A lot has changed over this summer. I moved three times, I got a job that I’ll be working throughout the school year, and I’ve been revealed to a series of struggles that I didn’t care to acknowledge before. As I’ve talked about elsewhere, I’m not good at talking to people. It’s not just in big groups or crowds, either; it happens a lot when I’m around two or three new people. I can’t tell you what makes me quiet and seemingly distant from everyone around me, but I can tell you that it needs to change.
Back when I had that lunch with my pastor, Tony, about how I ought to be more engaging with others, I was mad. I got agitated by the whole action of talking to me about how I tend to isolate myself from everyone on retreats or just group settings in general. Ever since that lunch, I’ve been trying to figure out why I was mad and as I was reading through Luke the other day, I figured it out. I wasn’t mad because of any error Tony made or the errors of anyone else; I was mad because it was something that I knew I needed to change, but didn’t want to.
Like my grandpa, I’m pretty set in my ways. I have a very small list of meals that I regularly eat, I like to use two towels instead of one when I shower, and no matter where I go, I always bring my laptop, Bible, and another book I happen to be reading just in case I get bored. If you were to ask me why I do these things, I’d probably give you a quick response. It’s not because I get annoyed at people asking me about my set ways, but it’s because I know why I do them and I know why I don’t want to change. The reason I was mad at Tony for bringing up my isolation issues was because I didn’t want to suddenly start hanging out with people. I didn’t want to change.
“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.” – Luke 11:34
What this verse taught me was that I need to perceive things a little differently. My desire to be alone isn’t something that God intended (Gen. 2:18), therefore I need to take a step back, erase all my comfort zones – erase all my set ways – and consider an alternative perspective, an alternative way of living. That’s exactly what we should be doing every single day we come before the Lord.
This journey we’re on is going down a very narrow road. And with as many times as I’ve fallen off the path, it seems to be a very windy one. And also with as many heartaches and emotional struggles I’ve felt, it’s a very bumpy and painful ride. Such pain, I believe, is necessary. It’s not like our souls were perfectly normal before we came to Christ; the very act of coming to Christ is admitting that we’re flawed. No, on the contrary, our souls were mortally wounded from the poison of sin. If our souls were our bodies, then we would bring them to Christ full of bullets and bleeding ceaselessly. Him extracting these bullets is the pain or frustration or agitation we feel when we need to change something within our characters, within our souls, within our hearts.
I wanted to tell Tony that it wasn’t any of his business to wonder why I’m so quiet and disengaged when I’m around groups of people. I wanted to tell him all the reasons why I like being alone. And I wanted to remain set in my ways because I just didn’t want to change. My ways are oftentimes so incredibly comfortable and familiar that I am almost complacent to them. The reason why I was so worked up after talking with Tony was because Christ had lay hold of another bullet embedded deep within my soul and had to wiggle extra hard to get it out. And now that it’s out, it’ll take some getting used to.
Whether I wanted to or not, I’ve been thrust into a life of Godly love. I have new brothers, new sisters, and new family members of all kinds wanting to get to know me because I’m now a part of the family. Yes, I know, I’ve been in the family for about eight and a half years, but in that long period of time, I haven’t done much to let other people into my life. No, even though Christ was calling me to change – even though He was telling me the bullet of independence needed to be removed – I refused to listen. I remained stubborn. And so my heart was filled with reckless emotions (like the agitation I held against Tony).
What Christ has opened my eyes to is the fact that I can never return to the way I used to be. More and more each day I’m being shaped, being molded into His likeness, into His character, into His heart, and into His kingdom. Therefore the quicker I am to accept, embrace, and commit the rest of my life to this, the quicker the wounds will heal. It all depends on how I want to view things; my way or God’s way. My way is easy; I don’t have to change at all. But since I’ve accepted God’s ways, I must also accept the pain, the struggle, the difficulty that they are. Engaging people is just one of the many difficulties I’ll face down this windy, bumpy, narrow road. It’s just one of the bullets that needs to be removed.