I always wanted to be Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. I loved her songs, her "little dog," her bright red shoes...but for years I seemed to identify with the Tin Man. Not so much because I was needing some oil in my joints, but because I was possibly missing a heart.
Being task-oriented and generally driven to perform and compete, I often missed the point of being in the world with others. Self-awareness tends to creep up on us sometime after high school, and we realize that we might not be the center of the universe. Self-awareness was not so gentle with me, however. I found myself at college having to face my selfish nature and smart, tart remarks...seeing them in the eyes of others and God in a mirror that reflected back something altogether disheartening.
Once I worked through a lot of awkward and confusing situations, I began to realize that I was wired quite differently from a lot of girls I knew. I am just not that sensitive to how others are treating me. I have a (somewhat masculine?) ability to compartmentalize my emotions. I don't wear my heart out on my sleeve. It's not that I'm unfeeling or lack empathy, I just don't show it the way a lot of people do. If someone's trying to give me the cold shoulder, I don't really take it personally.
It became kind of a joke among my college roommates..."Shelley's the insensitive one." Once they all realized that I was wired "funny," it made life a lot easier for all of us.
Thankfully, all of this self-awareness has come full circle. I marvel at what the Lord can do with with an argumentative, proud, and bottom-line personality. I believed for a while that I had no capacity to love deeply or to feel deeply, but it's not true. With Jesus' help, I am able to feel immense compassion and empathy toward others. I realize that I am a fixer, but that sometimes I need to listen. Full-time ministry and marriage both have a way of knocking off your hard edges and leaving something softer behind.
I feel it creeping back in sometimes, that black-and-white selfish hard edge. But I have learned that most opinions are best left unsaid unless you are coming to the defense of the defenseless. Tasks are never more important than people. The only way to show God's love...and to be His hands and feet...is to slow down a minute and take stock of what is really important in light of eternity. Competitiveness, sarcasm, pride, condescension, and performance are not Fruits of the Spirit. I want to be fruitful, not prickly. He's making me that way.