Big brown bear pacing in the sunlight at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

People’s opinions can be a trap

I took an abbreviated Myers Briggs personality test the other day and came back as an ISFJ. It’s not the full test, but it’s fairly accurate, I think, which is kind of amazing. One of the points that really stood out to me in the description of what an ISFJ is, was the part about needing positive feedback and dealing with harsh criticism. I like to tell myself that I don’t care what people think, but it’s not true. I try not to let it bother me, but deep inside, people’s opinions matter. People’s opinions are an extension of who they are, and if people don’t have a positive opinion of me or of my writing or of anything I care about, I tend to take it personally.

But you can’t live that way–basing your life on other people’s opinions. Well, maybe you can live that way, but it’s not healthy or productive. People’s opinions change and oftentimes they are based on untruths or bias. It’s good to get opinions. It’s good to seek opinions. But it’s rarely wise to build your life on them.

Big brown bear pacing in the sunlight at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Big brown bear pacing in the sunlight at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Proverbs 29:25.

Fearing people is a dangerous trap,
but trusting the Lord means safety.

Be careful of other people’s opinions. Don’t misunderstand me: opinions are good. And it’s good to voice your opinions if they’re constructive and humble and well-intentioned, but if you’re going to voice your opinion, recognize that your word isn’t gospel. People have a right to disagree with you, and just because they disagree doesn’t mean they hate you. That’s part of the problem in America right now. We have this idea that disagreeing with someone equals hate or dislike, and that’s not true. Disagreement is one of the things that made this country. Disagreement is healthy. No one who is honest will believe that everyone will agree on every topic.

So be free to voice your opinions, but be okay if people disagree with you.

And if you’re an ISFJ like me, remember that people are certainly entitled to their opinions but that doesn’t mean you have to change your life to suit them.

You can trust people, yes, but remember that people are broken. People are flawed. People misunderstand and jump to conclusions and make decisions based on bias and prejudice. The one opinion you can fully trust is God’s. Why? Because He’s God. He doesn’t make mistakes. He doesn’t fly off the handle and change His mind at the drop of a hat. He doesn’t have biases or prejudices to color His judgment. He doesn’t have a hidden agenda that dictates His actions. His only agenda is the same one He’s been obvious about since the beginning of time.

It’s easy to trust people’s opinions because they’re loud about them and if you’re naturally an introvert or one of those types of personalities, it’s easy to follow. But remember that you have to be careful who you decide to follow. If you’re going to follow, make sure it’s someone who knows where they’re going.

Getting the opinion of a trusted friend is a good idea. Always. If it’s someone you know is grounded in truth, someone you know is dedicated to doing what God says is right, you can trust their opinion because they trusted God first. But when it all comes down to the end, it’s not going to be you and all your friends and God who have to give a reason for why you made the decisions you made. When the clock of the universe stops ticking, the person who will be responsible for your choices in life is you. Not your parents. Not your teachers. Not your friends. Not even God.

You make choices every day, and you can choose to follow the crowd or follow God’s word. When it comes to an opinion, who do you think is going to be more trustworthy?

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I’m not all right but I’m still peachy

Does God have to hit you over the head with a tw0-by-four on the rare occasion to get you to pay attention? He does that to me an awful lot. I think He does it to help me remember that I don’t know everything and that I’m still very young.

Yesterday I didn’t really go into my thoughts on the verse of the day because I didn’t want to get emotional before I went to work.

Today, since the verse of the day is basically talking about the same thing, I’m going to write down what I’m thinking about it even if I end up crying about it becuase I’ve learned not to ignore things like this. When God is obviously telling me to deal with something, I need to deal with it and not ignore it.

Psalm 18:1-2

1 I love you, Lord;
      you are my strength.
 2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
      my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
   He is my shield, the power that saves me,
      and my place of safety.

What do you do when you feel threatened or scared? What do you do when you get upset about something that’s happened in your life?

