The Dual Nature of You

I’m just like Elizabeth Bennett…according to Facebook. I love a good personality inventory. I’ll click on a Facebook personality test regardless of the topic. At this point, I know which ‘Friends’ character I’m most like, which Disney princess I think like, as well as, which junk food I most resemble. I love the Meyers-Briggs Assessment the most and regularly try to guess the personalities of people I meet. I usually get pretty close. The stronger the personality, the easier to spot whether someone is an Introvert/Extrovert or Perceiver/Judger etc. Within relationships, understanding one another’s personalities is crucial to resolving interpersonal conflict.

I recently went through a book for the third time with my kids called Nurture by Nature. This book uses the Meyers-Briggs Assessment to pinpoint your child’s personality. Then chapter by chapter it unloads hints and advice on how to parent each specific child.

Our kids are a pretty good blend of their parents. The fascinating observation regarding my kids’ personalities is that they each have a dual nature about them. The hardcore leadership of my firstborn backfires at times. She has a great sense of right and wrong and expects everyone to fall in line. She gets angry when she sees injustices and irritated when others sit on the sidelines without sharing her passion to seek beneficial change. She questions authority and abandons respect for anyone in authority as soon as she witnesses any inconsistencies. She questions the status quo daily. She seeks improvement in everything and everyone. She is hard on herself and others, an amazing future leader tempted to isolate herself.

The compassion of my middle child comes with heightened sensitivity and loads of guilt. He offers mercy for everyone in the world except himself. My middle kiddo is the most loving of the family. We all recognize this. He has more compassion in his pinky toe than the lot of us. With this compassion comes great emotional turmoil because life simply does not deliver peace, love, and joy to all the hurting. He can hardly discuss our adopted child through Compassion International without distress. He gets depressed when the rest of us forget to include her in prayer, a future humanitarian daily discouraged by humanity.

I believe God made each of us with a purpose and plan. I do not believe God’s intention was for us to dismiss our personalities or try to become carbon copies of each other. Rather, He created us to be just as we are –to use the best of our personalities to challenge others, to love the unlovable, to cry with the hurting, or to give without question. Whatever gift God gave us, we should use it to the fullest.

However, there are two sides to every human story, and there are two sides of each of of our personalities. Neither may be particularly harmful or sinful, but a strength or tendency may hint at a potential weakness. Our individual personalities are multi-faceted and fascinating.

One challenge in a blossoming self-awareness is to recognize that there are usually two sides to who you are. If you are merciful without question, are you also a doormat who regularly tolerates poor behavior? If you are an extrovert and love being with people all the time, do you ever struggle to set boundaries in relationships or neglect moments of solitude for personal prayer? Are you an excellent judge of character but also experience the temptation to be judgmental of others?

When I teach peace-building classes, I usually ask for two volunteers to help. I hold up a book between them and ask them to describe what they see. Simply, they each see a book, but as they describe it, they discover that the cover on one side doesn’t match the cover on the other side at all. They each see part of what is before them, but can’t describe the other side without hearing from the other volunteer. The same is true in relationships. We only see our side of the story. Relationships grow when we try to see the other side through others’ eyes accepting our own limitations.

Try to pinpoint the potential struggles within your unique personality that can lead you to step outside of God’s will for your life or that can cause personal, or even interpersonal difficulties. Be completely honest with yourself. And if you are particularly brave today, ask a close friend what they see as your strengths and potential pitfalls.

Within relationships, be wary of self-righteous by assuming everyone sees the world just like you do. Don’t expect others to observe the world in the same way. We each have unique strengths. We each have unique temptations. We can only see the world through our own eyes.

Without consistently seeking understanding as we relate to others, we may never clearly see the other side of the story. Further, individual perception often becomes an individual’s “truth” until both parties attempt to clearly understand where the other is coming from and how they view the world.

I am sure that God, who began a good work in you, will continue His work until it is finished on the day Jesus returns. ~Philippians 1:6

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the last run.

Caryn Blanchard Blog

e41a152e18df4fdea70ade3b8b78e9b7When I close my eyes
after all final goodbyes
i’ll eagerly expect my new view.

I’ll open my eyes
and quickly arise
dismiss all that’s behind and run to you.

You’ll open your arms
erase all that brought harm
then greet me in a land of clear skies.

I’ll at last see your face
as we celebrate grace
and recall all adventures gone by

You’ll introduce me to friends
the day will ne’er end
as eternity bursts forth from short life.

