Could Unselfishness Be The First Step To Overcoming Shyness?

Once again, I failed to introduce myself to someone. I’m 27 years old — by now I should have mastered the incredibly complicated art of walking up to someone visiting my own church group and simply saying, “Hi, I’m Marissa. Welcome. What’s your name?”

It would probably come out more as a squeaky “Hi” followed by awkward silence as I frantically tried to come up with words resembling normal small talk.

*sigh* So much for INFJs being “the most extroverted introvert.” Perhaps some INFJs are, but I’m not. I’m shy. I thought it was getting better, but apparently I still need more work battling my social anxiety.

click to read article, "Could Unselfishness Be The First Step To Overcoming Shyness?" | marissabaker.wordpress.com

photo credit: “Viene and friends” by Barry Pousman, CC BY via Flickr

Introversion is healthy for introverts. Shyness … not so much

Despite Google’s antiquated definition of introvert as “a shy, reticent person,” shyness and introversion are far from the same thing. “Shyness is the fear of negative judgment, and introversion is a preference for quiet, minimally stimulating environments” (quote from “Are You Shy, Introverted, Both, or Neither (and Why Does It Matter)?” by Susan Cain). Shyness produces anxiety in social situations, while introversion means you lose energy when around other people. The traits often go together, but extroverts can also be shy.

Introverts who aren’t shy still prefer the inner world of thoughts and ideas to the outer world of people and things, but they’re capable of socializing and even enjoy it. Extroverts who are shy want to spend their time in the outer world, but they’re scared of people.

One of the most genuinely friendly extroverted women I know was once shy. For her, the turning point from shy to social was when she realized her fear of talking was rooted in self-focus. It was about “I’m scared to talk with people,” or “Socializing makes me nervous,” or “What if they don’t like me?” Continue reading

Walking In The Spirit: God’s Character In Us

One of the biggest problems in modern Christianity is an extreme either-or mentality. We lack balance, straying from one ditch to the other. Consider the Christian’s relationship with the Law. Some will say we must keep the whole law slavishly and seek part of our salvation in it (legalism), while others reject it entirely and say God doesn’t care if we keep His commands as long as we have Jesus (license). Both views miss the point.

Most arguments that the Law isn’t relevant today start with Paul. But Paul’s letters contain things “hard to understand” which people who aren’t well-grounded in the entirety of scripture can “twist to their own destruction” (2 Pet. 3:15-16). When we’re going to study a complex subject like this, we have to start somewhere more straight-forward. I can think of nowhere better than words directly from Jesus’ own lips.

Using The Law Rightly

When Jesus came to this earth, He didn’t tell people He was done with the Law. Instead, He said, “I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:17). This word, pleroo (G4137), means to fill to the fullest extent. Or, as Thayer’s says, “to cause God’s will (as made known in the law) to be obeyed as it should be, and God’s promises (given through the prophets) to receive fulfillment.” Continue reading

Become A Book-Swapping Ninja

Do you like books? What about surprise packages arriving on your door full of goodies? Or getting the chance to make someone else’s day?

If any of that sounded good, you’ve got to join us for the Ninja Book Swap. I tried it for the first time this spring and it was fantastic. Not only do you have the opportunity to give and receive books, you get to tell all your friends you’re a ninja. There’s literally no down-side.Become A Book-Swapping Ninja | Ninja Book Autumn Book Swap Blog Tour | marissabaker.wordpress.com

Here’s how it works: you sign-up on the Ninja Book Swap website, say “Hi” on the blog or Bex’s Twitter if you haven’t swapped before (just so she knows you’re real), answer a few questions, and give them a link to you book wish-list. Then, you’re matched with two other people. One will be sending you a package (you don’t know who this is) and the other is who you’ll be sending a package to (they won’t know who you are).

Become A Book-Swapping Ninja | Ninja Book Autumn Book Swap Blog Tour | marissabaker.wordpress.com

Ninja goodies wrapped and ready to send

The rules ask that you send your book swap buddy one book from their list, a gift you think they’ll like based on the questions they answered, and a note telling them who you are and saying “Hi.” You can also send more if you want and dress-up the packaging to make it special (which I highly recommend). Try browsing #ningjabookswap on Twitter for ideas of what people have done in the past.

Become A Book-Swapping Ninja | Ninja Book Autumn Book Swap Blog Tour | marissabaker.wordpress.com

the package I received from my spring book-swap buddy

Registration for the Ninja Book Swap opened on Saturday and will stay open until October 2. I hope you’ll join us! Here are all the links you’ll need for more information:

Save

Save

Save

Perseverance In Spiritual Growth

Hebrews 11 shows that it’s possible to live a life of faith by reminding us of people who’ve done just that. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Rahab, and scores of people there’s no time to name all walked by faith. They compass us about as a great “cloud of witnesses” inspiring us to “run with endurance the race that is set before us” with our eyes fixed on Jesus (Heb. 12:1-2).

