Letting Our Messiness Out So We Can Heal

They say confession is good for the soul. Usually when I think of confession, though, I picture a scene from a crime drama. I’ve never really studied the idea in its Christian context until writing this post.

Recently during a small group meeting, a friend made the statement that holding in our mess can prevent healing. I quickly scribbled it down in my notes since that’s an idea I’ve been championing since I started talking more openly about my anxiety. To give you some context for this comment, we’d just read this verse:

Confess your offenses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The insistent prayer of a righteous person is powerfully effective. (James 5:16, WEB)

Given James’ word choices here, we can say for certain that he’s telling us there’s a connection between healing and openly acknowledging the ways we slip into error. The Greek words are specifically about confessing faults, offences, and trespasses. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch, though, to extend this principle to other struggles as well including those that are not, strictly speaking, sinful.

To share a personal example, trying to hide my mental health struggles only made them worse. I felt shame and guilt around my anxiety and depression. I worried that others would find out about them, which just increased my levels of anxiety. I didn’t start to find healing until I opened up about my struggles to friends, family, a counselor, and even publicly here on this blog.

Bringing Dark Things To Light

God has a habit of shining light into dark places. Jesus even went so far as to say “nothing is hidden that will not be revealed; nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light” (Luke 8:17, WEB). While God works in ways that are mysterious and sometimes hidden from us, there is no darkness in Him. He is all light and those who love Him want to walk in that light. Read more

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5 Relationship Problems INFJs Often Struggle With

INFJs long for relationships. Whether it’s close friendships or romantic partnerships, we’re hard-wired for connection (as are all people, really, though we approach it in different ways depending on personality type and individual differences).

As I think most people know, finding a good relationship is bloody difficult (side note: I may or may not watch too much British television). Today, though, we’re not going to talk about the relationship problems that everyone faces. We’re focusing on the problems that many INFJs find particularly troublesome. Other types (especially NFs and FJs) will probably identify with these struggles as well, and I’m sure INFJs also struggle with some relationships problems that aren’t on this list. Still, these five things seem to come up with more consistency for INFJs.

1) Hopes and Dreams vs. Reality

INFJs tend to have active imaginations. That combines to with INFJ idealism to develop some pretty spectacular expectations for relationships. In fact, David Keirsey identifies this as a trait of all Idealist (NF) types. He wrote,

In all areas of life, Idealists are concerned not so much with practical realities as with meaningful possibilities, with romantic ideals.  … if any type can be said to be “in love with love,” it is the NF. And yet, while they fall in love easily, Idealists have little interest in shallow or insignificant relationships. On the contrary, they want their relationships to be deep and meaningful, full of beauty, poetry, and sensitivity. (Please Understand Me II, p.142)

Keirsey goes on to say that NF types seek “a Soulmate” with whom they can have this “deep and meaningful” relationship. He also notes that “Idealists are asking their spouses for something most of them do not understand and do not know how to give” (p.146). As a single INFJ longing for romance, that’s one of the most depressing things I’ve ever read. It’s like we’re setting ourselves up for romantic failure. Read more

Battling Our Thorns In the Flesh

We’ve all “sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23, KJV). We know this, and repenting of those sins in our pasts and accepting Jesus as our savior to wash them away was a first step in becoming Christian. Even after conversion, though, we’re not perfect. God keeps forgiving us when we repent, but we still fall short of perfect obedience. I think it’s also fair to say all or most of us have struggled with some sins more than others.

I’m sure we can all think of someone else like this. Someone who you’d think has been in the church long enough to “get over” their bitterness, or lust, or covetousness, or whatever the particular problem is. But if we think about it, many of us are in the same boat. We’re often more understanding toward our own struggles, but we still have them. Or perhaps we’re even harder on ourselves than we are on others.click to read article, "Battling Our Thorns In the Flesh" | marissabaker.wordpress.com

So what do we do? How do we deal with our own sin struggles and react to those around us when they come short of God’s commands?

The Simple Answer

There are several ways people with a tendency toward a certain sin might react. They could ignore and hide it, ashamed to have thoughts and desires they know are wrong. They might flaunt it, choosing to live in sin because “that’s just how I am.”

The problem with the first is we have to face our struggles and talk about them with God, at the very least. You can’t overcome something you’re ignoring. With the second, the problem is that people who are openly and willfully sinning can’t be allowed to stay in the church (1 Corinthians 5). If you’re going to follow Christ, you have to stop practicing immorality. Read more

Not Wanting To Write

It’s about 4:30 in the afternoon Sunday as I write this. Usually by this time I’m either proof-reading a completed post for Monday or wrapping-up my work on a finished idea. What’s worse, I don’t even I care that haven’t written a post yet. I mean, I’d probably care tomorrow when I wake up and realize I failed all of you readers, but at this point I’ve had too little sleep and too much Netflix to function as my normal self.

Well, perhaps not entirely. At least I’m writing about not wanting to write. It’s a start. I’ve been writing professionally long enough to know you can’t just sit around waiting for inspiration to strike if you want to get a blog post, article, story or book written. People who do that aren’t writers.

Not Wanting To Write | marissabaker.wordpress.com
photo credit: “Content writer” by Ritesh Nayak, CC BY-SA via Flickr

If you aren’t a writer you can get away with not writing when you don’t want to. Hobbies and pastimes are voluntary. But when writing is what you do you don’t just stop. In fact, if you’re doing things right, most of the time it feels like you can’t stop writing. For writers, not-writing should feel stranger than writing.

