“What if mastering a gentle and quiet spirit don't mean changing my personality, just regaining control of it, growing strong enough to hold back and secure enough to soften?” – Rachel H. Evans
I honestly hate the term ‘bossy’, especially when it’s referring to a woman because it is so often misused. I spoke a little about my temperament personality combination in previous posts, and today I am writing about the struggle that people may have with accepting who they really are and how great they can be in the hands of God. I know I did and it was mainly because I was destined to break molds and challenged to walk in paths where no one around me had ever walked.
I was odd from the start
I am the oldest of three girls, and both my sisters miraculously inherited my mother’s patient, loving and quiet demeanor. I, on the other hand, inherited my father’s personality or “determined spirit” as it’s otherwise called. I was never quiet or calm; I was curious and inquisitive about every single topic under the sun. I knew how to say the alphabet in both Spanish and French at the age of two and spoke both languages fluently by the time I entered kindergarten. I was also born with what I call my ‘thorn in the flesh’ which is my fiery spirit and fierce passion. The problem with this extreme passion is that I am intense about everything; whether it’s Jesus, injustice or a simple pebble on the floor. Needless to say, I was very different kind of girl with great verbal abilities and a BIG personality (for lack of adjectives).
To add to this dangerous personality “fruit salad”, I seemed to have innate leadership qualities. I was always the youngest of the group, but for some reason, even in the school yard, my friends played what I wanted, by my rules. I definitely embodied the 'bossy' definition.
Imagine my parents surprise when they found out that I was not like any other female in my entire family. I was supposed to become a godly, quiet, and submissive woman so that one day I could marry a godly man and make godly babies. This task, however, was looking rather complicated considering my untamed spirit.
Personality transplant: DENIED
As I grew, I subtly started to get the message that I was not only different but that I was: rough, bossy, mean, hard headed, impatient, overly verbal, etc. My father always encouraged me to be independent. He always patiently answered all of my questions and jokingly went along with my unending debates. However, I still felt that something was wrong with me and I needed a change.
I met Jesus, and obviously, the first task he assigned me was to go and apologize to half of the world’s population. It was mostly for things I had said and also for often having a rude attitude. I became very familiar with that gentle yet firm nudge of the Holy Spirit (called conviction) telling me that I was overdoing it and that I needed to calm down.
As a result, my love for Jesus intensified my desire to be more like Him. Since I was always getting in trouble for being me, I concluded that I needed a personality transplant in order to be more like Jesus. Every time, I found myself at the feet of Jesus, yet again asking for forgiveness for the same things: my fiery character had gotten the best of me or my tongue spoke faster than my thoughts could handle or I had gotten impatient with people that had taken too long to ponder on a solution when I had seen the solution miles away. So, I would go back to the cross and ask for forgiveness and find grace. I was sick of this vicious cycle. I wanted a quick fix that involved me becoming angel-like and that would make me soft spoken and miraculously QUIET. I prayed, cried, begged, and asked very nicely and consistently for God to change my personality. God said ‘NO.’ No? What do you mean Lord? He said “I will not give you a personality transplant, my grace is sufficient.”
That is when I got the biggest eye-opening experience and my life was changed forever.
They called me ‘bossy’ but God saw the potential of a warrior
1. My personality is part of my destiny
My name is Valerie (which means strength) and my middle name is Jasmine (speaker of love) and before I knew the meaning of them both, it was hard for me to understand how even my name was part of who I was to become in Christ.
Until then, I hated my personality because I was different and because I dreamed of great things and fearlessly chased after my dreams no matter what people thought or said. I failed to see that every personality has its pros and cons (I only saw part of the picture) and that everyone needs God’s grace to work on their weaknesses and polish their strengths. I was not an exception.
Through literature, prayer and loving mentors, God clearly showed me that I was born with a determined spirit (commonly known as stubbornness) because He planned that in my life I would encounter many thick walls that would require my determined faith to inspire others to work through. He unveiled the explanation behind my love for ‘high risk’ activities and my inability to calculate risk (usually called reckless behavior), showing me that it would be needed in my walk of life to take many huge leaps of faith that would normally scare any sane human being. I also discovered that my above average speaking capabilities would certainly be useful since He had planned to take me to many countries where He wanted me to skillfully speak to them about Him in their language. He wanted me to translate, teach, speak (basically talk a lot more but with purpose) for many years to come. Last but not least (and this was my biggest struggle), God taught me to not be afraid of my leadership skills and my strength; traits that are so often culturally categorized as male characteristics. He also taught me to be confident in the beauty of it because He was raising me to lead many in different functions and seasons of my life. These discoveries blew my mind and still do because who am I that the maker of the universe would pay special attention to every detail of my life (2 Corinthians 2:9). And He did the same for you.
2. Our frustration is often part of the calling and success
It was then that I understood Paul’s prayer to God asking for the removal of his ‘thorn’ in the flesh which sounded awfully similar to my personality transplant request (2 Corinthians 12:9, 10). He probably wanted a quick and easy solution to his weaknesses but God chose to leave it there so that he would constantly have to go back to the cross and get his daily dose of grace. It is frustrating, but it is my very weakness that keeps me mostly connected to my Heavenly Father. It is in my weaknesses that God’s power is made perfect, and his power fixes and perfects my strengths each day and uses them for His glory. My thorn keeps me humble and aware of my humanity, which is really the road to success. When we decrease, God’s character grows in us. You want to be great and successful? Well darling, death is on the menu. Death to our pride, to our ‘know-it-all’ attitude, to our lack of love of who we really are as well as the fear of discovering how extraordinary we were made to be.
3.The man for me would not be afraid of my strength but will encourage it
Now let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Ok Val, you love yourself, but do men really want a woman with too much to say or with a competitive nature; a girl that strives for success and is not traditional at all? I am voluntarily picking on my personality type because this is who I am, but every personality has the same load of good/ bad. Same grace is available, don’t forget that.
Many well-intentioned people warned me about being so outspoken and intense about things. They lovingly advised me that men would be intimidated by my strength. However, God has taught me that real confident men are NOT intimidated by strong women but instead know how to bring out their very best. Years before I met my husband, I dealt with my personality conflict and started to truly love that part of myself (which is why before you can love others you must allow God to teach you how to love YOURSELF) and decided to put to death all detrimental behavior.
I can say with assurance that my husband is a true, confident, strong, wise man of God. He is fully aware of my personality and loves every bit of it. He loves that I love so passionately, that I am a trooper in the hardest of times, that I fiercely chase after the dreams God has put in my heart even if I die trying. We are both complete self-sufficient individuals, but putting us together was God’s stroke of genius because in so many ways we balance each other out. My husband nurtures and encourages my dreams while giving me the freedom to be who I truly am. He is never intimidated by my zeal because he is fully aware and safe in his identity. He always listens and he always lovingly challenges me to be more Christ like. (I’ll ask him if I do the same to him and let you know ha!)
How many fears are hiding behind your pretty face? Have people or circumstances made you believe that you are too much of something and perhaps not enough of something else? You and you alone determine what people will see in you. Your identity is found in the one who made you. Stop fighting your destiny; instead, prepare for it. It’s never too late!