Wednesday, January 20, 2016

a note from an open introvert

How much of yourself do you hide from others?
How openly do you share your REAL self?
How transparent and genuine are you to grant access to your inner life... to share your heart with those whom you will encounter as you represent Jesus and walk through this human life?
Are you repressive to keep yourself safely guarded so as not to get hurt?
Or are your arms open wide, ready to embrace and love without restriction... without fear?

As a born introvert (INFJ), it has always been challenging for me to bare my soul without first building up some form of inner defense and protection system around my heart. It has never been my way to freely share without first insuring that I felt emotional safe and in control. Because of this, I must tell you that it is difficult to wake up each morning and intentionally choose to expose my fragile imperfect heart to others - deciding to follow Christ's example to love unselfishly with the kind of love that holds no agenda for my own personal gain... the kind of love that exposes His heart, His way, rather than my own.

No, admittedly my natural comfort zone does not default directly to sharing God's holy kind of love with others. I wish it did. But in truth, I know that without Him I am selfish and weak. My heart is sensitive and can hurt deeply when mistreated. So I have had difficulty choosing to always love a world that has beaten me up and bruised me emotionally. This world has let me down and disappointed me in so many ways that I am constantly questioning God's call to expose myself. His call seems so vulnerable... so foreign... so raw. It seems crazy to choose to "go there" willingly. Even today, I struggle to write about my spiritual walk in this very blog. You see, before The Devoted Woman I would have never disclosed so many personal details about my life... so many feelings, fears, hurdles and shortcomings.

As an introvert I have never been excited to share with others any inner "drama" or my ongoing struggle to live holy. I have usually been more conservative in my spiritual walk. In the past, the idea of being "out there" and accessible for people (and the enemy) to dissect, take shots at, or mistreat... well, it made me skeptical to outwardly dip my toe into God's gushing river of perfect love, much less dive right in and splash around others with the truth of His grace. No, before DW, I was spiritually shy. Emotional guarded. And both these traits were physically evident by the "padding" my body built up to ward off intruders.

Graciously, God has been patient with me as I have grown to understand His purpose for my life. He has given me understanding that in order for the the Spirit of the Lord to be on me, I am to embrace His anointing and preach the good news while proclaiming the FREEDOM of His glory. I must stop guarding myself or worrying about the brokenness that sin has brought on. For as a redeemed child of the King, He has taken over my life and has promised to take care of me while He continues to perform a great work in me and heal my heart. I am being made new. Because of this holy transformation and divine protection, I can stop guarding myself from being vulnerable and instead live my life transparently by loving everyone as Jesus did. I can sing His praises to the world and showcase my Master as the Redeemer of my life. I can be open!

This is what God the LORD says - he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: "I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth. (Isaiah 42:5-8, 10a)

Sometimes loving others requires speaking hard biblical truths to encourage what is right over what is popular. Sometimes being open means loving the unlovable or giving the unthinkable with our time and resources. This can prove a difficult challenge because the line of healthy vs. non-healthy boundaries can become cloudy when you are faced with the struggle against sin.

Nonetheless, despite what loving others may entail... I am grateful that the Holy Spirit continues to answer my prayers to clarify His purpose. He is leading me through rough emotional fires in order to refine my faith and continues to protect and shield my heart from harm. Because of this, today I am reflecting on His absolute covering and the freedom His identity gives to live openly and love wholeheartedly.

This is the call of Christianity. To lay down everything, especially our guarded inner protective selves, and to replace our worry and hurt with His open wondrous promise of hope to save a lost and dying world. Our lives are living testimonies intended to expose His glory. We are breathing examples of His grace... the walking redeemed who have been blessed to sacrifice over to Him all our days for the purpose and honor and benefit of advancing His kingdom.

Jesus is LOVE. With our whole lives, we are to duplicate His LOVE to everyone we encounter. We are to mirror and embrace our Savior's heart while sharing the peace of belonging to Him, even in the most tumultuous moments. When necessary, we are to be willing to reveal every trial, every fear, every feeling, every insecurity in order to allow the Light of the World to be unveiled - even within our deepest, most protected parts. Ladies, God wants us to freely face this life, with all it's burdens, in faith... believing that He is cleansing us from what is unholy and using us to reveal His glory in a very real, very personal way.

So, with this in mind I'll ask again... How much of yourself do you hide from others?
How openly do you share Christ's personal workings within your life?
How transparent and genuine are you to grant access for others to see the inner renovations currently underway and taking place inside you?
Do you freely allow people to see Jesus as a very real, very personal Redeemer and King?
Are you repressive to keep yourself safely guarded to protect yourself from this world?
Or are your arms open wide, ready to embrace and love without restriction.

Let's allow God to take on the full responsibility of protecting us from harm. Let's trust Him to bestow upon us His holy peace. Let's live in freedom as we grow spiritually and live transparently through every circumstance. And let's ask Him to teach us to relax under His covering, breathing in His grace and exhaling out His love to a world that so desperately needs to see and receive Him.

Are you ready to sacrifice your deepest parts in order to share His message?
Are you willing to offer up your life, your love, so that His Name may be glorified through your individual experience.
Are you OPEN?

A gift opens the way for the giver and ushers him into the presence of the great. (Proverbs 18:16)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

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