Dodging Darts of Discouragement to Discover the Best Version of Me
By Becky Gwartney
I love the study of personalities—learning about the various distinctions in others and realizing God created them that way…for a reason.
This realization has been life-changing and grace-giving for me. Before I studied personalities, I tended to judge others based on what I saw and how it compared to who I was or how I was. When I realized God made some people different from me, and that they hadn’t chosen to be the way they are, it was freeing for me (and for them). I was able to let go of judgmental thoughts about what I perceived as failures.
As a pastor’s wife, I meet all kinds of people, work with all personality types, and minister to people who are sometimes hard to love. Some are easier to work with than others, but don’t think for a moment that means they are just like me. (Two choleric/lion/headstrong/dominant personalities working together do not make a good combination.) Ministry brings certain challenges. One of those challenges is when our personality clashes with another person in the church. If our relationship with Christ is where it should be, we won’t be the one “throwing darts.” But, when someone else hits the bullseye and pierces our spirit, it can be crushing and leave us feeling our ministry is over.
“Why would God create me like this to be a failure?” “Why would He give me these personality traits if they are going to hurt my husband’s ministry?”
Maybe you have asked yourself these questions. Recently, after a soul-crushing conversation, I found myself asking them again and again. I also wondered, “Is this from Satan? Is he trying to destroy what God is doing in our church?” and “Is this from God, to let me know I have issues I need to deal with?” Finding the answers to these questions and others like them only comes through time spent on our knees. Asking the Holy Spirit to give us discernment in any situation is vital, especially when truth is on the line.
I don’t know where you are when it comes to accepting yourself the way God made you, but I have never been satisfied with the way I am. (Hence, my second highest scoring personality trait, melancholy.) I have taken and studied many different personality tests. They all have the same
problem. They all reveal the same thing—my true self. You see, every personality includes strengths and weaknesses. Most of us like to focus on our strengths. We may be organized or a natural leader. We may be a peacemaker, the one who can get everyone excited about an event, or the one who can be trusted with details and follow through without supervision. And yet, sometimes the weakest parts of our personality shine brighter than the strengths. When they do, they don’t necessarily bring light or strength. When we become aware of the weaknesses associated with our personality type, or even worse, when someone else points them out to us, it can be overwhelming.
When that happens, what do we do? We have two options. We can become broken, bitter, and resentful. We can be angry with the one(s) who pointed out the weaknesses or failures. We may even yell at God, griping about the way He created us. (I confess…guilty as charged.) We can shake off the negative comments or even the comments spoken to wake us up, and determine to remain the same way we’ve always been. Or, the second option: we can go to God in prayer, seeking truth. We can ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what—if anything—needs to change, and then make the changes. I know from experience the first one is easier. Shaking our fists at God or placing blame on others is always the easiest solution. But is it right? Is it what God wants for us?
Believe me, being molded is painful! But being moldable is essential to growth. When a potter takes a lump of clay, if the clay has dried out and become hard, it cannot be shaped. I’m no potter, but I have worked with Play-Doh™ enough to know it is nearly impossible to work with it after it’s been left on the table to dry. Try forming that crumbled-up mess into something; it’s a waste of time and energy. I can’t help but wonder if that’s how God feels when we become hardened in our weaknesses rather than letting Him turn those weaknesses into strengths.
God created us as His workmanship, a masterpiece or poem, something usable for good and His glory (Ephesians 2:10). God knew what He was doing from the beginning. He decided how we would be shaped, and He intended our unique personalities to show others His likeness (Romans 8:29). So, if your life isn’t displaying the true heart of God for the world to see (or at least your part of the world), what needs to be done?
I think we choose option two: go to the Creator. Ask Him to reveal what—if anything—needs to be different. Are you losing your temper with coworkers? Are you constantly late and causing others to wait? Are you demanding your way and refusing to listen to others? Are you procrastinating and not getting the job done? Are you so set in your ways you’re no longer flexible with anyone or anything? Seek the truth. Go beyond what others have said and your own feelings. (Remember, we can be harder on ourselves than God desires; don’t be your own worst enemy.) Find Scriptures to aid you along this journey to spiritual health. Commit those passages to memory or post them on your wall.
Have the fiery darts of criticism left you deeply wounded? Give what others say about you to the Lord and let Him deal with their hearts. If you are really broken by their words, understand healing may take time. Forgive them. Ask God to help you love them. Be moldable, flexible, and pursue Christlikeness. Take the proper steps to be the best version of yourself with God’s help.
God didn’t create us to fail, nor to barely survive; He created us to thrive! He looked at you and me when we were in our mother’s womb and handpicked a personality, emotions, abilities, and passions especially for us. Our task is to use those gifts to make this world a better place and point others to Christ.
In recent days, a painful dart found its way deep into my soul. It felt like a body blow, an 18-wheeler plowing through my heart, as words from a friend caused me great pain. I have done a lot of soul-searching and truth-seeking. I have wept, crying out to God to show me what I need to do and be. This is what it takes, friends. The process can be raw and ugly—downright heart-wrenching—but I know the pain will be worth it. I don’t know about you, but I want to be the best version of me I can possibly be!
About the Writer: Becky (Fry) Gwartney loves being a pastor’s wife (married to Curt, Pastor of Fellowship FWB Church, Park Hills, Missouri). She is a homemaker, researcher, writer, and mother of two adult children—son Darin, a physician in Pryor, Oklahoma; and daughter Casey, a youth pastor’s wife in Nashville, Tennessee. Grammy to six “perfect” grandsons, Becky loves to write, decorate, organize, bake, teach, lead Bible studies, sing, play games, and spend time with her husband.