Relationship with Christ

For Freedom Christ set us Free

Annie Downs introduced me to the Enneagram a couple of months ago but it wasn't until yesterday that I actually put in effort into giving it a deeper look. Oh the joys of procrastination. 

I'm a 2 on the Enneagram scale, or " The Helper" as this website put it. 

Empathetic. Sincere. Warm-hearted. Friendly. Generous. Self-Sacrificing. My face broke into a smile, my head nodding in agreement as I read about the strengths of a type 2. I am all these things I thought to myself. 

I think I definitely do these things well, I mused as I glanced over them again.

We can discuss my self-righteous prideful thoughts more in person but yes I am now acutely aware of how prideful I sounded. 

The beauty of the Enneagram, though, is that it provides a summary of both the strengths and the weaknesses of the different personality types. 

Flatterer. People-pleaser ( Definitely the president of that club ). Can sometimes do things for people in order to feel needed. Struggles with pride ( the uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach began to form ), self-deception, limited sense of self ( Pfffft! I definitely know who I am. Sometimes... ), tendency to manipulate others in order to have their own emotional needs met ( No! There is no way I do that. Is there? Do I do that? ). Has a tendency to get over-involved in other people's lives. Struggles with the idea that love has to be earned. 

This often results in an unhealthy inauthenticity in many of their relationships.

And just like that, the Enneagram laid bare my deepest fears, struggles and desires before me. 

My fear of being unwanted and unworthy of love.

My deep desire to be loved unconditionally.

My efforts to earn that love from the people around me. 

My stomach twisted into uncomfortable knots as I read and re-read about my personality type and thought back through instances where I'd seen these characteristics play out in overt or covert ways. I could feel my mind and heart begin to sink into a self-depreciating black hole of over analysis and emotional recycling and knew that although these characteristics were things that I had seen be evident in my life, I desperately needed Truth to be spoken. 

Unhealthy patterns were evident in my life and that needed to change. But this type of change had to happen beyond the surface - my deep heart issues have to be dealt with and only God can do that. 

What does the Gospel say to this Lord? I whispered desperately this morning. 

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you previously lived according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit now working in the disobedient. We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts and we were by nature children under wrath as others were also. BUT GOD, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! He also raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus so that in the coming ages he might display the immeasurable riches of his grace through his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For you are saved by grace through faith and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift - not from works so that no one can boast.
— Ephesians 2:1-9

Grace. 

Undeserved favor. 

To my desire for unconditional love, the Gospel of Jesus Christ says that God seeing and knowing my brokenness and the depravity of my soul CHOSE to still pursue relationship with me. Jesus humbly took on human form, giving up the glories of heaven for earth - taking the punishment that I so rightly deserved by dying on the cross. He was righteous. I was unrighteous. He then rose from the death rendering death and sin powerless and consequently giving new life to all who believe in Him.  My choice to accept and see Jesus as my Lord and my Saviour means that the righteousness of Christ has been placed on me. God's wrath is satisfied and I am called into fellowship with Him. Though unworthy of this wildly extravagant mercy, it was lavished on me. Extravagant love was given to me! I did not earn it; I definitely could not earn it. It was a gift freely given without any expectations or conditions! 

The Gospel of Jesus Christ says that I do not need to present a certain image in order to earn the affections of God. He knows me fully and yet still loves me deeply. I have especially felt this pressure to present a certain image since becoming a missionary and working in full - time Christian ministry. Whether internally or externally applied, I have felt the pressure to be a 'good Christian' and present a certain perfect image to the world.  As though Christians are not broken people in need of grace. As though I do not have an individual personality, likes or dislikes, hard days and rough moods. 

While I am called to be kind, loving, compassionate and gentle with others - and the Holy Spirit is continually refining me so that this fruit is produced in my life, I do not need to be alter or change my personality in order to make myself more likeable. I do not need to fit in with the people around me in order to be considered worthy or deserving of their affection. I do not need to perform in order to have a hold of their attention. In Christ, I am secure. 

I am FREE!

For freedom, Christ set us free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to the yoke of slavery.
— Galatians 5:1

Christ has set me free to live free!

I can love others without putting expectations on them to fulfill my desire to be loved.  

I can serve the people around me without wanting glory or affirmation of their affection for me. 

I can build healthy relationships with people without depending on them to be my source of worth and love. 

There is no need to be vulnerable and open with every single person that I meet, creating a false sense of security through facilitating false weak intimacy. 