I’ll rejoice in a reward
that i never earned
and clutch hands with a friend who knew strife.

For all that was toil
the heartbreaks of poor soil
matters never again when i run to you.

When all wrong in me is gone.
and we sing a new song
As my final run embraces your truth.

-CB

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Attitude of Gratitude

Throughout 2017 our family kept a gratitude jar. I set out paper and markers and during the year each of us wrote down blessings big and small, folded the paper, and dropped them in an old Ball canning jar. The jar filled and quickly became smashed down, overflowing. I’m thankful for that.

This morning we read through all the colorful papers listing our blessings in 2017.

We even found some notes that sweet friends snuck in at some point while in our home this year.

Heartbreaks abound here on earth, but if you seek good, you will find good mixed into your struggles. Noticing even the smallest blessing counts and can lead you toward recognizing the bigger blessings you may miss otherwise. Seek good. Hunt it. List blessings aloud, on paper, on your mirrors, on your refrigerators. Soak in the blessings that life brings to keep you from drowning in the sorrows.

Hurt happens. Find the good anyhow and pop that memory in your gratitude jar whether literal or not.

“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

~John 6:38

Dying to Live

This year I’m walking away from some old practices leaving room for God to begin something new in my life.

My son and I are already planning our vegetable garden this year. I’ve even started a compost bin to improve the soil. Funny thing about composting, it’s basically a bin of death and rot that provides essential nutrients in soil for new growth. To have the most productive garden, it must be surrounded by death. Much like my compost bin, I want to put to death all the pieces of old me so a new, more God-pleasing, me will grow. I want to put to death jealousy, self-doubt, people pleasing, materialism, worry, busi-ness, and fear. We will see what grows in my life once I’ve buried a few of those old things and let them die.

May God richly bless your new year and may we all endeavor to seek Him, speak truth to ourselves and others, and be bold for the sake of the cause. Happy New Year!

An Ecclesiastes Kind of Day

image_367465da-304c-4628-9f86-1ee7bcf26131_1024x1024The last two days have been a struggle for me. I hate that those days come when my faith is weak and the future of humanity appears so grim and life so overwhelming that living it is pointless. I hate those days. But those days do come; thankfully, not too often. If any of you struggle with depression and anxiety, you understand.
The fact is my hope often renews (slow as a snail on gravel) because those days force me to settle into what I know is truth and to seek out comfort from the invisible Creator God of whom I believe. Even if those days include me reminding myself of what I do believe every two minutes, reminding me that I made a decision to believe. I made a commitment to Him and not to self. When you try to emote faith on days like this, sometimes the most comforting way back is to remind yourself of your commitments to follow truth and not your wayward emotions.
This morning as I struggled to understand how the Spirit of the Almighty would lead a person such as me, a doubter, a sinner, a self-loather, I skeptically flipped open my bible. I admit it was an aimless opening. I had no verse in mind and no direction. (Maybe I was testing the Spirit’s presence in my life.) But where the pages fell open was surprising. Ecclesiastes. If you’ve read Ecclesiastes, you’ll wonder how in the world I could gain encouragement from such a book. And yet, there they were, the words I needed to pull me out of this gross emotional self-seeking lie of doubt.
“God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11
This tiny truth woven into my heart is where my pain comes from. It’s like an aching homesickness that never goes away. It’s an ache for justice- for resolution- for a fairness that is clearly missing in the church and in the community around me. I ache for home, for heaven. I ache to see all children loved, to see all church members appreciated, to see all Christians wage a war against evil and not each other, to see God glorified and the bible held as our connection to our God and Savior.
My heart longs for a place that is truly beautiful. My heart knows that it exists and my discomfort here, as painful as it can be at times, is further proof that this earth isn’t home. My attempts to camp here and make it feel comfortable will always be vain attempts to create a home that truly awaits for me…somewhere else.
No church. No friend. No marriage. No child can fill the hole in your heart than only heaven can fill. As beautiful as this earth can be, we haven’t seen the truly beautiful resolution for our lives that He has in store for us. We can’t even see the plan He has nor understand the intricate blueprint he has designed for our paths. Maybe we should stop trying to understand and simply trust in the promise that we indeed have a tomorrow with Him.
Today, I rest in this hope of a future of peace, a beautiful view where all that I see around me finally makes sense and my inadequate attempts to make this earth feel like heaven will vanish in the blink of an eye when I finally see the real deal.
Peace,
me

Does Obedience Matter?

