It’s been a long time since I last blogged.
That seems to be a very common opening for my blogs! I wish it wasn’t, yet at the same time I struggle with motivating myself to write. I have half formed thoughts, and think ooh that would be a great subject to blog on. That way I can bounce my thoughts off the screen of my laptop until I have something vaguely coherent, and perhaps almost conclusive, then I can publish it and people will read it.
That for me, is what my blog is supposed (I think) to be about, a place for me when I can bounce my ideas around outside of my head. I’m a very internalised processor, which means when I think about things I tend not to do much discussing until I have a pretty good grasp on the idea/plan. It is only infrequently I’ll speak up about a plan or an idea and say everything that I could about it, it tends to be I open on the topic, talk/explain what I think and then let people draw their on conclusions from what is right for me. That’s why I used to (and still do) enjoy blogging! I get to talk for just as long as I want to, go back and rephrase things I’m not comfortable with until it’s neater.
At the moment I’ve reached a phase in life where I’m struggling with my identity. That’s not to say I’ve forgotten my name (Andrew James Goudie) but rather that I seem to be losing something that I’ve had through my whole childhood. I feel like I’ve lost an instinctive grasp on who and what I am.
I woke up at about 2 this morning, after falling asleep well before 9, and couldn’t get back to sleep, so picked up the book I’ve just started reading. It’s about discipleship and identity (so far). The part of the book talks about how we have to set Jesus at the focus of our lives, and make a stand for Him. However, making that stand is wrapped up in who you are! The writer talks about growing Jesus inside of yourself, cultivating a lifestyle that looks like Jesus.
The thing about growing stuff is that you can’t grow something from nothing. You need to plant seeds in soil for them to grow. There is a lot of science behind cultivating plants, and I don’t know a lot about it. There’s some stuff about soil acidity, composition – sandy or clay, how much nutrients there is in the soil. All of these factors determine what kind of seeds you should be planting in your soil, and to a large extent what shape the plant that grows out of the soil looks like.
We are that soil, that soil is our lives, our emotions, thoughts, feelings, actions and more. If you don’t know what kind of soil you are how do you know what aspects of the Jesus-plant God is going to try and grow in you?
So knowing yourself, and seeing yourself how God sees you is important. I asked myself before writing this blog, and it was this question that finally provoked me to write again – “How does God see me?” How would God describe me to a friend?
The first adjective I thought of was burnt out and it didn’t get better for a while after that… jaded, tired, frustrated, missing the point.
That’s how I feel at the moment, searching for the right job (Ie one that pays me well enough to be able to pay my dues) is not easy, there is a lot of rejection out there, and I feel that perhaps a lack of introspect on who I actually am – the person God made me to be is the root of all my problem.
I prayed for a bit, got distracted, prayed some more, changed the playlist on my laptop, prayed some more. Then I looked at the questions again – How would God describe me?
I don’t know for sure, but I know that when God looks at me, He sees my flaws (which are legion), and He sees my good qualities (which are improving I hope) and while looking at all of that He also sees all the potential there is inside me.
Some of the adjectives I hope God would use to describe me are; thoughtful, introspective, passionate, a little bit patient and caring.
I guess thinking about that I wish I saw more of the fruits of the spirit in there. There is a lot I have to work on I know.
Part of my identity is as I said above, that I’m an introspective person – “In psychology the process of introspection relies exclusively on observation of one’s mental state, while in a spiritual context it may refer to the examination of one’s soul.” –Wikipedia.
This introspective aspect of my nature reflects a lot during my worship. I’m an introspective worshipper as well.
I go to a church where there is a lot of outward expression during worship. Some people raise their hand(s), kind of weave back and forward on the same spot, stamp their feet more or less in time with the music. Some people cry, some people laugh, some shout and some (moi) like to sit down in their chair and think about what it is they are singing.
When Eilidh (my fiancee) and I first started going to church together it was really because I wanted to make sure that the church she was attending was both theologically and scripturally sound, that Central in Edinburgh, was a church I could trust with looking after my fiancee! Central is a great church, full of expression, full of people and full of the Holy Spirit.
I was instinctively very off put by Central, I mean come on! Look at these people, they’re not singing the hymns I grew up with, and while the music is good, it’s not the music I enjoy singing the most, whats more there was this huge emphasis on emotion.
No no no! My conservative upbringing in the CoS had helped to grow my introspective nature. Yet now I was in this Church where people didn’t turn inwards to worship God, they turned outwards, expressed themselves honestly and openly with their friends and family.
Now, Central is my home church, it’s where I go to learn more about God, where I find community, friends and mutual support. It’s great, a little bit intimidating to start with, but as with a lot of the best things in life, it takes a while to get into the rhythm of Central. When you do though, it is great and I love it.
Yes, there is still a lot of outward expression, and with that outward expression of worship comes outward expressions of the Holy Spirit. People talk openly of the supernatural aspects of Christianity. Gifts of healing, prophecy, discernment and more are not exactly commonplace, but not exactly surprising either.
I went through a period where I really struggled with that, I grew up in a great Church! I love it there. I know that God is actively working in that church as well as my current one, so why the difference in expression?
It comes back down to identity. People who are “Spiritual extroverts” a I like to think of them often have these amazing ministries – Heidi Baker is the first to leap into mind these evening as an example of a famous spiritual extrovert. While I know less about the ministries of Eric Liddell, what I do know of him makes me think that he was more Spiritually Introverted – He believed in the the same Holy Spirit as Heidi Baker, and went out to be a missionary, just like she has. However the expression of the Spirit in those ministries was different. It can’t be argued that they are both successful ministries, cut from the same cloth, but tailored to different people.
So, in conclusion, I think it is of primary importance that people are in touch with the Holy Spirit when they worship, and stand for God. I think the expression of that is secondary to the fact that it is there. Going to, and being apart of spiritually extroverted things is important for me, because it helps me to express my feelings more honestly to God. However I think that the blessings of an introverted spirit are not to be discounted, or dismissed either.
Thanks for reading.