I didn’t realize until attending church last Shabbat how well my post that week fit in with the season we find ourselves in now. We’re in the month leading up to God’s fall holy days. Traditionally, as the Rabbi in my Mesisanic group pointed out, this is a season of reflection, self-examination, and teshuva (repentance). We need a determination to pursue godliness if we’re to move forward in our walk with God. Along with that goes a perseverance to use our time on this earth wisely, as the minister in my afternoon church spoke on.

The gift of salvation is freely offered to those who take it. Accepting the gift bring us into a covenant relationship with God. One of the things we’re expected to do as “heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him” (Jam. 2:5) is grow toward spiritual maturity.

Leaving Sin Behind

We’re not meant to stagnate nor to continue in sin after receiving God’s grace. After opening his letter to the Romans with a discussion on the wickedness of man, Paul shifts his focus from those who’ve rejected God to those readers who think they’re right with God but aren’t. Continue reading

How Do You Know When To “Door Slam” Someone?

Have you ever cut someone out of your life because you were 100% done with that relationship? Then you’ve done a door slam. Anyone can door slam someone else, but it’s INFJs who are most “famous” (infamous?) for it in personality type circles. The INFJ Door Slam involves deciding not to invest any more time or emotional energy into another person. It’s also pretty final.

When you’re struggling with a hurtful and/or decaying relationship it’s always hard to know how to handle things. Do I slam the door on them and avoid more hurt? Do I try to address the problem and patch things up? The more self-aware I become, the more I realize that I have the capability to emotionally hurt those close to me and that I don’t want to do that. Sometimes relationships have to end, but perhaps it’s worth taking a little extra time to step back and ask how you can protect yourself while minimizing the damage you do to the other person.

While the door slam can be a healthy defense mechanism (like if you need to get out of a relationship with a narcissistic personality that’s controlling and manipulating you), it can also be a way of avoiding conflict. Much as we hate conflict, it’s sometimes necessary to rebuild a friendship that might actually be valuable if you’d put time and effort into fixing things. But how can you tell the difference between relationships you should fight for and ones you need to let go?

Are You Being Hurt?

That’s the first question. For a type known for their lie-detecting skills, INFJs are surprisingly prone to ending up in relationships with people who are not trustworthy. We can be far too inclined toward initially giving people the benefit of the doubt and then holding on to people who aren’t healthy for us. This might be because we feel that we need to help them, or because we see the person they want to be rather than who they are, or because we don’t feel that we have the energy to get out of the relationship. Continue reading

Determined to Pursue Godliness

Too many of us are lazy Christians. I’m including myself in this, too. We think we’re not doing too bad at following God. We avoid big sins, we pray a couple times a day, carve out 1/2 an hour for Bible study, and go to church. We may even do something particularly virtuous and pat ourselves on the back certain that God’s pleased with us. But perhaps our expectations of ourselves are too low.

When the apostles asked Jesus to increase their faith, He asked them a question. “Which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’?” The implication is that none of them would. Instead, they’d expect the servant to make them dinner and serve them before eating his own supper (Luke 17:5-8)

Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’” (Luke 17:9-10)

Doing the bare minimum of what’s expected doesn’t earn us praise and it doesn’t do much to increase our faith. True faith before God doesn’t rest in simply doing what we’re told. It involves pursuing a higher standard.

In the book Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes, Brandon J. O’Brien and E. Randolph Richards talk about a tendency in Western Christianity “to restrict the Christian life to avoiding vices.” However, “In scripture, the godly life is portrayed as a lifelong work, not a list of don’ts.” It’s not enough to avoid vices. We also have to put on virtues and cultivate right living as a habit instead of seeing virtues as spontaneous acts (p. 182). Continue reading

My Star Trek Story

official Star Trek 50th Anniversary logo

I first encountered Star Trek at a library. They displayed the 25th anniversary VHS set on a shelf under a window, placing it at eye-level for two budding sci-fi fans desperate for something to watch other than Star Wars (which I love, but once you can recite every line of dialogue in A New Hope from memory it’s time to broaden your sci-fi horizons). When all the videos were checked-in, they formed a picture of the most beautiful spaceship we’d ever seen. Star Trek aired 23 years before I was born and yet I was obsessed before seeing a single episode.

star trek VHS My mother’s only experience with Star Trek was seeing Wrath of Khan in theaters, which convinced her it wasn’t child-appropriate. So my sister and I followed the course of action that worked when we wanted to watch Star Wars. We talked to Daddy. He remembered watching Star Trek with his dad, so we got the go-ahead to bring home one of those marvelous videos.

The Motion Picture wasn’t quite what were were expecting. I’m ashamed to say I was a bit disappointed. Who are these people (and why are they so old)? Why isn’t anyone happy, and why’s Spock trying to get rid of his emotions? Where are the space battles? This plot doesn’t make sense! We were undaunted, though, and Daddy sent us on a quest to find TV episodes. We came back with “Where No Man Has Gone Before.”

