The Other Side of Our Strengths
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Sensitive people respond in much larger ways than those who are insensitive. Passionate people respond in much larger ways than those who are not passionate. The insensitive person hates the idea of someone breaking in and stealing their stuff. The sensitive person can't bear the idea of having to deal with such a violation; the loss of stuff is secondary to that violation. One locks their doors if they remember, the other, because the thought of it is unbearable, repeatedly makes sure their doors are locked. Likewise, the unpassionate person tries to accomplish a task, the passionate person isn't satisfied until the task is done just right. The person who is more sensitive or more passionate invokes an equally greater response to their concerns. The more tender the area the more protective of that area we are.

Is it bad to be sensitive, absolutely not, is it bad to be passionate, nope. Children are sensitive and often passionate and Jesus tells us we are to be like them (Matt. 18:3). He also warns about the opposite, of becoming dull of heart (Isaiah 6:10, Matt. 13:15, Acts 28:27, Romans 2:5). What I am getting at is, since we don't know the full implications and origins of OCD, it's possible that those diagnosed with what the world calls a disorder may actually be blessed with what God see's as a gift, though at times we exorcise it in error? Don't get me wrong, OCD behavior itself may be working against us, but some character traits that have led to negative obsessive compulsive behavior may actually reflect positive, good traits such as sensitivity, zeal, and diligence. A sensitive heart and an analytical mind is good but combined with a reliance on one's own understanding is bad.


For example, I work in the tech industry. I am self taught and good at what I do. Me and my wife started our own business from the ground up in 2009 and it's been quite successful. I don't mean that to be haughty or boastful, in all variables it has been by God's provision and in recognition of James 1:17 all good gifts come from God. But I am what I would call an obsessive variable thinker (OVT, deductive reasoning on steroids); both a strength and potential weakness. I would define an obsessive variable thinker as someone who constantly considers all the variables of every situation at every moment. It's a strength in the tech industry because, unlike many of my contemporaries, my brain encompasses more variables than that commonplace to others and in terms of troubleshooting what's wrong with a computer, network, security system, programming, etc. I can usually catch things that others missed and it's hardly the other way around. Please note, I am not saying this to boast but rather to provide a connection for those who see similar traits in themselves. This "variable thinking" extends well beyond the tech world however and has proven itself as a strength in many areas of my life. In my five years working in law enforcement I excelled in playing detective. I would consider possibilities that many others wouldn't including some of our dear veterans, and in a world where the bad guys are thinking as hard as they can to not get caught, I would often out think those bad guys and play a part in their capture (which I found rewarding). To mention a few other traits where "variable thinking" has proven a strength I'm rarely ever caught off guard and hardly ever surprised (though I love surprises, 1 Cor. 2:9 excites me greatly!). As a 9th grader my teacher each day would post brain teasers or trick questions on the board and I was usually the first to figure them out. Sometimes I would figure them out but keep silent as it made me feel like a jerk. I even remember once keeping silent and my teacher saying to me "haha I finally stumped you" which of course kicked my ego in where I replied, be it a bit smug, with the answer. I'm also the one in the family that people claim can always find the "perfect gift" for others, even those I hardly know. In like fashion I am able to know a lot about a person, who they are, what they are thinking, what they are planning, etc. by very little information through this variable thinking or the power of deduction, thus removing variables and narrowing down the possibilities in each of these cases until I have only those that are most probable or definite left. Because of this, those that are close to me have even shouted "get out of my head" as I know what they are going to say even in circumstances where it seems like I shouldn't. A talent that is continually being refined as I age. This talent combined with the gifts of exhortation and discernment has given me the ability to not only know what's going on in a person's life with little information but has gifted me with the ability to speak life into that person, the ability to both hold accountable (often by the variables it's easy to identify when someone's not being forthright) and make eternal investments into that person; gifts I cherish and am happy to exercise!


