I am the kind of person whose enthusiasm is infectious. I get excited about something, and I make sure everyone around me knows about it. I stir things up - people, hearts. Or, at least, I used to.
In my younger years I was all over the map in this respect. A starter - that's a good way to describe me. I'd see a need, feel passionately that it needed to be met, and whip myself and others into a frenzy to get something done. Examples abound:
- I started a dance program at my private high school (a place that supposedly emphasized a classical education but had no space for dance - gasp);
- I started a community service program at said high school (again, this is an Episcopal school focused on liberal education for well-to-do kids with no focus on giving back...nope, this was unacceptable to me so I did something about it);
- I helped found the first-ever Protestant student group at a Jesuit university in Mexico City (all Christian campus organizations up to that point were Catholic only);
- as a college student I lobbied Congress on behalf of student Pell Grant funding and found myself at the head of a procession of thousands of students nationwide (literally thousands).
I do NOT share these things to toot my own horn. On the contrary, I don't look back and think "wow, I'm pretty awesome." Instead, I look back and constantly struggle that I did not, have not, do not do enough. I only start things, you see - I rarely finish them.
For many years I was fueled by emotion. If I felt something, I acted on it. Until a very wise, dear friend challenged me with this: "Jenny, I think you've made feelings an idol in your life. You need to repent."
My response? Unabashed, intense anger. Furor, actually. I wanted to cuss this sweet fifty-something-year-old woman up, down and sideways. That's when I thought: "hmm, maybe she has a point." I got on my knees.
Not knowing what I was doing, I simply confessed to God that I often served my feelings rather than Him, looking to them to guide me, to tell me what was right or wrong, to show me how to act. I remember the night like it was yesterday. My body trembled as the anger that someone could dare tell me I feel too much coursed through my body. I could barely get it under control enough to steady my breathing.
That night changed my life. It was the beginning of a process of turning things upside down. Things that had once been paramount, occupying a pinacle-space, would now become subjugated to my true Head, the all-knowing, all-wise, trustworthy King of kings. I was a practicing Christian before this point - this was not a salvation moment. This was a repentance moment. This was one in a long series of choices I have made and will make as a Christian: Jesus first; me last.
Today I operate much differently. Instead of flying off the handle the minute I feel passionately about something, I simply acknowledge my feelings, validate them, and take note. I let them sit there and simmer. By so doing I learn if something - some One - more concrete than emotions is behind my passion, if there's really something to build on. Once I've simmered for a good, long while only then do I begin to ponder a course of action.
I must say I like this way of living much more. It's less exhausting and more fulfilling.
I'm writing about this today (perhaps it is obvious) because I'm in a process of simmering. I have felt the Holy Spirit tug me in the direction of a manuscript that, quite frankly, frightens me. It will require a lot of me to write. I will need skills that I feel incredibly weak in. In short, I will have to wholeheartedly rely on Him to get me through. The simmering phase is over. It's time to start writing. I will begin Thursday. Lord Jesus, have mercy.
I'm linking up with Soli Deo Gloria today. Check it out!