When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. But he went only as far as the king’s gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it. In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes. Esther 4:1-3
The other day I heard James McDonald preaching on a variety of personality types that make up his pastoral staff. When he spoke about the Sanguine personality, I could see myself in what he said. Sanguines are expressive and hopeful. Anyone who knows me would say that’s a good fit for this writer girl. He also talked about Melancholies, and again, I saw myself in the things he said. Melancholies are artists and moved by their emotions. That is so me.
I’m moved by my emotions way more than I would like to admit, and it only seems to increase in intensity the longer I live. I wonder if that is because my subconscious knows my days are numbered and wants to break out and express itself as much as possible before the last sun rises over my life? I’m not sure about that, but I’m guessing something internal knows I yearn to express myself to the world, and that is why I’m so melancholy much of the time.
When I read the first three verses of Esther’s story in the Bible this morning, it hit me again–that sense that I’m not alone in being a Sanguine with some Melancholy on the side. In those verses, there is a lot of wailing and mourning, before weeping and more wailing. There is a lot of expression packed into those few verses, and a lot of emotion, stirred up by suffering.
Were I in the shoes of the Jews at this time in history, I would have been wearing a big ole sack cloth, too. I would have been throwing my fair share of dirt in the air, and I would have looked pretty pitiful. What amazes me about this display of emotion that the Jews are expressing vividly in the 4th chapter of Esther, though, is that it pretty definitively marks them.
But wait, don’t tears falling on my cheek on Sunday when the message is hitting home with me mark me, too?
Aren’t people perceiving me differently, and maybe with a lil bit of contempt, as I show my emotions in expressive ways?
Are the Phlegmatics in the room disgusted with my flagrant divulging of inner emotion? Would they show it, if they were?? 😉
I bet there are some who see this display I try to hide but can’t as attention-seeking weakness on my part and they turn their heads. They might think less of me, or even gossip about my lack of control with others because of these expressions. Doesn’t all this mark me and make me a bigger target for the enemy? Doesn’t it point to me as someone deserving derision by well-behaved and controlled individuals in our society?
Aren’t I sticking out like a red thumb when I act in emotional ways?
Here’s the thing, folks: I can no more stop the water works once they get going, than I could stop a freight train headed my way while standing on the tracks with my shoe lace stuck between rails.
Well, that’s not really true!
I could hide my emotions. I could leave the room when I get chocked-up. I could make sure I’m never, ever put in a position to get teary-eyed in a crowd ever again, but that would be living a lie. No, I will not do it!
Neither would the Jews.
I’m in good company when I respond to God with emotion. It may not be pleasant for me or those around me to let the tears fall when I’m feeling particularly blessed, and it might be uncomfortable for them when I let my hands go up when I’m being moved by the Spirit of God. It might be unpleasant when I mourn a loss in public, or my voice breaks while speaking at an event, but that’s the way it is. I am me, and I try really, really, really hard when I’m with God to be authentic. Not for His sake. Goodness, no. He already knows my heart condition. I do it because joy and happiness, sorrow and loss, they are all real emotions deserving of truest expressions by me.
I am Lori; a crazy, mixed-up, emotional mess at times.
“Many lay in sackcloth and ashes,” too despondent to do anything else when times get tough. They feel deeply. These, too, are people of God, marking themselves for slaughter. I want to be more like them, not less.
Whatever the cost may be, I never, ever, forever-and-ever-amen want to be anything other than what God made me to be—a Sanguine, with a lil bit of melancholy of the side. How ‘bout you?
What personality type are you? Which one do you wish you could be?