There’s a myth out there that writing is easy (“Oh, so you’re a writer? That’s cool. I might write a novel in my spare time some day”). It’s not. Yes, there will be days when the words flow out and you’re convinced what you’re writing is pure genius and you just know these words have the power to touch people’s souls. But mostly you have to sit down everyday with your pen or your laptop or your typewriter and make the words move from brain to fingers.

 

Struggling to write is perfectly okay just so long as you don’t give up. I suppose it’s that way with most things, actually. Anything worth doing is going to be hard at some point. What’s important is that we don’t stop, at least not for long. By all means take a break, eat a little chocolate and watch some anime (my sister hooked me on Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood), but don’t stay there.

It’s about 7:30 in the afternoon as I finish writing this. Look at that — we’ve got a finished blog post, even with the distractions of searching for quotes about writing and playing Star Trek Online. And you know what? I think I just might keep writing. My short story collection needs one more story, and there’s a character named Taline just waiting to be discovered …

 

Voila, That’s Life, Enjoy It!

My sister and I had yesterday all planned out. Doctor Who in the morning, lunch with our cousin, then an afternoon of dress shopping for a dance in a couple weeks. The first complication happened when we thought we were running early so we swung by a dance store looking for shoes. We got lost, finally stopped at the store, and when we left the car wouldn’t start. Not too much of a complication though — we changed out the faulty fuse that’s been plaguing my sister’s car, and finally got to lunch 1/2 an hour late.

Lunch was great, so that part of the plan went well. But then the car wouldn’t start again and changing fuses didn’t cut it (the mechanic warned this day would come). So there we were, stuck in Raising Cane’s parking lot waiting for a tow truck driver and my sister was starting to see things, to put it delicately, in a rather negative light.

Now, I’m all for the occasional cry-and-eat-chocolate pity party, but the sun was shining and it was a beautiful fall day and we just ate an awesome lunch with our cousin. I mean, it’s not like we were in the middle of nowhere when it was raining and dark. So I rolled out a guaranteed negativity buster:

I watched this film more times than I care to admit when I was younger. I’m worried it won’t hold up well to rewatching, especially after reading Jules Verne’s original In Search of the Castaways, so I haven’t seen it in a while. But I could still (mostly) sing this song.

There’s really quite a bit of truth in “Enjoy It” for such a silly little song. So much of whether or not we have a “bad day” or a “good day” depends on how we respond to the things that happen to us. Advice like, “A hurricane comes your way, enjoy the breeze” sounds ridiculous, but the principle of reframing incidents and looking on the bright side is sound. As the song points out, there’s no point in crying about things we can’t change — “Each moment is a treasure, enjoy it!”

If there’s a complication, enjoy it!
You’ve got imagination, employ it!
And you’ll see roses in the snow,
Joie de vivre will make them grow,
Voila, that’s life, enjoy it!

What If …

Instead of my usual Bible Study type post for Saturday, I thought I would share a few of the Bible-related thoughts that have been rolling around in my mind lately. It would be awesome if these sparked a discussion in the comments 😉

Green and Blue

What if the sky and oceans are blue and plants are green because those are God’s favorite colors? I know about the scientific explanations for why chlorophyll in plant leaves is green and how the atmosphere scatters blue light, but I’m thinking about when the science behind the colors was created. I’m sure God could have set up the world so it looked purple and orange, or red and yellow, or any other combination of colors.

The really cool thing is, if you Google “Which colors are the most relaxing?” the top results are green and blue. Psychologists, designers, and certain philosophies all agree these are the most calming, peaceful colors. Blue triggers feelings of serenity, lower blood pressure, and people are more productive in a blue room. Green is calming, refreshing, and the easiest color for our eyes to look at. Isn’t it amazing that God surrounds us with colors designed to make us feel better?

Planks in Eyes

Reverendfun.com 01-23-2001What if the parts of the Bible we avoid the most are the parts we need to listen to the closest? Perhaps the verses that make us angry are the ones which should inspire us to search for planks in our eyes (Matt. 7:1-5).

Here’s  a couple examples I’ve been thinking about. The Bible teaches that women are to submit to their husbands (Eph. 5:22-24), not teach in church(1 Tim. 2:12), and maintain a physical appearance that clearly shows they are women instead of men (Deut. 22:5; 1 Cor. 11:2-15). Perhaps feeling threatened by such verses is a sign that we could be doing better at exercising Godly femininity. Similarly, there are plenty of verses instructing Christians not give the people of God a bad name by resisting human governments (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:17). Yet these verses are often ignored or scoffed at by those in the church who are most vocal politically. It bothers me.

Jesus and the MBTI

For my last “What if …?” I want to talk about a question that has lead several people to my blog recently. Looking at a summary of search terms used, I see “Jesus infj,” “is Jesus an infj?” and “was Jesus an infj.” Since people are ending up on my blog because of this question, I thought I would address it. To me, it seems almost sacrilegious to claim we’ve pinned down Jesus’s personality type. If there was ever anyone who couldn’t be classified or put into a single box, I think it would be Him. If, however, we accept the idea that personality types exist and people can be categorized by them at least loosely, having a specific personality type could have been part of Jesus’s experience when living a human life. With that as our foundation, I think it would be safe to say Jesus is most like the group David Keirsey called “Idealists.” Of this type, Keirsey says in the description on his website,

Idealists (NFs), as a temperament, are passionately concerned with personal growth and development. Idealists strive to discover who they are and how they can become their best possible self — always this quest for self-knowledge and self-improvement drives their imagination. And they want to help others make the journey.

From there, we have four Myers-Briggs types: the Teacher (ENFJ), the Counselor (INFJ), the Champion (ENFP), and the Healer (INFP). Though I’ve read arguments that go back and forth on whether Jesus was an introvert or an extrovert, I’m not going to offer my opinion or try to narrow this down any more.