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Archive for July, 2012

So, what type of hermit am I?  I am a fearful hermit or rather; I have the natural tendency to be one.  I realized this about myself early into my walk with God as I sorted through deep scars from my past.  I had to admit that, through a series of harmful relationships in my formative years, it was hard to believe God desired me and nearly impossible to think that I was likeable to people.  I had to wage war on the lie that I was merely tolerable, a lie that many people believe.

By God’s grace and incredible love, I was able to break the chains of that binding mindset.  He also blessed me with a few incredible people to really cement this.  Unfortunately, through a semi-recent loving confrontation by a dear friend, I have been forced to realize that this mindset still follows me around and can, when ignored, affect me even now.

To be humbled by the truth that I am still affected by my past to admit present damage.  To admit present damage is to recognize pain.  To recognize pain, quite frankly, sucks.  Now, I’m certain that His power and love are limitless.  I do, however, believe that tendencies we once held can resurge for a variety of reasons (though never because He’s failed us.)  Even knowing that, however, admitting that this lie still stalks me is a bitter pill to swallow.

So, what am I going to do with this renewed awareness?  What can I do to break my eremitic tendencies?  I wish I had some beautifully-written advice drenched in profundity, but I don’t.  Honestly, there are two straight-forward actions that I’ve found effective.  Theoretically, they should work for all aforementioned types of “faith hermits” (though it’s just a theory.)  Here they are:

  1.  Surrender.  Ask God to strengthen your heart and consistently look to Him for your identity.  You can’t be in any sort of healthy relationship if your senses of identity and worth aren’t grounded in Him.  (Psalm 139, Ephesians 1:4-5, 1 John 3:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:5)
  2. Put yourself out there and let people prove you wrong.  Whether it’s a love of comfort, pride, or fear, we need to give people the option to prove that they are worthy of our trust and that God honors and protects life-giving relationships.  (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12) Now, not everyone is worthy of our most intimate details nor is it healthy to divulge our life stories to everyone.  This only applies to those who are trustworthy and equally committed to authenticity.

Personally, I find the second action to be the most difficult.  I find strength in the fact that God designed us to be in community and therefore He’s ultimately in control.  He knows we need other people and other people need us.  This truth takes the action from highly difficult to incredibly rewarding, to the point that it gets easier every time I’m transparent.  It’s quite wonderful and even kind of addictive.

Until next time…

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I feel like this post is the equivalent of an awkward coffee date with a friend I’ve fallen out of touch with, through my own fault.  You know the kind.  They’re filled with uncomfortable silences as you both stare into your lattes, stirring them far more than any espresso drink should ever be stirred.  However, if the friendship is strong enough, you will eventually get over this and it can be as if you never parted.  I am hoping that this post leads to that as I am so thankful for each and every one of you, whomever you are.  I look forward to posting much more frequently (please hold me to it) and hearing more from you as well.

Onto the post…

When you hear the word hermit, what do you think of?  I think of curmudgeonly old men living in dilapidated cabins in the hills.  They spend their days chopping wood, milking goats, and wielding rusty rifles meant to ward off anyone who threatens their reclusive lifestyle.  I may have just described a combination of a cartoon hillbilly and the grandfather from Heidi.  Anyway, perhaps you share this image.  Perhaps you thought of crustaceans, agoraphobic cat ladies, or even just some synonyms.  Whatever came to mind, I’d be willing to bet that most of you did not think of a relatively vibrant 25-year-old woman living in a metropolitan area.  It’s true though.  Ladies and gentlemen, I happen to be, in some ways, a hermit.

Fear not, I’m not the type that sleeps with a sawed-off shotgun under my pillow nor am I a curmudgeon…often.  No, I am the more subtle, less “out” version of a hermit.  Specifically, I have a tendency to be a “faith hermit.”  What do I mean?  In general, it describes someone who hides or hoards aspects of his or her relationship with God.  In this newer dose of self-awareness, I have been mulling over the concept for some time and I have come up with the following three types of faith hermits to bring further clarity to the definition:

  • The Comfortable Hermit is the type of person who keeps his or her faith hidden because they know that opening up exposes him or her to the risk of being challenged.  Good challenges demand change and change, most often, is uncomfortable.  So, instead of letting another person or group into the depths of their relationship with God (or lack of) for the chance of life more abundant, they choose to live in perceived comfort and subsequent mediocrity.
  • The Prideful Hermit is the kind who hoards his/her faith because he/she believes that others have nothing to offer.  They may not admit or even be aware of it, but there’s a part of them that believes their faith is as good as good can be and they don’t actually need anyone else.  This could even be extension of the Comfortable Hermit in that pride often exists as a means of avoiding change in an area that, at the core, needs it.  They can mask this pride as contentedness when it’s actually just tolerance of complacency.
  • The Fearful Hermit is the type of person who acts based on fears, insecurities, and/or people-pleasing tendencies.  These hermits withdraw because they fear that true honesty with others, even their closest friends and family, will result in rejection, insurmountable rifts, or even the complete cessation of these relationships.  They often believe that their silence—either by hiding their issues or refusing to acknowledge tension—is the best way of protecting themselves and their loved ones.  In truth, it’s doing more harm than good.

These aren’t research-based at all, just observationally inspired.  I’ve seen many a person’s faith, relationships and life harmed by these patterns, including my own at times.  This is why I’m finding new passion for recognizing the behaviors, dispelling the lies, and moving forward.

So, you may be wondering, what type of hermit am I?  You know I’m going to tell you but, in the spirit of working on my lifelong problem with brevity, I am going to leave you in suspense.  I will also leave you with a question.  When you read these categories, were you able to relate to one?  Do you have any of these tendencies?  Are you acting on them right now?   I invite you to join me in asking these hard questions because these are the types of questions that I know, with all my heart, open us up to the real truth that God so desires us to find.  It’s another step in the “life to the full” that Jesus talks about it John 10:10.

Stay tuned…

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