becoming a lover of self just as feeding extroverted desires could lead to being a man-pleaser. Those are the extremes, I grant you. But here's the bottom line: we were created to glorify God {Isaiah 43:7}, and any understanding of personality type is only helpful as far as it aids in that purpose. Which brings me to the next thing I've learned...

2. We are new creations when we are saved, and all things have become new.
Personality tendencies can be insightful, but should not be used as an excuse.

Are personalities too sacred to be sanctified? Not according to 2 Corinthians 5:17: " Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."

K.B. Napier writes,"Man cannot alter his own personality, it is argued, because his personality and 'drives' are inborn and handed-down by evolution. Any defects, nasty as some of them are, must just be accepted as they appear in each individual. This idea runs through much of our social sciences and it is unfortunately expressed by the majority of Christians. And it is wrong. People become new creatures when they are saved....The change of personality by the Holy Spirit is not an option for special types of Christian.  It is required of us all, by God."

Thankfully, God's principles and commands in Scripture provide balance to our lives and personalities. Knowing that I want to be alone when I'm tired or not cram every day full of activity is a helpful insight to not burning myself out. But I have to understand that sometimes these desires turn selfish. God doesn't call me to take the road of ease or least stress, but He does call me to obey Him even when it is the last thing I want to do. 

So if a friend or family member needs help, and I find my blood pressure rising because I was just about to have some "me" time, I have two options: I can use my "introvert" status as an excuse, or I can realize that I am now at the end of myself and my strength, and turn to the power of the Holy Spirit like I should have been doing all along. 

With the right perspective, insight into my natural weaknesses and strengths can actually help me mature in Christ {Mt. 26:41, 1 Cor. 1:27}, but it does not give me a free pass to ignore certain commands of God because they go against my personality. And whether I am an introvert or an extrovert, above all as a Christian I am wholly a new creation in Christ! 

3. Understanding how Jesus related to God and others can help us think Biblically about our personalities.
Neither being introverted nor extroverted is automatically more godly, but both can have this weakness in common: looking to man for fulfillment.

So was Jesus an introvert or an extrovert?
Asking this question revealed a much deeper answer than I was expecting! Matthew 14:23 provides a great example of what was a habitual occurrence in Jesus' life: " And when {Jesus} had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there."

Jesus spent time with the multitudes, and just that word "multitudes" challenges the introverted me.
But there came a time in His day when He sent them away, a difficulty for the extroverts out there.
However, it was what He did in that alone time that is key: He didn't look within, and He didn't look to others; He looked to His Father in Heaven.

So there you have it.
Introverts, we like to look in.
Extroverts, they tend to look out.
Believers need to look up.

“Recharging Danbo Power,” © 2013 Takashi Hososhima, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

8.02.2016

I Want All the Books!

I vividly remember the day that a book first captivated me. Mama sat me down, handed me Little House in the Big Woods, and told me to read for an hour. I was less than thrilled, not sure what the "big woods" were all about, but certain that the "big words" would be dry and dull. Several hours later I had to be pried from the pages, and I was hooked for life. 

So in the spirit of sharing this passion with you, today I am answering a book-lover's tag! (I compiled the questions from several different sources.)
1. Name a book you’re embarrassed to say you haven’t read yet.
The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis.  Somehow, someway, I have read every other Narnia book except for this one...

2. What is the strangest thing you’ve ever used as a bookmark?
The receipt for the book itself.

3. Look at your bookshelf. What’s the first book you see with a yellow spine?
My beautiful Anna-Bond-illustrated edition of Heidi.
 
4. If you could have one new book from a deceased author, who would it be?
This is difficult, but I will choose Jane Austen. I still haven't read all of her books, as I am legitimately concerned about my mental state when I finish the final page of her final book and realize I have to go the rest of my life without a new Jane Austen. So I resort to rationing myself to an Austen a year and admitting that I am a weird book nerd.

