Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Perceptions vs. Reality

Background Knowledge
Last week for lectures we had Jeff Pratt come and talk about God's heart for us. It was my favorite week of lectures so far. Not only is Jeff an incredibly talented speaker, but he revealed truths to us through his experiences and through movie clips that so closely related to our lives. (Fun fact: I would do DTS all over again just to hear his teaching again. So impactful!!!)

During the week, we were given questions to answer that helped us identify our "false self" - the person we want people to see us as, but not our true selves. After coming together and revealing our false selves to the rest of the group, we discussed who God sees us as. Then there was a time of prayer and affirmation which was super powerful. (These things took place over three days.)

One of the last things Jeff had us do was to write the things we falsely believed about ourselves -our false selves/old names- on one side of the paper, then on the other side what God believes about us in regards to the words we wrote down. He wanted us to have "new names" that we could go back to when we were feeling attacked in those ways again. 

I want to write some of the things that have been revealed to me in my time here. Not all of these are from last week, but I'm realizing all the time that the way I see myself isn't always how God or other people see me.

Introvert vs. Extrovert
I've seen myself as a complete introvert for so long. I always thought that I would rather be alone than with other people, but I'm realizing that I'm not that way at all. There are definitely times that I need to get away and recharge in peace, but I'm generally one who loves being around people. I think my retreating has been more about insecurity than it has been about being an introvert. My time in Belize has been spent mostly with lots of people all the time, and I absolutely love it. But I still won't be the first to speak up in large groups. :)

Bad Speaker vs. Competent Speaker
I have always told people that I'm bad at public speaking. I don't love it, but in the past few months I've been pushed to do it (a ton of times), and I have found that I'm not actually bad at it at all. When I spoke at the churches before coming to Belize, people told me they couldn't tell that I was nervous, and all my presentations here have had comments on the feedback forms about me being a clear and confident speaker. That was a shocking discovery for me.

Tall vs. Short
I know this sounds funny, but until about two weeks ago I thought I was tall. I always thought it was funny that my Auntie Robin called me petite because in my head I'm as tall or taller than most. Two weeks ago in line for lunch I discovered that I am in fact NOT taller than all my "little" friends. I'm the shortest one in my casita and one of the shortest on base.

Rude vs. Friendly
This one was hard to label. I basically believed that people saw me as a rude person because I'm not super outgoing when I meet new people. This stems from high school when I had a friend who told me he thought I was a snob before he got to know me. I realized while talking to a friend at home about this that people don't actually view me this way. I've spent years assuming that people all viewed me as rude, so I rarely made an effort to reach out to new people in fear I would come across wrong. 

Since being here, I'm realizing that people truly don't see me in that way, and it's changing the way I interact with people. So crazy that I let someone's opinion of me become a truth. 

Weak vs. Strong
I came to DTS very guarded. I didn't want anyone to see my emotions because I believed that emotions showed weakness. For whatever reason I felt that I had to be strong all the time and that meant I had to hide myself in order to portray that I had it all together. 

My small group leader and I were talking in a one-on-one and this came up. She asked me some questions then said, "you don't want people to see you as weak, but you're afraid to show your strengths." She challenged me to talk to God about it and to write the things God loves about me so I could find my strengths. 

There is absolutely no way I can write all of the transformation that happened in this area of my life, but God has shown me that many of the things I viewed as weaknesses were actually planted in me on purpose and FOR a purpose. He's showing me that the emotions help direct me to a passion and a purpose, and I will use this information to impact people in crazy cool ways. They're not weaknesses at all. 

In closing..
Like I said before, I'm realizing new things all the time about myself - which is a really cool thing about DTS, but I'm also learning so much about God. There are only two weeks left of lectures and that kind of breaks my heart, but the closer we get to outreach, the more excited I get for that phase. 

Thank you for your continued prayers as we dive into the rest of our week of teaching (on spiritual warfare!) and as our leaders figure out details of our outreach. We still know nothing. Ha! I'll update you when we get answers.

Thanks for reading! If you made it to the end of this monster of a post.. Kudos. 💜

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