Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

8.06.2010

The Stubborn Streak

Are you a woman of conviction?
Are you a woman of fire and passion?
Are you a woman who knows what she believes?
We’re on the same page so far. Now the hard question: are you also a woman who can sometimes be stubborn?
Sigh. Me too.

Sturdy conviction is an admirable, hard-won trait, and the woman who bears this carries herself with boldness, courage, and wisdom. She will never back down on the truth and never compromise.

And sturdy conviction was definitely my strong suit when, at age 4 or 5, I bore the firm belief that sauteed mushrooms were the worst food on the planet. (I still do, in fact!) I turned up my nose at them every time they were served and painstakingly separated them from the rest of my food. One evening, mushrooms graced our stir-fry, and as I began to scoot them to the side of my plate, Papa informed me that I would be eating them that night. I continued to separate out the mushrooms and ate everything else on my plate except for the slimy bits of fungi. Everyone else left the table, and I remained, calmly stoic in my decision to not eat the mushrooms, and quite firm in my resolve. Around me the evening preparations continued: the kitchen was cleaned, stories were read, Mikaela and Melanie went to bed, and still I sat. Pretty soon, even Mama and Papa were in bed, the house was dark, and I still sat staring at my cold, slimy mushrooms. Papa wandered out in his pajamas every once in a while, shaking his head at his willful child. Finally, my tastebuds dulled with sleepiness, I eyed the mushrooms with a new determination, speared them with the fork, swallowed them whole, and went to bed.

To my little mind, I was suffering through an unjustice—I was in fact being heroic!
Or being a stubborn brat. 

In reality though, the line beween heroicism and stubbornnes is often hard to find.  Where is the separation between bold determination and simple pig-headedness? How do you balance being wise as serpents with being harmless as doves (Mt. 10:16)? How do you sally forth in our pagan world with nary a doubt yet carry close to your heart a teachable spirit, open to the possibility of learning something? Are you being a passionate truth-speaker, or simply argumentative and arrogant?

One man was defending the name of Christ as he was being detained without cause and questioned. He was boldly striking down lies with truth, but he wasn’t the only one striking, for the high priest ordered him struck in the mouth. His mouth still smarting, “Paul said to him, ‘God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?’ And those who stood by said, ‘Do you revile God's high priest?’ Then Paul said, ‘I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, “You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.”’ (Acts 23:3-5)

I don’t know about you, but many a time I have been deep in a discussion, passionate about carrying my point, only to suddenly realize that I was dead wrong. But when I find myself wrong, my first inclination is still to squint up my eyes and swallow the slimy nastiness whole—get through it as quickly as possible. But apologize for stubbornness? Do I look like super-woman?

Ezekiel 2:4 says, “For they are impudent and stubborn children. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD.’”

We all need a good dose of "Thus says" more than every once in a while.  You see, there is a line between stubbornness and holy boldness, and that line is humility. When we have that “deep sense of [our] own unworthiness in the sight of God” (Websters 1828 Dictionary) our first impulse will not be to accuse, in the name of Christ, those who strike us. When we have humility and are in proper awe of the Lord’s omnipotent presence and saving grace, we can share our convictions on abortion without getting into a boxing match. We can state our firm belief that you just took the wrong turn and then leave it at that—able to restrain ourselves from grabbing the wheel and turning the car around.

Isaiah 50:7-8,10 says, "For the Lord GOD will help Me; Therefore I will not be disgraced; Therefore I have set My face like a flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed. He is near who justifies Me; Who will contend with Me? Let us stand together. Who is My adversary? Let him come near Me….Who among you fears the LORD? Who obeys the voice of His Servant? Who walks in darkness And has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD And rely upon his God.”

You can be arguing for the right side and still be stubborn, but you cannot have holy boldness and argue for the wrong side, for that comes only from the Holy Spirit. Therein lies our advantage as Christians—not in our jutted out chin, crossed arms, and tricky arguments. Have passion, determination, grit, and tenacity, but every night kneel before and say with heartfelt humility, “Lord, show me Your way, for I don't want to be following my own way!”

As for me, I’m still passionate about my loathing for sauteed mushrooms (fresh are fine), but I’m trying to practice what I preach and exercise a teachable spirit—every other time mushrooms are presented at the table, I eat one.

Picture Credit

11 comments:

  1. Ouch. Yeah, I have a reputation for being stubborn... I HATE admitting I'm wrong! And I hate not being the best at something either. Little pride issue, ya think?

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  2. Hey Lauren, I really liked this post and I can identify with it. Stubbornness is a trait many of us share, and one that is difficult to overcome. I guess everybody is right in their own eyes, it takes the Spirit to show us just how misguided we are. At any rate, I think sauteed mushrooms are delicious...:)

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  3. I agree! About the mushrooms, I mean. They're awful!!

    And I agree on the other thing too. There is a fine line between stubbornness and passion. And sometimes it's hard to figure out which is which. Great ideas to think on.

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  4. BK--I suffer from the same pride issue. I know it grieves the heart of God, so humility is always something I'm working on!
    Alessandra--Thanks! You are so right that everyone is right in their own eyes! I'm glad we can all work on stubbornness together, but I'm not sure about you anymore since you revealed your love for sauteed mushrooms! (-;
    Jonathan--Yes! A comrade in mushroom-hating! I'm glad you're also a comrade in this battle for humble and holy boldness!

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  5. Lauren,
    Thank you so much for this post. Yes, I can definitely be a stubborn person (though I sometimes say I refuse to be called stubborn ;), and find myself being too critical and argumentative. I like the fact that God does indeed want us to be bold and fearless in carrying the banner of truth, but not to trample others as we carry it. This gives me much to think on.
    God bless you for sharing!
    P.S. And, since you mentioned it, I do miss mushrooms here in Uganda. :(

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  6. Ruthie--I love how you reiterated the point of my article: "God does indeed want us to be bold and fearless in carrying the banner of truth, but not to rample others as we carry it." Beautiful! Another mushroom lover? Oh dear. A least it sounds like I have the country of Uganda on my side!(-;

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  7. Oh, soooo good! Thank you very much! Love it!

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  8. Lauren, thanks for this post. I, too, am stubborn. I have seen what stubbornness can do to relationships, though. My parents are both extremely stubborn, and they have recently separated because of it. Stubbornness can be a great tool or a dangerous one--causing steadfast passion and conviction or unforgiveness and a bitter heart.

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  9. Hey I just gave your blog an award on my blog. http://teanink.blogspot.com/2010/08/my-dear-friend-gave-me-this-award-on.html

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  10. Hmm, good point, there is definitely a difference between tenacity and stubbornness.

    http://strollinginthewind.blogspot.com

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  11. This is just a great post! And made me think of myself...
    One can fight and be stubborn for the RIGHT things - true true!!!
    Great post!
    Made me laugh too, how can you not like mushrooms :)~ oo they are my favourite mmmmmmmmm

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