There are two ways of viewing obedience to the directives in scripture. The first is to view obedience as a challenge: the obedient warrior. The second is to view the notion of obedience as a reminder of judgement and guilt: the broken worm.

spartan-warrior-1366x768In viewing obedience as a challenge or a directive, the obedient warrior, knowing logically all are imperfect, hears messages throughout scripture that challenge all to live a perfect life. Jesus challenges us to live holy and separate from the world. He puts obedience in our hands and within our grasp, yet reminds us, through His great sacrifice, that He will indeed cover what we cannot achieve. Our love for God motivates us to try. Our desire to worship Him calls us toward repentance and obedience as we fall on our knees and thank Him for all He’s done. Obedience is our challenge to live for God not for ourselves.

The second view of obedience, the broken worm, is the daily reminder of our worminadequacies and failures. The guilt driven worms that we are can never be good enough for God, so trying is irrelevant, albeit a fruitless attempt to earn favor. Grace covers all especially since we can never achieve perfection. When we are reminded of our sin, the guilt wounds our hearts to such an extent that our only comfort is in the unfathomable grace that we don’t deserve. In our broken worm state, we comfort each other in our helpless mutual failures and all improvement rests in the hands of God, Himself.

The obedient warriors work hard to please God, but risk emotionally wounding the worms when pointing to the challenge of obedience. Further, the obedient warriors risk falling into a works-based salvation as they hurriedly try to improve fellow believers. Warriors offend people often.

The broken worms recognize God’s unmatched gift, but risk becoming entrenched in a world not meant for believers at all moving farther and farther away from Christ and holiness and further into self-gratification because after all, grace will cover even the sins we can’t help but make. Worms risk never sharing the gospel at all for fear of hurting someone’s feelings and spreading the dreaded guilt.

What I’ve witnessed is that obedient warriors and broken worms have a difficult time communicating. The first tends to smash the other with scriptural directives, and the later tends to condescend with a spiritual smirk at the smallest attempt at righteousness.

I’m not sure how to make the two groups get along. I’ve been in both camps at different times of my life. What I’m coming to is that to live completely in one camp or the other isn’t spiritually healthy at all. Rather, we need both the warrior and the worm to come together and learn from one another to created a third party; faithful workers who are willing to strive to live right by God and by one another knowing we are all a part of the redeemed.

Warriors need to depend upon God.
Worms need to bow to God.

The redeemed do both.

Ripples

Ripples Lake Clouds Mountains Mist Trees Shore Free Wallpapers
Ripples Lake Clouds Mountains Mist Trees Shore Free Wallpapers

I stood beside a quiet lake with the Lord.
I asked Him what purpose my life holds.
He smiled at me and looked down.
He chose a stone and threw it into the middle of the lake.

The circles started small.
They grew.
They multiplied.
Until the waves kissed the shore at every edge.

“I see, Lord.” I replied.
“You want me to be the lake and feed the forest around me.”
“You want me to nurture any living being I can.”
“You want me to supply every need to this forest of trees.”

He responded with a simple shake of his head and smiled.
“No, child. I want you to be the rock.
Your life is but a vapor, a small moment in time.
You are the rock, but your life will create waves of change.”

The Brave Bow: Mark 14

lhw_luke7__36-300x256There is a lot of talk about courage going around. In America, we seem to label just about every act as bravery from waking up and drinking coffee to listening to NPR on our commute home. “She’s so brave to give up sugar for a month.” Hogwash, I say. We are so spoiled with independence and freedom in this country that most of us nary a clue what bravery and courage look like.

Surprisingly, in the majority of cases in this country, courage is not simply posting an article on Facebook or writing a dissenting comment or even participating in hashtag marketing. Courage is not marching along with a million others who think the same way you do to prove a point and fight for your cumulative rights. It is not an act of bravery to vote for a particular candidate in this country. Courage is not simply going to church on Sunday morning. Bravery is not jumping on a bandwagon of popular behaviors only to play the victim later. Living courageously is not complaining about how life isn’t fair. (It’s not, by the way.) And courage isn’t running off at the mouth and showcasing your outrage like your opinion is a badge of honor.

Today I read about a kind of courage that is rarely seen.

