I must confess that I love knowledge. Especially as it pertains to people and what makes them tick. I like to understand how people … particularly those who are nearest and dearest to me … work.
Why do some people view life one way, when others see things in a completely opposite manner?
What makes the dynamics a certain way between two people in a particular relationship? And yet those same two people may relate in a completely different manner with other people. Why is that?
Why are some folks shy and aloof? Why are others outgoing? Why do particular people make you feel safe and warm? And why do others make you feel like fingernails on a chalkboard?
This quest to know has been part of my psychological makeup for as long as I can remember. At first, I attributed human differences to astrology and the signs of the Zodiac. “Oh, you’re a Taurus … no wonder you are so stubborn.” Then I read a series of birth order books. “Oh, you’re a firstborn, so that’s why you are an overachiever.” Later, I was introduced to the concept of the four basic personality temperaments: Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic, and Phlegmatic … and the many variations thereof. (Apparently I am not the only one fascinated with this type stuff; if you do an on-line search on personality, you will be amazed at all the resources you find.) There are tests to determine how your unique personality influences you in the workplace, in marriage, in parenting, etc.
Couple my need to know the how and why of “relationship ticking” with my analytical nature, and you come out with someone who loves all those types of testing tools. When I was homeschooling my children, they suffered through more of these kinds of testing sessions than they probably care to remember. I wanted to know what these tests said about their temperaments and personality traits so I could better understand them and how they inter-related. We took personality tests. We took spiritual gifts inventories. We took aptitude testing to see what careers they would be best at. You name it, we probably “tested” it. I was in my glory, because I just loved the discovery of it all. It simply fascinated me. Still does. And I honestly find it odd when people do not share my enthusiasm in learning about these things.
Over the years, I have come to understand that my desire to know, my need to analyze, and my enthusiasm in the quest are part of the gifting that my heavenly Father saw fit to include in the unique package He fashioned together in me. (And he put an equally unique form-fitted gift into every one of us.) He made me the way I am in order that I will have the tools necessary to accomplish the plans and purposes He has created for me to fulfill while I’m here on this earth (Ephesians 2:10). It’s okay that others aren’t just like me; in fact, it is good that there is only one of me, for the world would be hard-pressed to deal with more than that! And it is equally okay that I am not just like everyone else. God doesn’t make cookie cutter people. He makes originals every time.
So there is abundant and unique blessing in the gift package I came with, even if it might feel like fingernails on a chalkboard to some folks. However, a person’s gifting should also come with a warning label, because when applied the wrong way, these gifts can do more harm than good, both to the “gifted” and to the recipients of the gifting.
For me, my need to know can at times pass beyond interest and understanding and go straight to taking what I understand about personality and relationships and using it to pigeonhole people; when I see their behavior or thought processes as predictable, it always leads to prideful assumptions and painful misunderstandings, rather than just letting the people I love be who they are and tell me what they think or feel. A novel idea, right?!
I had an epiphany just this morning, regarding my “need to know.” Our family has recently been dealing with an unexpected circumstance that has come up; one of our children has decided to divorce, and it came as quite an emotional shock. Some time has passed since the initial announcement, and I have had a chance to process and settle my emotions; overall I am feeling more peace in the midst of things, but there are times that I agonize over what we might have done differently as parents to help our child avoid this painful situation. I’ve been reading a book that I felt might shed some light, “doing my research,” so to speak, as is so true to my God-given nature. The author suggested many things parents might do to help their children navigate the world and all its ills in a secure and stable fashion, and I recognized that hubby and I fell short in more ways than one.
Lord, if we’d have done “this” or “that,” would things have gone down differently? I wondered.
In essence, I was pleading with Him …
I gots to know!!!!! How did this happen? Am I responsible?
His answer came in that still small voice I have come to know and love, and I was filled with conviction and peace at the same time, as well as with a sense of well-being and confidence.
I heard His words coming from my own mouth:
Why are you doing this to yourself?
What good is it doing?
What would you do if you did know the answer to that question?
Can you go back and change the past?
Will assigning blame make you feel better?
(And, yes, I do talk to myself…)
Did you make mistakes as parents? Yes. You are human. Humans make mistakes.
Did your mistakes contribute to the thought processes that led to decisions that may have precipitated the circumstances facing your child today? Probably.
And by the way, if I happen to reveal any of that to you, it’s to help you know how to pray for the situation, and to help you ask forgiveness from your child if necessary. It is not to give you permission or a reason to condemn yourself; there is no more condemnation (Romans 8:1).
Were your mistakes solely responsible for this circumstance? No. Remember that little thing that I put into each one of you when I created you? Free will? That free will operates in every single one of you, and that free will must take at least partial credit for every challenging circumstance that makes its way into a life.
And He closed with this:
Wouldn’t your time be better spent reminding yourself of the truth of My faithfulness to you and your children? If you spend your time meditating on Who I am; remembering that nothing is a surprise to Me, because I know the end from the beginning; considering that I am the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and that all of My good purposes will be accomplished and prevail over the assignments of the enemy, because their accomplishment depends on Me and not on you … you will find a peace, a joy, and a strength that can never be had any other way. This is walking in the Spirit.
When you let your need to know become your driving force, the thing that you trust in for your peace, security, hope, and solution, it becomes a god; you become the god of your own life. You are in control, rather than resting in My control.
Let it go. Leave it with Me.
I love you.
I love your family.
I got this.
You don’t gots to know anything but that!