This was more like it! I instantly fell in love with Spock and my sister with Kirk. We watched several episodes as a family, which was made doubly interesting because my Dad shared his memories of watching The Original Series with his dad. One of those memories involved his dad’s coinage of the word “scrooched.” You can find this in dictionaries with the definition “to crouch or bend,” but the much better definition is “to bring under alien influence.” As in, “That red shirt’s going to get scrooched if he investigates the suspicious sound.”

Star Trek’s 50th birthday is this week on September 8. It’s a great time to be a Trekkie. We got a fantastic feature film (I liked the first two movies set in the Kelvin timeline well enough, but Beyond was the best. It felt like “real Trek,” just as Simon Pegg promised). A new series is coming next year after 11 years without Star Trek on TV and there was a new episode of Star Trek Continues released this past weekend (this fan-made series is fantastic — it’s like getting a season 4 for the Original Series!). My sister and I are watching “Embracing the Winds” together this afternoon, ready to be those two little girls awed by the U.S.S. Enterprise and giddy about the prospect of quality sci-fi once again.

The Honor Of His Name

We talk quite often about how we ought to live our lives as Christians — the things we should and should not do, which laws we must keep, the characteristics of Jesus Christ that should show up in our lives. We also talk about what motivates this way of living. If our hearts aren’t right, the outward stuff doesn’t matter. God cares about why we do what we do as much (or more) as He cares about our actions.

The “why” is connected with how we view God. Are we obeying His rules because we see Him as an intimidating authority figure, or because we respect Him as Creator? Do we follow Jesus because of what we hope to get out of being Christian, or because we love Him and trust that He wants what’s best for us?

Those questions are concerned with how God relates to us. Beyond that is the question of how we view God as Himself. God is the self-existent One who inhabits eternity. We often think of Him in terms of how He relates to humanity, but there’s far more to Him than that. How should we view God simply because He is God?

click to read article, "The Honor Of His Name" | marissabaker.wordpress.com

photo credit: “Prayer #2” by Connor Tarter, CC BY-SA via Flickr

Inherent Glory

In Hebrew, the word translated glory and honor in the verses we’ll cover literally means “to be heavy.” It’s not an abstract or subjective concept. There’s substance behind the honor and glory discussed in the Bible. Kabod (H3519) and the related word kabad (H3513) are used figuratively of an honorable social position backed-up with a “weightiness of character.” This makes the recipient of glory worthy of that honor (TWOT entry 943). Continue reading

Finding Community In Variety

There’s something magical about meeting a person who “gets” you. It’s like your minds work on the same wavelength and you’re instantly talking as if you’re old friends. The two of you think so much alike that there’s no struggle to explain yourself.

This sort of connection often has to do with personality type. Our Myers-Briggs types describe the way our minds work (click here for tips on finding your true Myers-Briggs type). When we meet someone else whose brain processes the word in a similar way, we’re likely to experience a connection with them, especially if we have overlapping interests.

click to read article, "Finding Community In Variety" | marissabaker.wordpress.com

photo credit: “Camp Photo 1” by Matthew Hurst, CC BY-SA via Flickr

In contrast, when we seem to clash with someone for no reason it often has to do with differences in how we process the world. To use a fictional example from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Steve Rogers and Tony Stark don’t just conflict ideologically. Their ISFJ and ENTP types are exact opposites, which means the mental process Steve is most comfortable using is the one Tony finds most stressful (and vice versa).

Many of us seek to surround ourselves with people who think like us. They’re the people we’re most comfortable with, the ones who identify with us, the ones with similar priorities and goals. Often this type of community is based around interests, such as spending time with people in your church, joining a bird watching club, or hanging out with friends at a ballgame. Personality similarities in these groups are typically accidental.

For those with rare personality types, though, it’s hard to find communities of like-minded people. Only about 30% of the population is made up of Intuitive types, and among those INTJ and INFJ are the rarest. How do you find community when only 1-4% of the world’s population thinks like you? Continue reading

Anger Is Not A Sin (at least not all the time)

A couple weeks ago, I read a blog post that stated emotions can’t be sins. They just are, and how we act on them determines whether or not we’re sinning. The example they used was anger. For proof, they cited all the times God is described as angry. Because God is incapable of sin, this demonstrates that anger can’t be inherently sinful.

I knew the verses they were talking about, but just out of curiosity I ran a word search to see how often God is described as angry. 208 verses. That’s out of 268 verses in the KJV containing the word anger in any context. Anger is only used 60 times that it’s not in reference to God, and this isn’t even counting words like fury and wrath.

click to read article, "Anger Is Not A Sin (at least not all the time)" | marissabaker.wordpress.com

photo credit: “Angry” by Rodrigo Suriani, CC BY via Flickr

Wow. That’s far more than I’d expected. The sheer number of verses wasn’t the only interesting thing, though. There’s also a marked difference in how the Bible talks about God’s anger and human anger. God’s anger is always righteous, ours not so much. Continue reading