If you’re anything like me, you hide it. There’s something inside me that hates displaying any sort of weakness to anybody. I know it’s prideful, but it’s my first instinct. Something upsets me–makes me feel like crying–and I automatically shut that part of myself down and ignore it. Like taking all those emotions and shoving them down deep until I can function without really feeling them.

But I think that’s a lie I tell myself. I still feel the emotions I’ve hidden, but they come out in different ways. I get snappier. I get sharper with people. I can’t focus.

I live in denial in a way, I guess. I don’t deny that it happened; I just refuse to think about it. And that’s not healthy.

It’s not managing my emotions. It’s hiding from them. And that’s not healthy.

When I’m threatened or scared or upset about something, I run away from it and bury myself in diversions. I don’t actually face the problem.

What this verse today (and the verse yesterday) tell me is that I’m looking at it all wrong. I shouldn’t run away from the things that upset me. I should run to God with them.

I need to run to Him and tell Him everything that’s bothering me without letting my pride get in the way, and He will take care of it. He’ll protect me. I don’t have to be strong because He is strong for me.

The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
      my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
   He is my shield, the power that saves me,
      and my place of safety.

I can take my sadness to Him and He won’t wonder why I’m sad. I can take my weakness to Him and He won’t think less of me. He’ll just listen. He’ll just be. He won’t try to fix anything or explain why I shouldn’t feel the way I feel. He’ll just love me and let me be sad, and I think that’s what I need. I need to feel safe being sad, to let myself admit that it’s okay to not feel all right about things.

There’s a song called “I’m Not All Right” by a group called Sanctus Real. I was thinking about it just now. There are so many Christians out there who think that we have to be happy all the time and that we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be sad because it’s a bad witness. And that’s foolish. Even the great heroes of the Bible mourned and grieved when someone they loved died or when something terrible happened. As a follower of Christ, we are always to have joy, but being joyful doesn’t mean we always have to be happy.

I’m sad. I’m sad that Grandma Bea died. I know that we weren’t close, and I know that I probably shouldn’t be as upset as I am. But I’m still sad. I don’t really know why. It was expected. I knew it was going to happen, and maybe it’s more that I’m sad that time is passing faster and faster every day and there’s nothing I can do about it. I just know I’m sad and being sad is okay for now.

So I’m going to be sad. And I’m going to grieve. But I won’t stay that way. Because God is my refuge and He is also my Healer. And what I don’t understand, He already figured out before He made the world. That’s why I’m always peachy, even when I’m sad.

Written from my parents’ house

Well, I’m back in Wichita. Made it safely with only an hour delay in Houston because they couldn’t find the flight crew. I had a good laugh about that, guessing that the flight crew didn’t want to come north either. Although, for that matter, it was freezing in Houston too. Around 28F. Poor Texans were all walking around bundled up like snowmen looking bewildered. It was kind of funny.

Mom and Dad picked me up at the airport, and we got back to their house. And it was cold and snowy and icy and dark, and I didn’t think it was wise to continue on home. So, I just stayed here. I’ll probably go home early today. I’m concerned about my big old farmhouse and a couple of straight days with lows in the subzeros.

So I’m getting ready to head to work in a few moments. The verse of the day today is wonderful. Just saying. In the brief moments I have, I won’t be able to really do it justice. That and if I really get into it, I’m going to be a red-eyed crying mess before I get to work and that’s probably not a good idea.

What I love about the Psalms is that they are simple. They are easy to understand and they are beautiful, encapsulating so much emotion in true, real poetry.

So, I’m going to be lazy today and not even really go into my thoughts on this verse. I’m just going to put it down because I don’t think I can say anything about it that it doesn’t say for itself.

Psalm 59:16

16 But as for me, I will sing about your power.
      Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love.
   For you have been my refuge,
      a place of safety when I am in distress.

I don’t know about all of you, but I desperately needed this today.

May it be as much of a blessing to you as it is to me.