Friday, October 26, 2012

Trusting your Gut... or Not

Hi there! It's almost November. WHAT? How did this even happen? If you're like me, this fall has seriously flown by. I can't even tell you what I've been doing or how things are going because honestly, I can't keep track of what day it is. Time flies when you're having fun, I guess.

Anyway, I've been thinking a lot lately about how our culture views intuition. I would argue that we, as American's, are certainly a data-driven, results-based, logical set of people. We evaluate staff performance using numerical values for what tend to be vague ideas (such as "enthusiam"), we make pro- and con- lists to inform decisions, we bury our children in standardized tests and curriculum aligned to various 5-point scale standards, and we're trying desperately to keep up with China and India to produce more "knowledge workers" as the world becomes more focused on science, technology, engineering, and math careers. This is clearly not my area of strength.

And yet, we also display this underlying current of wanting to trust what we deeply feel to be true, even in the face of contradictory, logical information.

(This election just may be the perfect example of this phenomenon, but that is another post for another time!)

There is an entire market now for classes, books, and trainings that show people how to reconnect to their emotions, and perhaps more importantly, their intuition. We watch the "Long Island Medium," and read "Blink," and think that maybe there's something we're missing. Is it because we really care? Or because we don't want to be outpaced by others who might be using this "secret skill" of connecting with a 6th sense of some sort? I'm not sure, but I definitely think it's interesting.

Why? Because my intuition STINKS. I think my intuition is darn near broken.

Years of struggling with anxiety has thrown my system out of whack. That flight or fight mode that's supposed to alert you to danger? It goes off when I'm clearly perfectly safe. The surge of adrenaline that is supposed to help you lift cars off the ground when someone is trapped? It kicks in whenever it  pleases. And even worse, that reality-sensor that helps you distinguish between a pulled muscle and and an obviously about-to-burst appendix? Non-existent.

In my life, my gut always tells me it's the about-to-burst appendix, if not something worse.

So then what? What happens when "trust your gut" isn't an option because YOUR GUT TELLS YOU LIES?

You realize that what you're believing is not your gut, but fear, and that the lies you hear are not from you but from Satan...because he knows that the thorn in MY side is actually in my gut.

Sometimes I get jealous of people who seem to have an instinctive knowledge of what to do or what's going on. I get frustrated that I can't trust my own brain to tell me the truth. I get upset that I expend so much energy trying to figure out where the anxiety response is coming from, only to realize that, again, it's a false alarm stemming from no actual threat.

But then I think... this thorn in my gut makes me turn to others and turn to Him. If I know I can't trust my gut or my brain to give me the truth, I seek His Truth more fervently. If I can't convince myself that I'm not dying (...again), I connect with those around me for reassurance more frequently. If this fear response is helping me to "lean not on my own understanding," and "keep from thinking of myself too highly," and if it reminds me, constantly, of the call to die to myself so that I may live fully in Him... then it's okay. It's more than okay; it's the greatest gift I've ever received, short of the Lord himself through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

It's amazing to see how the Lord really can use all things for His good... even take an area of my weakness that Satan frequently makes a home in, and use it to steer me ever closer to Him and His truth.

It's heavy, right? Having to break out of this "rely on logic stance" AND this "rely on feelings" stance to gain the (much more important) "rely on God" stance.

But it's worth it, because THAT is where the Truth is. That is where we should be studying, and that is what is going to help us get ahead on the correct path.

So, I say... trust your gut? No, trust your God. You'll get a better answer that way.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Helping, by M

Ever since I first started my new job nearly two months ago, I've been meaning to post my thoughts about the transition and what I'm enjoying and learning in my new position. Well, even though it has taken me about 6 weeks longer than I anticipated... the day has finally come! It's funny because I'm sure my thoughts are much different now than they were 6 weeks ago, but this will have to suffice.

As many of you probably know, I recently left my previous job at a nationwide non-profit to work in full-time ministry for my church. This was a very welcome change for me and, honestly, somewhat of a dream come true. Although my various life plans throughout the years never included ministry, I did fall in love with my church almost immediately upon arriving in Atlanta, and getting paid to facilitate the very environments that made me come to love it is truly the biggest gift. I absolutely believe in what this church is doing for the Gospel of Christ and count it a true privilege to serve the Kingdom in this way.

My job description has three parts to it: department administration, program management, and "director's assistant." Now, I have a lot of experience in the program management piece and my personality leans heavily toward adminstration, so those sounded just great to me. Being someone's assistant? Now that was another story. I had mixed emotions about it... At first I had visions of Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada... alternately, I imagined myself having to babysit a full-grown adult. At times I felt kind of intrigued by this new opportunity and at other times I felt my pride getting in the way of my excitement. After all, didn't I graduate summa cum laude from college? Don't I have two degrees? Did I really work so hard my whole life just to be someone's assistant?

Turns out, the assistant piece of my job is actually the one that I have been enjoying the most (surprise!?). It's so weird to me that this is the case. Part of that is definitely because my boss is young, cool, flexible, and generally awesome, which helps. haha But there is more to it than that... early on, I found myself questioning "why am I actually enjoying this so much?" "what about this speaks to my heart in such a way?" at first I thought it was because it utilizes many of my natural gifts (which is true): organization, administration, responsibility, follow-through, etc. But there was still something even bigger than that. One day, probably when I should have been sleeping, I was pondering this and it just came to me...

I am really enjoying being the "helper."

Now, for those of you who know your scripture, you may immediately connect the dots back to when God created Eve in the Garden... that's where my brain went. I'm sure y'all have heard the story about how God created the world, and He created Adam and everything was good... except, that it was "not good" for Adam to be alone. So God declares "I will make a helper suitable for him" (Genesis 2:18) and that is when (and why) He creates Eve.

To be honest, I was never really down with the idea of being a "helper." It just sounded too... lesser than for my tastes. Yet, many Bible scholars have pointed out that "helper" in the original language is the same word that God often refers to himself by. For example Psalm 54:4 or Hebrews 13:6. I have read before that the word "helper" here includes this idea of rescuer. God has "helped" us acheive salvation; He has rescued us from the consequences of our sin. Likewise, Eve helps... women help... sometimes we women rescue men from themselves. Does that sound about right, lady friends?! haha

Anyway, what I'm finding in my role as a "professional helper" is that my job is very important. Every day my boss thinks I'm a hero because I'm able to accomplish things that he is simply not naturally wired to do well. And every day I am serving my boss and serving my team in a way that is consistent with the way I was designed by my creator. And it just feels... like the way things should be. It has been a really good fit for me.

I definitely have more that I can say about the job, and I probably will in time. However, that's my tidbit for the night. Off to get a good sleep before another day of work tomorrow!