5. Name an author who deserves more readership.
G.K. Chesterton, without a doubt. Have you read his books? If not, get thee to a bookstore or library and pick up The Man Who Was Thursday!

6.  Bookmark or random piece of paper?
I want to be a bookmark person, I really do. But most of the time I resort to a random piece of paper (or receipt, as the case may be!).

7. Can you stop anywhere in a book or do you have to finish the chapter?
Anywhere is fine unless the chapters are quite short.

8.  One book at a time or several?
Always several!  Currently reading: The Innocence of Father Brown and The Book That Made Your World.

9.  Do you read ahead or skip pages?
Gasp. Is skipping allowed?

10.  Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?
Keep it like new as long as possible!

11. What books do you regret reading?
The Light that Failed by Rudyard Kipling. It was one of those books that you keep trudging through, sure that it cannot get any worse, and that after the main character loses his childhood sweetheart, goes blind, and finds his last masterpiece destroyed by a bitter servant there must be some redeeming ending. But then he died in his best friend's arms, and I was angry at Rudyard Kipling for a year.

12. On average, how many books do you read per year?
I don't really know. Up to 30, I would guess.

13. What book can you read hundreds of times and never get tired of?
The Scarlet Pimpernel--It is the best adventure/mystery tale ever!

14. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from a book?
I read the old book Ester Ried when I was 11, and it played a huge part in my maturing process from a baby Christian to a dedicated Christ-follower.  It made me realize that I could be sleep-walking through life without even realizing it, stagnant and unfruitful while thinking that I was fine. This book woke me up to the reality of living for Christ daily.

15. What is the most recent book you’ve read?
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. I only decided to trust Kipling again because I wanted to read the original story before I watched the new movie, and I actually very much enjoyed it!

16. What quote from any book will you never forget? Why is it significant?
“In all they said, in their actions, in their looks, in their persons, could be detected a soft spot, the place of decay, the determination to lounge safely through existence.” -Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim
The book itself was very forgettable, but this quote has stuck with me as a challenge, for I never want this to be true of me.

17. How many books do you own?
Hold on...3 hours later...a total of only 218 books. "Hi, I'm Lauren, and I'm addicted to real books. Kindle just won't cut it."

18. Of the past year, what is the greatest book you’ve read?
The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization by Vishal Mangalwadi. Although I am not quite done reading this tome, it is one of those books that I find myself constantly bringing up in conversation or referencing in my own mind as I observe culture around me. It is a truly amazing read by an incredible man from India who challenges the West from the perspective of someone from the East, saying, "The Bible created the modern world of science and learning because it gave us the Creator's vision of what reality is all about. That is what made the modern West a reading and thinking civilization. Postmodern people see little point in reading books that do not contribute directly to their career or pleasure. This is a logical outcome of atheism, which has now realized that the human mind cannot possibly know what is true and right. This book is being published with a prayer that it will help revive a global interest in the Bible and in all the great books."

So let's start a revival of global interest in all the great books together! If you are a fellow book-lover, I would greatly enjoy hearing your answers to these questions! So comment below with your thoughts or do the tag on your blog and comment with the link so I can get some new book ideas.

Now, if you don't mind, I think I have some books to read!

4.11.2016

Single Identity

I recently shared my testimony with a special group of women, and now I am posting a portion of it here in hopes it might bless someone else!
 
I was actually quite content to be single all through my teens.  But there came a day in my early twenties when a good friend told me out of the blue that she had begun a courtship, and suddenly my "contentment" evaporated. It was very easy for me to think that I was content and happy with my singleness until He gave others relationships. And, like the child whining because a sibling got a bigger scoop of ice cream, I started to feel sorry for myself, wondering, "Why does she get to get married and I don't?" And it was then that the first lie about singleness began to creep into my thinking and subtly affect how I viewed myself.


Lie #1: This lie says that if marriage is a gift from God, then it is inherently unfair that I am doing what is right and still am not married.

