Many of you know me on a personal level. Some of you know me quite well. A few of you know me very well. And a couple of you know me almost as well as I know myself… sometimes even better than I know myself.
For some of you my ‘revelation moment’ will surprise you but a few of you will say “Finally!!” because you have seen me struggle through this for many years.
I was thinking about a difficult task that lies in front of me. As most of you know, I am not one to give much ‘pause’ to fear. On the contrary, I tend to listen to the inner voice of truth with passionate purpose. As one friend said years ago, “You march in where angels fear to tread!” It wasn’t said as a compliment.
The truth is, I don’t want to lose that sensitivity to the inner voice because I believe it is not my voice–it is the voice of God’s Spirit speaking in me, to me and through me. And, while I don’t want to lose that, I do want to grow and learn new ways. Better ways. Ways that more authentically reflect the heart of the Author of those thoughts.
In contemplating this in the past I have at times been frustrated with myself. I am strong. I am intense. I am passionate. If it is true, I embrace it. If it is false or partial truth, I reject it. In being these things and doing these things I sometimes hurt people, without intending to, and that has bothered me for a long time.
Tonight a situation in my life came to mind–a situation where I have ‘given pause’ for days, even weeks, even though I feel that inner voice speaking and compelling me to move forward. I have waited because I have been determined not to wound a tender heart. I have been determined that I will first learn and discover what I am lacking so that I can be effective, healing and bring restoration.
As I reflected tonight, after an amazing training session with Scott Fay with The John Maxwell Team, the answer appeared almost mysteriously in front of me. I cannot say exactly how it connects to our lesson, or if it does, but that isn’t the point. What I do know is that my intellect and my heart made a powerful connection.
I am outgoing, compassionate and very determined. I live life with conviction and love. By nature I wear my heart on my sleeve, though I have learned to take authority over that and (usually) hold back when appropriate. When I am faced with difficult situations, even frightening ones, I face them with resilience that life has taught me, which is good…. most of the time.
However, sometimes it is not good and it is when relationships are unnecessarily at risk. To be resilient, as I have been since childhood, I had to learn in an instant to shut off everything except the facts, the bare, naked truth and do what is ‘right’ on that level—on the level of intellect, rather than at a heart level. Heart level involves pain, emotion and the risk of being wounded. Intellect protects me from that raw pain. Doing life that way protects me superficially but is detrimental to trust.
One of my favourite quotes is: “If you want different results tomorrow, you have to make different choices today!” The reality is that we also need different information and the answer I’ve been looking for was that different information!
“Make it about ‘their’ hearts not about the issue.”
If the words had been spoken out loud as I sat here reflecting, they couldn’t have had much more impact. Why didn’t I see that sooner? I try to do life this way as a wife, a mom, a friend, a mentor and in ministry, though I confess I fail at times in all of these relationships, but I do try and I ‘get it’. Why had it never occurred to me to approach problems and issues this way when they are deeply personal?
It makes perfect sense that if I make it about ‘their’ hearts, it doesn’t have to be a personal battle but, in shifting focus, suddenly they become personal to me. Their hearts matter to me as an act of conscious choice. The truth still matters. The problem still exists and needs my attention but I can acknowledge and appeal to their hearts, their emotions and their experience in an effort to truly understand the ‘why’ of their part, rather than allowing my strength to overtake them.
It changes everything. I don’t have to defend myself or the truth. With my own defences down, I am now ready to go in with a tender heart and engage in meaningful exchange to bring about a solution.
…. I think I might still ask some friends for their prayers! The best laid plans of mice and of men have gone awry… And that is why accountability is such a good thing!