Now for the weakness... you know what my wife can do that I hadn't been able to do. She can will to not think of something. Why? Because she doesn't rely on her own understanding (Prov. 3:5-6). I do. Not only am I an OVT (which often is a strength) I'm also one who tends to rely on my own understanding. Being self-reliant I couldn't will to not think of something even though I wanted too (oh how at times I wanted to, in tears I wanted to). Not only could I not do that, I couldn't even relate to her what that's like as I've been an self-reliant OVT as far back as I can remember. On the contrary, if something is big enough to warrant me trying to will to not think about it than I am compelled to think about it even more (Rom. 7:7-8). This in itself is not the weakness, I don't mind thinking about anything at this stage. The weakness is this; what happens to an obsessive variable thinker who relies on their own understanding when he has variables that are difficult to consider that he cannot eliminate? He gets caught in a loop. The weakness enters when an OVT relies on their own understanding. It's no wonder Christian OVT's like myself struggle with weighty matters such as doubting if we are actually saved or if we're one of the "chosen" or question if God is real and actually loves us. Wondering if we committed the unpardonable sin or, if it were somehow possible, out sinned the grace of God. As we've discussed earlier and in previous chapters, we do not have total knowledge and until we see God face to face it will remain this way (1 Cor. 13:12). Because we do not have total knowledge there are some variables that we find difficult to make since of and because of our desire for certainty according to our knowledge (instead of God's Word) before moving on (as is normal for an OVT) we get hung up on them. We have no way to extinguish every possible troublesome variable and because we rely on our own understanding we are unable to move on until we do. One may say we are stuck between a rock and a hard place but considering the variables that often feels like an understatement. A hard place at least offers possibilities and if you, like me, are an OVT you feel seemingly stuck between a rock and a rock. The more important the matter the more we cannot dismiss it until we are certain and have ruled out all variables. When it comes to matters with God there can be no more important matter that excels well beyond our understanding (Rom. 11:33, 1 Cor. 13:12) and so to you and I it's no surprise that it is these things we are hung up on the most. Do you have a hard time making big purchases? Perhaps a car, house, land, etc.? I ask this because these are purchases where it can be difficult to know all the variables and if you're like me, you don't want to make such a commitment until you do (you may have guessed by now I have commitment issues). I mean, when you're purchasing a used car can you really be certain it's in full working order and not on the verge of failure? A normal person may check the Carfax and be satisfied but if you're a self-reliant OVT like myself, that's not enough. You want to take all the hoses off and look inside them for cracks and to smell the remnant of fluid running through them to make sure it smells like it should. Then when you realize you can't rule out all the possible bad variables (after all, you don't know how the previous owner drove it or maintained it and therefore you can't with excessive certainty know it's a safe buy) and you're unable to give your heart the "all clear" you take the safe route and not buy the car at all. (I started buying new cars only and as I would declare "this way I know all wear and tear on it was only from me"). Along this same lines I hate it when people ask me my favorite anything. Don't they know their whimsical question is asking me to consider all possible variables and then develop an all inclusive measuring system that I can then, through exhaustive efforts, eliminate each option one by one until I can commit an accurate answer I'm willing to definitely stand behind?


