** I'm hosting again this week while Susanne continues her blogging break. She'll be back to host next week, the final chapter in the study. **
After reading the "Keep Still!" sidebar (p. 207), note what methods you use to keep yourself from saying things you shouldn't. Do you ever have a problem with not saying things you should? What keeps you from speaking in such cases? "Keeping still" is definitely an area in my life I've tried to improve. I've always known I'm opinionated and not at all shy about clueing people in and imparting my vast wisdom, but for whatever reason, I really only recognized about two years ago that I wasn't necessarily being at all helpful and that it was often not my place or responsibility to share my opinions. So often, no one had asked. I feel like I've gotten better at holding my tongue and just listening, especially when the person or people I'm talking to are talking about something that doesn't actually affect me in any way.
Unfortunately, I think wanting to improve here has also made it less likely for me to speak up when I think there is a need. Because "who am I to judge?" I always think to myself. I'm certainly not perfect and I think it's my fear of the other person immediately springing to their defence and pointing out how glaringly hypocritical I might be in "rebuking" them. Because, obviously, it's not like I'm sinless.
I struggle a lot with this ~ knowing when something is between another person and God alone and none of my business, or when it's appropriate for a fellow Believer to come alongside and gently suggest a change needs to happen. I struggle exactly with what Ms. Weaver talks about in this chapter ~ recognizing what my motivation for confrontation is. So often it is purely pride-ful or selfish, and yet often, I wonder if believing my own motivation is wrong is an easy way out of a potentially prickly situation.
It's tricky. That's all there is to it.
What spoke most to you in this chapter? I think the importance of examining our own hearts and motivations before confronting someone in order to make sure we are "speaking the truth in love" to them and not just criticizing them is something that stuck out for me. Also, knowing Jesus said we'd all have to give an account for EVERY. CARELESS. WORD (!!!) we've spoken has given me a lot to think about! That's a little scary.
But mostly, this chapter reinforced my desire to be a Barnabas. (or whatever the Hebrew name for "Daughter of Encouragement" would be!) To really be the kind of person people look to when they need to vent or really say how they're feeling, without worrying that I'm going to criticize them or belittle their feelings with glib remarks. (Or worse, dole out all sorts of advice!) To be the kind of person who people know, without a doubt, is praying for them, speaking to God about them and for them on a regular basis. To be the person who doesn't feel awkward asking questions and engaging people in conversation to get to know them better. To open my heart and my home and develop the practises of generosity and hospitality. To really work at fostering true, loving community within the Body of Christ by serving others unobtrusively.
That's who I want to work at becoming.
But I'm realizing the more I want this, the more I see that just asking God to make me like this isn't enough. I actually have to participate here too! Sometimes it means hard work ~ especially in the areas of developing hospitality and holding my tongue when I DESPERATELY want to give my opinion or advice!
I like what Ms. Weaver said in the previous chapter:
"But I have to cooperate with grace ~ adding my "try" to the "umph!" of the Spirit. For without a little discipline on my part and a whole lot of help from God, I will remain the same. Frustrated and depressed. Way behind schedule on my holy makeover.
All because I choose a life of ease rather than a life that pleases God."* (emphasis mine)
I need to be willing to risk my comfort a little more. I think it'll be worth it, don't you?
*Joanna Weaver, Having a Mary Spirit: Allowing God to Change Us from the Inside Out (Colorado Springs, CO: WaterBrook Press, 2007), p. 184
Remember, we're back at Susanne's blog next week for the final study!