We are in the middle of some very uncomfortable times. Politically, socially, environmentally…the list goes on. I can easily think of 10 conversations that would instantly plunge me into discomfort. The tension on FB, for example, is so thick right now that I wince when a friend posts “the truth,” afraid of what someone is going to say or comment. I wince as I anticipate my own mental conflict.
You can imagine then, with “the truth” constantly shifting from person to person, post to post, and group to group, there’s a lot of wincing going on from my corner.
I shouldn’t be uncomfortable, right? On some level it seems un-American that I should allow myself to be uncomfortable when I could just control it. I could turn off my FB notifications. I could hide people who post things that cause all the wincing. YET, I can not in good conscience run away from engagement.
So I turned the question around. Why should I be uncomfortable?
First of all, I’ve come to see the root of my personal issue with the tension-packed posts and opinions and comments. As my assessment-loving hubby pointed out to me, I’m an INFP,* and as such, I am uncomfortable with conflict, with opinion-giving, with throwing out my “stances” on things. Yes, part of this discomfort is truly personality-based! I just want to reach harmony among everyone continually.
Okay, but that’s not all. There is a second, and actually, deeper root cause. The root of the total problem is…(DRUMROLL)…I don’t align my thoughts to the Truth.
My doctor husband has helped me to see how both facets–personality and misaligned thoughts/actions–have landed me in this quagmire of discomfort. He embraces conflict, runs to it, almost thrives on it. In his own words, if something or someone isn’t trying to break down or die, he isn’t going to pay attention to it.
He is absolutely sure where he stands on his issues. I am not. He doesn’t care or change his opinion on an issue based on what others may think of his opinion. I don’t necessarily change my opinion; though I change what I say my opinion is. In conflict situations, I flee while my hubby fights because I am afraid what I think or what I do (or what others will think or do in response to me) will cause others to be uncomfortable. He, on the other hand, has a plan of action based on what he knows works in that situation, and if that makes someone else uncomfortable, well, so what. If for some reason, he isn’t sure what the plan of action is, he is confident that he’ll figure it out once he gets in the thick of it.
My personality definitely gets in the way, but what about that underlying issue–the thoughts/action misalignment? To get at this, another set of uncomfortable questions rises.
Does Truth exist and what is it?
As a Christian, the answer comes quickly though not necessarily with the details I am looking for. Yes, there is Truth. Only I don’t always know how to line up these social, political, and yes, even environmental questions to it. So I go to the one source which hasn’t failed me yet.
The Bible. The word Truth abounds here–and in a time where Truth is so craved yet so rarely fearlessly shared, tapping into these words provides the steadiness this INFP needs!
The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever. Psalm 116:160
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Ephesians 4:25
We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. 1 John 4:6
It’s what God has to say about things that matters most–and despite how appealing subjectivity on specific issues is to me, I realize that there is no need for me to even swim in that ocean. The highest duty, my chief end, is to follow the greatest commandment, given in the Old Testament and repeated again in the New:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Deuteronomy 6:5
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40
This Truth, God’s truth, provides us the backdrop against which we are to process and think and act in all areas of life. It is not up to me!!! This is a relief as my actions when based on my truth are often swayed so easily by my feelings, past experiences, or accumulated knowledge.
In our humanity, it’s sometimes just more comfortable to forget or ignore God’s Truth and instead let cultural expectations, societal norms, and personality even, shape our thoughts, values and actions. But giving in to this will bind us and make us less free to be present with others–so much so that we may actually lose our ability to be uncomfortable about what we see, hear, and feel happening around us.
And I guarantee, without being able to be uncomfortable, I will lose my ability to relate with…well, anyone on well, anything.
Instead of worrying about whether someone is going to ridicule me for my opinion on a matter or my stance on an issue, I can rest on what God says, His opinion, His commands. Specifically, I can rely on the truth of God. In turn, this frees up my focus to lean my attention to others and learn where they are coming from (without being defensive), why they think how they do (without judging) and simply loving them no matter how divergent our opinions might be (the greatest commandment after all).
And when they ask that charged question, I am free to speak my opinion as well as the roots for it, careful to separate what is opinion for what is Truth.
Ultimately, we should not quell the uncomfortable, as it is this very thing which drives us to realize deeper truths about ourselves, and perhaps discover where the alignment is off between what we think (believe) and what we do.
*The Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is an introspective self-report questionnaire designed to indicate psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. According to the personality assessment, INFPs are driven by a strong sense of right and wrong and a desire to exercise their creativity, even if only behind the scenes. Their weaknesses may include sensitivity to criticism, poor organization, and low assertiveness. You can take a free online version of the questionnaire by clicking here.