Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Trying to find joy and peace

You can't find your purpose if you feel like a failure.

That came to my mind as I was contemplating my latest assignment. My counselor told me that right now I should only be worried about two things.
  1. Do I enjoy doing this?
  2. Does this give me a continued sense of peace?
I suppose for a lot of people that may be a simple assignment. It seems almost impossible to me. I am just not used to thinking in those terms. I'm tempted to say that most of what I do is more out of obligation, so I rarely think about whether I am enjoying it or finding peace. However, I think the truth is, most of what I do is motivated by wanting people to like me (which often leads to doing things out of obligation, but the obligation is to myself - I want people to like me).

Sometimes I wonder, though, if I want people to 'like' me... or if I just don't want people to 'dislike' me. There is a difference. I can be okay with people who are indifferent to me. I just can't handle it when people don't like me though. Or, maybe it's more a case of... not being accepted. My counselor says the most dominant trait in my personality is my sensitivity. I know some people find this hard to believe, but I really am a very sensitive person. I keep asking the counselor if there is a way to NOT be so sensitive, because I don't like being so sensitive and having my feelings hurt so easily. He tells me that this is actually a good trait - especially for someone in ministry. I say it hurts like hell, but... I know what he means. I suppose it wouldn't be very helpful to be totally insensitive. But still...

I guess the thing is, this 'sensitivity' trait leads me to need to feel accepted. So when I am not feeling accepted, I feel like a failure and it throws off my entire way of being. When people reject me or do mean things to me or betray me... I just have a really hard time not only dealing with that, but dealing with all of life in general. This is where I am.

So when I try to consider questions like, "Does this bring me joy or peace," it's difficult for me because what brings me joy and peace is being loved and accepted. If I am feeling alienated or rejected, even those things that do bring me joy and peace don't give that feeling because I am overwhelmed by the alienation and rejection.

The simple solution would seem to be to just remove myself from those situations which could lead to being rejected or alienated. However I'm not sure that's the right thing. The right thing is to try to find my joy and peace (contentment) in my relationship with God. Contentment comes from our reality divided by our expectations. So I may need to change my reality, but I certainly need to change my expectations.

This is about the time the thought entered my mind that, "You can't find your purpose if you feel like a failure." I have let myself talk myself into thinking I am a failure because there are some people who don't like me. This has so overwhelmed me that I have lost my sense of purpose (from God). So... I'm supposed to quit thinking about those things which have caused me to feel like a failure, in order that I might someday be able to think clear enough to find my purpose again. It is highly unlikely this can be done in three months (or so I'm told), but it's a start.

NOTE: This is a pretty personal post and I'm really just trying to 'think out loud.' PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE... don't read too much into this. I am not making a diagnoses or claim of understanding. I'm just writing stuff. Okay? I'm trying to work things out in my mind as best as I can, and this is one of the ways I like to do it. If you can't handle that, then please leave me alone. Please.


MR said...

this IS a personal subject, but also an important one, so I don't want to NOT post something just because I might screw it up. But, it's just my thoughts. I think most people can identify with the part of wanting to fit in, wanting to be accepted. I've always described myself as reclusive, but I'm "good at" socializing. As the youngest in a big family my birth order dictates that I be entertaining and attention-seeking. So I really used to care what people thought of me. Now it's just my family that still has any leverage. The evolution in my case was confidence. You are PERFECT for your job. Unfortunately the toll it takes makes you a finite, consumable resource rather than a renewable energy. I apologize in advance for bringing up Star Trek, but this is how I communicate. In one episode the transporter splits Kirk into a good Kirk and an evil Kirk. The evil Kirk got tossed in the bridge pretty quickly, he couldn't hold it together and function in society. The good Kirk was on the bridge, but found it hard to lead because he had a self-doubt. The episode, based on a very real psychological point, is that the two sides needed each other. At some point in my life, I developed confidence when I looked at the people who reveled in their "in group/click" and decided I was better than them. I would characterize it as evil Mike judging them. In the myriad of personalities out there, seeking acceptance from them all is absolutely self-destructive. At the end of the day, the only person you control is yourself. In a way, deciding I was better than those people in the click made me a better person, I think. I think acknowledging the flaws in others helps us see them in ourselves, then correct them. (did I just say judging people was good?... meh... okay, yeah!) As part of the DEFENSE that is CONFIDENCE, yes, you need to acknowledge that you are better than some people. If you're taking opinions, I would even say, as one of my friends who DOESN'T owe me money, you're better than a LOT of people. I say this knowing full well you could one day say "you know, Mike's a dick, I'm better than him." Cliff's Notes: you're too good of a guy. Makes you a perfect Pastor, but a self-destructive person. And, sorry God, but if comes down to one or the other, save yourself for a change.

dan horwedel said...

I must have somehow missed this. Thank you, my friend. I do appreciate it.