If I indulge this attitude I am loving God only for what I can get from Him, not for Himself. I am saying that the reward for my righteousness is whatever makes me happy--like marriage--and if I don't get it, then life is not fair!


Truth #1: The reward for righteousness is God Himself, and salvation. 

If I remain single my whole life that doesn't mean that I didn't win the prize--because the prize is Christ! If I have Him in singleness or in marriage, I have enough.


Lie #2: I am not married because I am not good enough. 

Not beautiful enough, not interesting enough. Or I'm too introverted, too much of a book worm, or too conservative. This is not only a lie of Satan, but it was a huge warning sign that I had placed my identity in what others thought of me, not in my position in Christ. If you have struggled with falling for this lie, it may be a warning sign of a misplaced identity in your life as well. Many women of the world also recognize these thoughts as lies, but they respond with equally as empty proclamations of feminism. 


Truth #2: Only God defines my worth.

The truth is that I was expecting marriage to validate that I was worthy of being loved: I was making marriage my god, and I was unsatisfied, for only God defines my worth.
There are so many amazingly encouraging verses I could share, but I will just share this one that tells me that God chose before the foundations of the world to adopt me. 

Ephesians 1:3-6 " Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved."

My value is not found in what others think of me: if it were, I would be sunk! It is not even found in my own righteousness, for my righteousness is no cleaner than filthy rags! My identity, whether in this stage of singleness, or possibly in marriage in the future, is found in my position in Christ.

Although part of my purpose right now is preparing myself with the qualities and skills a wife and mother would need to have, those are characteristics any godly woman should have! But my purpose also includes living for Christ now. Being content with what I have now. Being a servant now. Don't wait for "later" or for a magical wedding day to jumpstart your life! 

God brought me through this identity change several years ago, and when I realized that my place of singleness is not just a waiting around time but is actually God's best for me right now, I was able to then discover that God has a purpose for this time in my life.  The amazing providential thing is that at that point when I was learning contentment I never could have dreamed that in just a year or so my contentment would be tested in an even bigger way.  

I went from having friends begin relationships to having my identical twin sister and best friend starting a courtship, getting married, and moving across the continent.  I am so grateful to look back now and see that before that happened God was preparing me to trust in Him, to take Him as my reward, to find my worth in Him, to rest in His will for me, and to identify myself by my relationship with Him, not my relationship status.  When I truly accepted and believed who I am in Christ and that this time of my life is His very best for me right now, it made going through all of those life changes so much easier!

The beauty and mystery of each of our life stories will come into focus only from the vantage point of eternity.  For then we will realize that even the God-ordained relationship of marriage is only temporary, and that when I stand before Him in Heaven I will be accepted as part of His Bride, the church.  And that is my beautiful and true identity!


P.S.To read about a third and fourth lie we can be tempted to believe about singleness, check out these posts:
Single Jesus
The Myth of the No Man's Land Between Childhood and Marriage

“I Spy,” © 2011 Flood G, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

3.25.2016

Purposeful Easter

I ponder traditions a bit more, now that it's up to Joel and me to make them happen! Easter has so many fun traditions (dyeing Easter eggs, receiving Easter baskets, enjoying church breakfasts, and gathering with family and friends), but I especially cherish the more meaningful moments that point me back to Christ and His resurrection.



{1} Good Friday Service

Growing up, Ron and Sandi (my grandparents in everything but blood relation) always took my siblings and I to a community-wide, midday Good Friday service. This is such a beautiful tradition, because it helps me to slow down and pause on Good Friday. In the midst of busy Easter preparations, it's a time to contemplate the sorrow and suffering my Savior endured on my behalf.

{2} Resurrection Cookies

Find the recipe here, which guides you through making meringue cookies in which each ingredient symbolizes an event in the arrest, crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. 