Courage walks into a room full of men who have the lawful right to throw stones at you. Courage willfully ignores calls for self-righteous justice as she marches toward the focus of her gaze. Courage owns and lays bare her sinful life in front of accusing eyes who choose to only see the sin of others. Courage falls to the floor and reaches to touch the one thing she has no right to even behold…the Son of God’s feet.  Courage is broken enough to use her tears to wash away the dust of a day’s walk. Courage calls herself a sinner, announces humbly to the world her low place, repents to God, and then walks away from her old life. That is courage.

In an age where sin is acceptable and even glorified, perhaps what we desperately need to witness is a bravery that is seldom seen today. What we desperately need, friends, is to humble ourselves and recognize that either we own our sinfulness or we deny it. Either we look our true selves in the mirror or we sit in denial and point our fingers at others. Either we grab a stone to throw or we bow down and reach out to the Savior’s feet.

Be brave enough to bow.

______________

If you would like to read through the New Testament with me this year follow this link to get a free bible reading calendar. I’d love to hear your thoughts as well!

Faith is what counts. Mark 6-10

pexels-photo-576926.jpegAs is turns out, our faith is a pretty big deal. Faith is what made so many people well when Jesus walked among us. You may think Jesus healed people…and you’re right. But the language that sticks out to me in the first half of Mark is how often Jesus says “Your faith has made you well.”

Your faith matters.

Jesus left his home town because of a lack of faith. The people simply didn’t believe. So He left. Do we believe? Do we? Sure, the bible has some comforting verses and Jesus seems like a nice guy…but do we honestly believe that Jesus is the Son of God and painfully left this earth for our sins, rose from death and is coming back? If we don’t believe this, truly believe, after reading Mark, I’m wondering if our lives appear empty and hopeless simply because we have a lack of faith.  Do I believe that Jesus is going to answer every prayer the way we want? No. He’s not a butler. Do I believe that Jesus may be silent in our lives because of our lack of faith? Absolutely. Don’t believe me? Read Mark.

How many times does Jesus need to predict His death before his best friends hear him? Why are they missing this? I can feel the shock and fear brewing in their hearts when Jesus is killed in these next few chapters to come. They should have all been waiting by that tomb because they already knew that Jesus was about to blast that grave wide open. Were they there?

Jesus is telling them about the most terrifying moments of His life to come and what do the apostles want to know? “Huh. That’s weird about the torture and dying thing, Jesus, but when you get up there, can I sit next you in glory?” It is a wonder that Jesus didn’t just take off to heaven and leave us all stranded down here then and there.

It is so easy in this Christian walk to forget about the omnipotent God. The God who raises dead girls to walk. The God who makes the blind see. The God who died and rose for us…the doubters, the selfish narcissists that we are. We forget Him and really we just want all this life to be easier on us. Jesus loves us. Surely he’ll make it easy on us. I mean He came all this way…

Ten chapters into Mark and I can tell you: Your faith matters. Your lack of faith will stunt you and trip you up. And the more you desire and chase after your own comforts in this world the more your life will dry up into nothing of value. Jesus is so much the opposite of our inclinations. Suffer more. Be a servant. Become less. Forget your earthly wealth and desires. Have big faith. Believe in the impossible.

Can I do this? Can we do this?

If you would like to read through the New Testament with me this year follow this link to get a free bible reading calendar. I’d love to hear your thoughts as well!

The Demons Daring to Believe: Mark 5

pexels-photo-226611.jpegDozens of movies out there reference a character in Mark 5, and it isn’t Jesus. Legion has some Hollywood creds… almost as many as Jesus Himself. I’ve seen at least three Hollywood thrillers that feature a demonic posssesion by Legion. The description of the possessed man in this chapter does give one the willies. While possessed by Legion this poor guy develops superman type strength with the anger management of Hulk. He’s able to break chains off his arms and legs and no one can contain him…; he’s not someone you’d want to meet in an alley. Legion didn’t fear much…except Jesus, the one who rid the world of him by way of pigs.

Mark 5, while rich in miraculous works, leaves me wondering exactly how much does our faith matter when we expect big things from God. The bleeding woman was healed because of her faith. Jarius’ daughter opened her eyes from death after Jesus encouragement to Jarius to simply believe.
“Don’t be afraid, just believe.” Jesus said to a man whose child was dying…now dead.

Do I trust that Jesus can do big things? Do I? Do I have the faith to push against the crowd and fight my way to the Savior simply to touch the hem of His clothes… because that’s all I need?

I don’t think I do. I know I couldn’t handle someone telling me not to fear if something was wrong with my child.

I have a lot to learn and a bigger faith to nurture.