This weekend, in an attempt to find some *real* coffee during our stay in rural Georgia, we happened upon the Nora Mills Granary and Country Store. Inside we found, as expected, lots of flours, cornmeal, and grain mixes. But as we turned the corner, we saw this:
I immediately seized the opportunity to turn this into a teachable moment for my engineering-minded 9-year-old and, of course, validate our “educational” reason for missing three days of school (you can’t just take a “family” trip anymore :/).
As the sign says, “We are grinding corn on the original French Burr Stones installed in 1876, powered by the Chattahoochee River.” The really cool thing is that not only were we able to see the stones spinning and the corn being ground, but we were also able to walk out back and see where the water from the river was being used to move the gears that made those stones turn.
We learned from one of the store employees that before the Industrial Revolution, mills like this one were built on the banks of rivers in this area in order to take advantage of the natural power the moving water provided. The constant flow of water, when correctly channeled, has the power to rotate those 1,500lb stones approximately 100 times per minute!
As human beings we have the power to be productive. Not only are we physically able to make things happen, but we are also mentally and emotionally able to make decisions, manage relationships, and accomplish goals.
Most of us, though, at some point in our lives question the effectiveness of our individual personality in those areas. Sometimes it just seems we could be so much more productive if we were like that guy or get better results if we were like that girl.
About two years ago, after noticing a regular pattern of spiraling emotional meltdowns in my life, I decided to start seeing a counselor. I had begun to dread the most important aspect of my work – youth group – as well as all other social events. As a person highly involved in ministry – at a church – with people – this was not good!
But the diagnosis was quick and the source of the meltdowns pinpointed right away: I was officially an introvert.
I had known about this diagnosis since my college years – that being around people drains my energy and alone time recharges it. I had always held on to the hope, though, that I was going to be “cured” – that as time passed and I gained more experience and stepped out of my comfort zone as much as possible, God would fix me. Surely He would make me more outgoing, talkative, and socially comfortable so I could be more effective in ministry!
But six months of appointments (and a hefty chunk of change) later, I finally came to the realization that this part of my personality was never going to change – it’s just who I am. I’m always going to be anxious about social events, always going to feel uncomfortable talking to people I don’t know well, and always going to spend an unreasonable amount of time thinking about what I’m going to say – and then not actually saying it. And there’s a good chance that God’s going to work through me anyway.
Last week I came across a verse in Genesis that I had never really paid attention to before:
“Jacob was a quiet man who stayed at home” (Genesis 25:27 ESV)
“Hmmm,” I thought, “I could get along with this guy!”
Jacob was a “quiet” man. Other uses of this adjective in Scripture have to do with a person’s moral character, but most commentators agree that this one is meant to describe Jacob’s even-tempered and contemplative personality in opposition to his more aggressive and impulsive twin brother, Esau.
It’s because of potentially-introverted people like Jacob, more out-going people like Esau, and a long list of others, that we see God do some really cool things – He channels the power of the personalities He placed within them for His purposes. Sometimes He uses people in spite of their temperaments or preferences and sometimes He uses those exact temperaments and preferences to accomplish very specific things in His Kingdom.
As we’ve been driving around for the past few days in Georgia and North Carolina, I’ve been seeing rivers and waterfalls in a whole new way – untapped power!
And when I look around at our churches and our world, I see the same thing – so many people sitting back and thinking that if only they were more like so and so or if they weren’t so shy or so loud then God could be using them, too.
But nothing could be further from the truth! God created you to be exactly who you are and placed you exactly where you are for a very specific purpose. He wants to channel that power – that loud and crazy or soft-spoken and shy or energetic and feisty or calm, cool, and collected power to keep the wheels of His church moving, producing more and more growth and love and redemption every day.
I’m an introvert – I’ve fully come to terms with it, handed it over to God, and asked Him to use me because of it and in spite of it. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been able to narrow down my roles in our family, at church, and at youth events so it’s not all so overwhelming to me. I’ve even started playing dodge ball (very horribly – I’m not joking, I have absolutely zero aim) with some of the guys and a couple girls at high school youth group and it’s great, you know why? We just throw balls at each other and I don’t have to talk to anybody! I love it!
You don’t need to be anybody else – you just need to be YOU. And God doesn’t want you to be anyone else either – that’s why He made you YOU. So embrace it and allow Him to harness the power of that personality – you just never know what He might do through you!