{3} Resurrection Eggs

I love how easy these eggs make it to focus on Christ's sacrifice for us in the days leading up to Easter Sunday! Each adorable egg has a miniature object inside representing a part of the story. Children love opening the eggs and finding the treasure inside! I saw them at Hobby Lobby this year, but you can also order them online

{4} Easter Garden

My Mom makes a lush miniature garden every year, usually incorporating hyacinths and pansies into her recreation of the tomb scene. Easter morning brought the excitement of waking up to find the stone had been rolled away--and the tomb was empty! Learn how to make one here and here

{5} Passion Play

Attending a local play is such a great way to refocus on the agony of Holy Week and the joy and hope of Easter Sunday!

{6} A Graveyard Walk

We're planning to begin this tradition this year, made all the more convenient by the fact that we live mere blocks from a 150 year-old cemetery which holds more than 34,000 graves. Cemeteries are sobering places, but did you ever consider how Jesus' disciples and followers spent a good deal of time tombside on the day Christ rose from the dead? Seeing so many markers representing so many souls now absent from their physical bodies is also a reminder of how our Lord conquered death--and the victory Easter brings to every person who trusts in Jesus Christ as his Savior!

What are your Easter traditions? I'd love to hear them!


Past Easter Celebrations:



Good Friday Blog Posts:




Photo Credit

3.18.2016

What Would You Do for $13 Million?



 
Yesterday I learned of a baseball player who made a decision that is inciting both controversy and passion, and I am fascinated.  Adam LaRoche is a White Sox player who I (an admittedly sports-illiterate person!) had never heard of before I read this article.  But as I read I was inspired by this man who brought his son to baseball practice every single day.  His 14 year old son would clean cleats, help out, and just watch his dad, and last year the Chicago Tribune dubbed him the team's "26th man." 

But recently, Adam's boss gave him an ultimatum: he had to reduce or eliminate the days he brought his son in with him. (After all, the boss reasoned, where else can you bring your son in to work with you?) Adam LaRoche chose to retire early, losing out on $13 million dollars left in his contract.

$13,000,000. 

The story is still unfolding, but nevertheless I am blown away by what his decision proclaims to the world. After all, this is not an issue of right or wrong.  It would certainly not be morally wrong to simply reduce the number of days his son came with him.  But Adam faced a choice, and he knew his decision would send a clear message of who or what he valued. 

If Adam had allowed the promise of personal gain to keep his son home, he would have been admitting to his son what really mattered to him and what really controlled him.  He would have been saying that he prioritized his son when nothing better was on the horizon, but when money was on the line his son took second place.   The reason we are even talking about this situation is because Adam didn't do that: he "put his money where his mouth is" in the most literal turn of that phrase.

And even $13,000,000 could not change his mind.

How strong am I--how strong are you--on the beliefs that are a core part of who God made us to be and that equip us to fulfill the mission He has given us?  Is there any rationalization by which we could be convinced to change those values for personal gain?  Let me put it this way: what is your price?

Can curious sideways glances keep you from praying before a meal?
How much money would it take before you agreed to skip church to take a job?
Does your family take backseat when better offers come along?

Adam LaRoche walked away from $13,000,000, and in doing so he made a powerful statement his son will never forget.  His son will never wonder if money is more important to his dad than he is.  His son will never question whether or not his dad has a price at which his priorities will implode.  His son will never doubt that his dad means what he says.

But I am convicted because I wonder if I would have been bought out for a lot less.  And as painful as it is to think about, every time we are bought out, we negate to the world who watches the sincerity of everything we have done before. 


If my life values are not important enough to withstand the pull of personal gain, then how much did I ever truly value them?


A plaque in my room reads in bold, all capital letters: "If you stand for nothing you will fall for anything."

So ask yourself honestly what you stand for: Would 13 million dollars be enough to buy you out?

Sources: http://www.foxsports.com/mlb/story/adam-laroche-chicago-white-sox-retire-ken-williams-son-clubhouse-drake-family-031616
http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/adam-laroche-white-sox-manager-told-bring-son/story?id=37758766
“A Great Moment at the End of a Great Season,” ©2011 clappstar, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/.

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