This is one of those "huh?" blogs...at least for me. I'm just going to let it rip and not overedit. I hope it makes sense, but I think it will just come out better if I let it fly. Those who've been there, or are there will get it. So...here we go:

I get it, but I don't. Or maybe I get it too much...or not enough.

Maybe a little of both extremes and not enough in between.

So, here it is: There is an assumption apparently out there somewhere that says "time spent to improve self is 'self-focused' time. Time spent expressing self, improving self is "self-focused" time.

Now, first of all, I have to tell you that my first response to this was probably the truest and I should stick with it. Judgment. I tend to go back to that because when I got this input at one point in my life from a dear friend over "always talking about a book I was reading, some hobby, or something", that's how I felt. Judged. Not that some wisdom had been given me. Some insight. Some reproof I needed to consider. It was more a feeling of..."do you even know me anymore? Because I really don't think you could know my heart, life, motivations, or needs enough to say that to me."

But I do take serious comments from friends seriously. I give them consideration. This one a few years ago is one I have a hard time getting over...not because I can't forgive the hurt, but because I feel, still, so misunderstood and unknown for who I am. Not that that makes what I do "right", but in such a thing...who's to say who is "right"?

I find myself going back to the reactions and advice a trusted friend gave me when I asked for her ear on the matter. I was upset, depressed, and frustrated with myself over the frustrated observation.

This was one of the times in my life when a "second godly friend" came in handy. (Never have just one friend...you're out of balance...or you will be at some point, or they will be...shoot for several, in your church, out of your church, in your family, out of your family). She reacted with what I recall as holy indignation of sorts. "You mean to tell me that someone looked at your life, what you are doing, how you are spending your time, and they told you what they thought as if they were God? I'm sorry, but I just don't understand this. Maybe she was right, but I just cannot imagine going up to anyone and telling them that their pursuits were self centered, self focused, self motivated, whatever. Listen here: Did you feel like you were where God wanted you to be in those areas at the time?"

"Yes. I think so. Maybe I was wrong, but I think so, as far as I could tell. I mean, we all get out of balance at times. It's a struggle."

"But, to your knowledge, you were trying to follow Him, doing what you felt He wanted you to be doing."

"Yes. Overall."

"Then I would say, and I'm not God, examine your own heart, but the scripture that comes to mind is the one that talks about not judging another man's servant. You do what your master tells you to do. She does what he tells her to do at any given time. For either one to judge or comment on the priorities of the other outside of requests for evaluation or outright reproof seems very out of line to me."

Well, I'm not saying my friend did not have her right to comment. But, I am saying that it was hurtful. And I did feel like I was being judged. That was affirmed by a mentor. I am saying that if you do things that to others seem a waste of time, they misjudge your intent or your motives...go back to your boss and see if you have his direction and favor. Let go of the desire to please man over pleasing God. Care about what others think. Don't force your agenda or your ways on them, but don't them them force their style and their way on you either. You are you. Be you. Let them be them. If they cannot affirm you in your "you-ness", then do as yet a third friend said in wisdom today...give yourself a little space to breathe for a while.

To "you-ness". Not the kind that will not grow, stretch, and be willing to change. But, the kind that is stretching and growing...ALL THE WHILE celebrating who you have been made to be already.



Misty said...

I can understand the wondering if what you're doing is what the Lord wants you to do, or if it's just pleasing you. I think most of what I do is "survival mode" at this point, and I think it's so important for moms of young kids to find something that can reconnect them to their own identity. I love being wife and mom, but I need to be ME sometimes too. Not sure that people understand all my computer-game playing, or that it is totally what God wants from me, but it's an important part of ME-time. So keep up your hobbies and find new ones. Don't forget who YOU are.

Magnanimity said...

Well said. And a lot shorter than I could say it.

Balance is key. I try to find ways, as you do, with cooking and excersing, that have secondary benefit to family as well. I try to choose routes that give me joy...but that does not mean that because I'm excited about them and want to have conversations about them to connect with people that they are necessarily or entirely "self focused". I think God wants us to do what it takes to keep ourselves fresh and healthy for the tasks we have to do. I guess for some of us, it takes more refreshing than others.

I should have also said...no denying...I'm sure til the day I die, I will, by human nature be a very self focused person. By God's grace, somehow, He helps me be "other focused" at times to His glory and this building of His kingdom. I shoot for more and more of that mindset.