Security is another tough one. The world is a wicked place and the variables of this world that could mean us harm are unending. Variables we can't control. People who mean us harm, circumstances that could mean us harm (fire, earthquake, car accident), health problems fall in this category. Having worked in law enforcement and then handling alarms and security systems in the I.T. realm I meet people like me. For whatever reason (a violation of security perhaps) has made OVT's like myself who rely on their own understanding get caught in a loop, forever trying to secure themselves (and those they care for) by ruling out bad possible variables and never actually being able to do that (though we don't cease trying do we?). If we're that bad about worldly security it's no wonder we struggle with eternal security. For eternal security is more important and even less in our control (Matt. 19:25-26). While to some degree (though little) we have control over our worldly security (drive a safer car, etc.) our eternal security we have even less control over and no obvious, visible, verifiable way to confirm we have it thereby in our flesh extinguishing all the variables, or in this case, the fiery darts of the evil one (Eph. 6:16). God is actually in control of our eternal security (Matt. 19:25-26, Rom. 9:15) and for some reason we can't get Him to answer our inquiries for Him to give us the "all clears" we are looking for (as if He he were somehow obligated too). God having to answer to us should seem ridiculous to us but we still try don't we? You know what answer I've gotten back. It's the only one I've ever gotten back but because it doesn't allow me to rule out bad variables by my own understanding I don't always accept it, nevertheless it's always true. That answer is this. “My grace is sufficient for you...” (2 Cor. 12:9). I have read this but I've also felt it pressed on my heart and I thank God for that. If God had answered and given me my "all clear" fix I so desperately sought He essentially may have become my drug dealer. Thank God His wisdom transcends mine! It doesn't solve my walking by sight problem (when we should be walking by faith, 2 Cor. 5:7) but it does let me know that God is bigger than my walking by sight problem and His grace even covers that (1 John 3:20, Matt. 14:31). From our point of view we look down at the ravine we've fallen into and we feel isolated, abandoned, and alone. From God's point of view that same ravine is simply a groove, a wrinkle in the palm of His hand. He's got you. His grace is sufficient! By sight, like Peter (Matt. 14:30), from our point of view we are frightened, but God by His point of view, as with Peter (Matt. 14:31) knows He's got you and no created thing (including yourself) will ever snatch you from His hand (Rom. 8:39, John 10:29, 2 Tim. 2:13). And He will bring you home (Phil. 1:6). I thank God that in His grace He would grant you and I to suffer when we rely on our own understanding as that's an unhealthy place to be. Similarly I thank God for the truth of the law that points out our shortcomings so we won't seek to be justified by it no longer but by God's grace where actual justification is found. If you're reading this than it's likely you share in these struggles. If you share in my struggles than you likely welcome the idea that God would grant you such a struggle that would usher you to no longer rely on your own understanding but to truly come to rely on Him that gives "the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension" (Phil. 4:7).


Side note 1: The enemy and OVT. (See also Ch: 4, Spiritual Warfare)

Like any good war strategy, you attack anywhere there's a weakness in the opposition. Consider Satan's attack on both Adam and Even and on Jesus Himself. He started off with Adam and Eve in Gen. 3:1 by saying "indeed, has God said..." and again in Matt. 4:3 to Jesus he started in like fashion when he said "If You are the Son of God...". This apparently was an attack he knew to work well in times past as he tried again in Matt. 4:6. In both cases the devil tempted them to reconsider variables and thereby luring them into walk by sight and not by faith. Eve decided to walk by sight "When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes..." (Gen 3:6). Jesus however did not stumble nor even for a second brought into focus what Satan was trying to get Him to look at. If this is the opening attack in each of these scenarios then we shouldn't be surprised that it be used on us too (1 Pet. 4:12, Eph. 6:16).


Side note 2: Damaged emotions and OVT. (See also Ch: 4, Damaged Emotions)

Considering self-reliant OVT what happens when our foundations are shaken or even crumble. It's no wonder the enemy attacks fundamental emotional development in children by producing counterfeit's to Jesus such as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny and at older ages false religions and false doctrine. If these rudimentary trust emotions can be damaged it will produce uncertainty throughout the individual's life. At older ages, perhaps because of an inaccurate view of God we trusted Him for something we felt He should do or have done and He didn't. We then begin questioning the foundation of all our beliefs. As an OVT we then add the variable of "how can I be sure" to the list of others and we begin to question and doubt everything we may have once been certain of. I've found myself doubting things that the majority of others accept without question, obvious things that were even ridiculous to me yet I would still doubt them. In terms of my relationship with God it got to the point that I felt if Jesus appeared right in front of me through many miracles only He could do I would still doubt Him. The apostles actually struggled with this too. In Luke 24:36-41 Shortly after his crucifixion Jesus appeared to the Apostles which having witnessed Him being crucified in and of itself is amazing, but He proceeded to show them the piercing in His hands and His feet but they still wouldn't believe? Why? Because they were afraid too. Keep in mind they believed Jesus would remain with them on earth (Matt. 16:22, John 6:15) so their inaccurate view and what they trusted God to do (keep in mind it was them in error) was crushed when Jesus was crucified. Now He's back! And that excites them but they are reserved, afraid to believe. Likely because of fear of being crushed again. Notice verse 40 and 41a which states "And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement..." (emphasis mine). If you read on, you will see, God's faithfulness to them was unwavering at this. Likewise His faithfulness is unwavering to you (2 Tim. 2:13).


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