I don't need to adapt my personality or my opinions to suite the people around me. 

My worth is not based on what people think about me. 

Christ has set me Free. 

But this freedom is not to be misused. 

For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbour as yourself.
— Galatians 5:13-14

The strengths and relational capacity that God has given me as an Enneagram 2 are to be used to the glory of God and for the good of the people around me. Empathy. Sincerity. Warm-heartedness. Friendliness. Generosity. Self-Sacrifice. These are all good qualities but what I keep forgetting is that I can only live these out well if I live them out of the overflow of my relationship with God. 

I struggle with rejoicing and mourning well with the people God puts in my life - afraid to fully get into the depth of life with people because of the cost it will have.  

I don't always want to be kind or patient or gentle or generous and most times I massively fail at this.  

There are a lot of times when I don't want to be intentional or put effort into my friendships. 

And dying to my own expectations and pride and self-righteousness is HARD. 

But God. 

God who is rich in mercy and abounding in love has made me alive in Christ; made me a new creation in Christ; raised me to new life in Christ; continues to increase my capacity to love deeply like Christ; puts to death my sinful nature and conforms me to the likeness of Christ. 

And oh how often I forget this. 

How desperately I need to remember this truth when I am tempted to fall into the trap of trying to earn love, trying to please people, trying to be good enough, trying to be found worthy of affection and effort and intention. 

Full known yet deeply loved. 

Raised to new life in Christ. 

Given the gift of salvation by grace through faith, not because of anything I have done or could do. 

What joy! 

What Freedom!

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The In - Between

I've been fascinated with sunsets lately 

Probably because sunsets mean the day is slowing down and things are wrapping up - coming to an end. 

I'm in that season.

Of things slowing down and coming to an end - It's an interesting place to be. 

When friends ask me how I'm doing - my usual response is "I'm fine, just thinking through next steps after graduation." But if I was to be completely honest I would tell them that I'm struggling with being still; with letting God lead me; with being in this in - between space. 

In - between spaces mean relinquishing control - They mean surrender. 

Surrender is uncomfortable. 

But surrender is also the space where grace abounds and where joy overflows. 

Joy in Surrender

If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life. And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your whole soul in the process? Is anything worth more than your soul?
— Matthew 16:25-26

What if this in - between space is an opportunity for me to let go of the life that I thought I'm supposed to be living, choosing instead to follow Christ anywhere, any time, any cost? 

What if in - between spaces are an opportunity to understand the beauty and freedom found in truly living in light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? 

Hmn...

Maybe in - between spaces are places where freedom reigns and we experience fierce love that redeems and restores and points us towards the One who spoke this earth - this time - into existence. 


Open - Handed and Out of the Boat

Your will be done, Abba. 

I wrote that on a sticky note 6 hours ago and put it on the inside pages of my Bible and 6 hours later, those words are still echoing in my mind. 

Do I understand the significance of what I wrote? 

I am holding out my life with open hands to Him and declaring to myself (and now to the world) that I will follow him anywhere, any time, any cost. 

Any cost. 

*breathe*

That's a heavy, sacred decision. 

I'm scared. 

The waves seem higher, rougher, more threatening than they looked when I was inside the safety of the boat (Matthew 14:22-33). 

And then I look at Him and I remember that He promised to be with me always - even to the end of ages. 

I remember that He is the one who spoke the earth into motion and holds eternity in His hands - He is the beginning and the end of time as I understand it. 

In the shadow of His wings I will find refuge, and strength, and hope, and grace. 

Infinite immeasurable grace. 

Grace that will carry me through the open-handed, out of the boat, unexpected, joy-giving, pride crushing, life giving adventures that so often come with surrender. 

So here we are at the beginning

*breathe*

Your will be done Abba.  

I Shall Not Want

It’s so easy to get caught up thinking about difficult moments that we have experienced or difficult choices that we have had to make;

To hold on to anger and pain as though holding onto it will make you stronger or better or wiser.

How many times have we chosen a different path simply because the alternative, though the better option, would require us to go through fire?

Or been in a situation that was so uncomfortable and painful that you doubted God’s grace was present in that moment?

I love this song because it challenges me to trust that God’s grace is present and that he works things out for the good of those whose hope is in him.

I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want

How incredible are those words?

What incredible faith these words employ!

How amazing is the assurance that comes with them!

And so I sing these words over and over again.

Out loud.

In my Heart.

Praying that as I continue to seek Him, that these words would continue to ring true in my spirit.

And I share them with you friend.