We had an array of books and newspapers to keep us occupied. My husband had been at a training course for work and lectured me for a while on how to run a good business and how to spot a bad one! He also insisted that I complete the questionnaire he had done – “What makes me tick?” It is entirely possible that if I did the same questionnaire today I might have chosen different answers. All these things are supposed to be about the first gut reaction, not carefully considered or dissected. I wasn’t supposed to think too much about my answers.
Did I set myself reasonable challenges and meet them? Reasonable challenges? Yes! Meeting them? Not always. I have a lazy gene that pops up every so often.
Did I enjoy starting conversations with strangers? Seriously? I find it challenging to start conversations with people I know well! I also have a shy gene that I constantly battle with.
Was I a risk taker? I am reminded of the verse in the book of Proverbs about the man who won’t leave his house because there might be a bear or a lion walking down the road. I am not that bad but I cannot condemn the man.
Do I avoid confrontation and conflict? I would like to avoid it, yes. Most times it is not avoidable. I would say that I wind myself up to deal with these things. The conversation in my head as I approach the situation sounds very reasonable and balanced but like all the conversations I have with myself I forget that I’m not dealing with me. The other person doesn’t follow my script. Emotions get whipped up to hurricane force and, reason, like age-old trees in a tropical storm, gets knocked over. Carefully-rehearsed words trip out of the mouth in the wrong order.
Do I fear silence? No. I don’t feel the need to fill a silence with words. I recognise and appreciate silence.
Do I handle criticism well? Does anyone? In my early years of writing I was devastated when someone picked fault in things I had written. It was as if they had pulled a limb from my baby and quite callously too.
After I had finished the list of questions with agree or disagree – no maybes on offer – my husband did the adding up. It turns out that yesterday, on a train from Inverness to Glasgow, after a very wet and squelchy day in the city centre and after a passing passenger, with a large rucksack on their back, had knocked a plastic cup of orange juice over my kindle, and the sun was cooking me slowly through the train window – I rated really high on security and affiliation and very poorly on achievement and influence! I need to feel safe AND that someone liked me.
As I was answering the questions I was aware that the end result didn’t look good. I was turning out to be a cowardly wuss. I felt like a train heading for a cliff and despite pulling on the brakes it was still relentlessly steaming ahead.
I am convinced that on another day the answers would have been different. The questionnaire caught me at the wrong time and wrong place!
I am equally convinced that regardless of wrong times and wrong places there is always a better response open to me.
I was wondering how the apostle Paul might have answered the questionnaire faced with prison bars and chains. On a Wednesday perhaps when the stink of the place was overwhelming and his feet or hands chaffed from the heavy cuffs he might have given one set of answers. On a Friday perhaps after seeing Luke or John Mark the previous day or holding a letter in his hand from one of the churches he might have given a different set of answers. I can’t believe Paul didn’t have his own cowardly wuss moments.
But that’s it – they were just moments, perhaps even whole days or weeks, maybe a month of two of cowardly wuss – but they were passing and they did not define who he was or how he behaved. And they were far outweighed by the courageous warrior moments.
Sitting with God this morning I confessed I was a cowardly wuss. He didn’t disagree but reminded me that I didn’t have to always be a cowardly wuss. My need to feel safe? – He would always meet that. My need to know that someone liked me? – He loves me unconditionally!