God has been teaching me SO much recently.
So last week, Barney and I were talking to Andy B in first prez office. He was telling us about the Enneagram…it’s like Meyers-Briggs on crack. with eastern mysticism and ancient pre-Jesus wisdom thrown in there. I had never heard of this before…this number system that somehow knows me in my deepest core. At first Andy refused to tell us outright what he thought our numbers were. He told us we should take the test in our mid to late twenties, when our "selves" have solidified more. But then he couldn’t help himself. 🙂 So he wrote Bnay’s number on a post-it, folded it up, and passed it to me. Dead on.
I told him to do me next…to guess my number. He was more hesitant with me, but through our conversation, he started hinting at me. "Number 2’s are really recognizable, and they love giving and helping other people." My ears perked up at this, and I turned to face Andy. "But when it comes to figuring out their own needs, they’re often at a loss," he finished. AH! My eyes grew big (or as big as they can be haha). He caught my gaze, and slowly a sly smile spread across his face. "Something sound familiar?"
"It’s like it knows me," I said.
It’s like it knows me. And that wasn’t even the end of it. The 2 needs to feel needed. They give to feel needed, to feel worthwhile. They’re seen as the "good parent" (if I had a dollar for every time I was called a mom…). Twos love extravagantly in order to be loved, in order to get love. But this can often lead to feelings of resentment or bitterness when our hidden expectations are not met. How is it, that this system, devised thousands of years ago, can understand the core of my humanity so clearly, and come to the same conclusions I’ve only begun to understand in over two decades worth of life on this earth? And moreover, how is it that humanity can be so neatly summed up in this system of numerical gifts coupled with our dark side?
And they say that no one knows who came up with it. But it’s eerie how it knows the human condition so well.
My deepest desire is to be appreciated. I don’t think that all I do is to gain the praise of others, but I have noticed that when I get overlooked (as in, I’m a team player on this one thing and then the others get exalted and I’m forgotten)…this is what hurts the most. This is what makes me start doubting myself, makes me start wishing I had other gifts.
I know in my head that all gifts are valuable, that all are needed in the body, that all have worth and are necessary for the body to function. But in my heart…the devil sometimes finds fertile ground to sow his lies. Lies of worthlessness, lies of jealousy, lies of wanting to be something different, or maybe even something more than myself, more than what God has made me to be. And in doing so, I sin. I call myself better than my creator–that I know better, that I should have been gifted in this way, that actually, these gifts are more important, more useful, more valuable. You don’t know what you’re talking about, Lord. I know better. (oh the heresy! and even as I type this, I’m slightly afraid of a lightning bolt coming from the sky…)
At Urbana, in a moment of complete surrender, of complete longing and desire to hear from my God, I cried out to him with tears streaming down my face, asking the Lord of the Universe to just tell me what He wants. To just tell me where to go. I’m willing, I said. I’m willing to go where you call me, just tell me! Just give me some sort of direction!!! And in my earnesty, in my nearly physical pain to hear from my Lord, I heard nothing. As thousands were making commitments all around me, to go into cross cultural missions long term, short term, go on staff, go into the business world…I just sat with palms turned upwards, waiting, pleading with God for a word, a picture, a place. I wanted to be able to make a commitment. I wanted to say that God was calling me to something, anything. So finally I just asked Him–Do you want me to stay on staff next year? And the answer I heard gave me agony for the next two months. "No," he said.
No?! NO??!? My tears were falling for vastly different reasons now. But God, I….How can you…I’m not done yet! I thought of all the relationships I’d built, of all of the friendships I’d made, of all the things that students had shared with me, of all the ways I’d seen students meet God, all the ways I’d seen God transform them before my eyes…and I couldn’t bear to leave. And i hated myself a little. I’d just told God I’d go where he sent me. Anywhere…and yet, here he is, calling me away from something, and I can’t bear to leave.
So for two months I wrestled with God. I told friends to pray for me, together we asked God for visions, for pictures, for words of wisdom to affirm what I’d heard. And I hoped beyond hope that somehow, somehow I’d heard him wrong. Somehow I’d made it up in my head. Or that somehow he wasn’t calling me away from staff…just maybe away from UIC. And my supervisor set a deadline…beginning of March. By then we need to start making concrete plans, he said. Oh Lord!
Over those two months my friends saw visions and had dreams. And I was going. And I was free. And I was sooo happy. And finally, I gave up. I gave up wrestling with God. I gave up what I wanted…to stay at UIC with all the amazing students, with all the amazing work that God was doing there. Not that I know what’s in store next. With three rejections out of four in hand, I don’t seem to have many options. So will I trust God not knowing what’s going to happen to me? I had to let go of that desire to see the road ahead, be willing to accept rejection in this world. And he gave me this weird peace that was far from joyful. It was solemn. And heavy.
So I told my supervisor. The day before we left for Asian American Staff Conference I told my supervisor what i had decided. More like…that I was willing to obey. There was nothing to decide, really. How do you argue with God?? That conference was sooo bittersweet. (saving it for an entry in and of itself) To see where God is taking Asian American ministries, to see where we’ve come from…and to know that I will no longer be a part of it. Bittersweet is so fitting.
This past Monday we had our Area Team meeting. And William shared with such joy about leaving staff, about seeing the exciting opportunities ahead and just how God has been affirming his gifts in unexpected ways. And I saw the joy he had, and I wanted it. I want to be joyful, I want to be celebrating…but I find myself caught inbetween mourning and merriment. I’m just not there yet.
I realized though, as I shared a prayer request with our team (a moment of extraversion), that God is doing a good work in me. That in leaving, He’s breaking me free of this desire to be needed, of this desire to be wanted, of my "two-ness". If I can move on from this campus, from all these students and leave it in the hands of God, and not seek out "senior notes" of thanks and appreciation, I will be okay.
As a staff worker, I’ve been feeding my little needy monster. The one that gets locked away in the dark, hidden corner of my heart. When a student tells me they need to talk to me, when a student tells me asks me to meet up with them, when I see that words I’ve said have encouraged or challenged them, the monster gets a cookie. And sometimes he reaches out and grabs an opportunity, asking a probing question of a student because I can tell they’re holding something back, and the needy monster doesn’t like that. Am I not good enough for them to share? Do they not trust me enough? So he reaches out his paw and he holds a sugar cube out to them. Here, take this sweet looking, innocent sugar cube. I’m just doing it because I care for you. I just want to know more so I can pray for you better, help you more, that’s all. Here, take it. TAKE IT. Thankfully, he’s only done that once or twice. And that’s when I’m aware of how deeply sinful I am. Of how tainted I am…that even my gifts are guilty of the smattering of sin ingrained in my life. Even my gifts are in need of the blood of redemption.
And so for God to take me away, for God to tell me to seek Him first, to be more passionate about Him than I am about InterVarsity….He’s killing the needy monster inside of me. And it hurts. I feel it starving, I feel it restlessly pacing circles, waiting for the look and response of students when I tell them I’m leaving. But He says, Find your worth in Me. The affirmation of others, the trust you built up with others…it’s all temporary pleasures. Look to Me, and I will show you how to use your gifts. I will show you who you are, and I will show you where to go.
Okay Lord…I will go to the land you will show me.