Author and Enneagram expert Suzanne Stabile says that when she discerns her steps in a new season, she asks herself, “Well, what’s mine to do?“. **
Understanding what’s mine to do means looking beyond the obligations at all the “reach” options and projects, and picking just the ones that I am uniquely positioned, and tooled up for. And letting the rest go because those other things are NOT mine to do.
I really like that take. It wipes the floor with my old filter for choosing My Goals. I wish you could see me smirking at the very idea of My Goals – especially after the spin-cycle of a year that 2018 has been.
Candidly, this year I lost and found (and lost and found) my way so many times that my journals look like darling art projects, smeared with rough drafts of schedules. I’ve started more things than I’ve finished. And, gratefully, I have taken on new rhythms and said more NO’s, creating margin for big Yeses.
When the dust settled, I came to terms with what’s mine to do, and God used a very unexpected truth to glide me back on course. He began by asking me a question.
Whenever he catches me unreasonably irked (or frustrated beyond reason) about something, he asks me,
“Why are you offended about that? What’s going on there?”
Then he leaves me to sit in it, wondering. This is not hypothetical. He reminds me that I DO have ears to hear. What offends me is some kind of a tell.
On the top layer of it, feeling offended means that I think I know better, or that someone has blown past the rules that I think are considerate rules, rules that I like, and that person has made me uncomfortable.
I’ve been studying the book of Mark this fall, too, (you know I love me some gospel of Mark), and the way that Jesus offended people just keeps coming up.
I wonder why.
God, himself, is offended by injustice (Isaiah 59:15). So offended that it makes him want to do damage. Not because evil-doers are evil, but because his OWN people act like they are powerless to help. In Isaiah 59 we read that he determines he must rise for the defenseless himself. And that is a thorny truth.
Here’s another one. I don’t know squat about hunger, and I’ve worked in the food relief world for three plus years. The gap between what I used to think and what I’m ready to start to understand is closing, but, it was a colossal gap. A little improvement is a drop in a bucket.
I often feel like I am standing in front of the Grand Tetons with just flip-flops and a Venti Iced Pike. Ill-outfitted and inappropriately casual in the face of a dead-serious obstacle.
Last month at a food pantry where I was helping out, I saw a mother of six, 1-2-3-4-5-6, getting the food she could for them, quietly. The youngest was pushed in an umbrella stroller by an older sibling, and that baby was snacking on a bruised banana. It was old fruit, the kind you and I MIGHT put in a banana bread, but the baby was busy, and, for the moment, satisfied. That mattered because Mom had a big job to do.
But it b o t h e r e d me. I wanted to take the banana out of her three-inch hands and be her savior. Thank God I didn’t, because my next thought was for the dignity of that Mom who was showing the hell up for those kids that day, doing brave things.
I refused to shame her. Mercy outwitted offense.
You know when God unblinds you because he sets you down gently in a place you would not have otherwise landed. You feel scarred and schooled.
Moments like that give us a hard-stop in our rambling life narrative. We breathe and get a new perspective, and sometimes, that breath is a gasp.
I’m catching up with my heart, which is already out in front of my head.
Lately, that looks like listening to the voice of God as he’s helping me to learn from what offends me so that I can be less ruffled and distracted and get back to loving people well – or, um, a little better than before.
Here’s the good news, and it is right here for us. When God shows us what we have overlooked, he does not leave us knocked-out senseless. We get new specs. He shares what offends him with his Bride, the Church, so we can do what’s ours to do.
Very often the answer to why I feel offended is that I just feel out of control. And that’s ok. It’s getting better. When I invite God into my arrogant insecurities (insert your own raw struggle), he pushes up his considerable sleeves and gets to work. He is not offended by my sin, he was bloodied to wash it clean.
I am doing what’s mine to do. I’m letting myself be offended by needs that are messy and close, and seeing what comes of it. Listening for what my pissed-off-compassion finds hands to change. Sometimes it’s too heavy, and at times, I need help.
Who am I kidding. It is always too heavy and I always need Help ❤️
**Suzanne Stabile quote comes from the Going Scared Podcast by Jessica Honegger, episode 28
If you have not read it, Imperfect Courage is a must-read for anyone who feels like she is not enougth, and wants to snap out of it.