Logic is not motivating.

–Dave Ramsey

Image courtesy of Antonio Jiménez Alonso via stock.xchng

I found so much comfort in that phrase when I read it at the end of 2010. I was in my first months of depression and trying very hard to figure out my balance between logic (that I’d always relied on and trusted most) and the value of emotion.

My trust was a pendulum, an either-or. The two mechanisms were opposed to one another, and I wasn’t sure how they were supposed to integrate…until I read that line.

For the first time I started to connect the division-of-labor process in my marriage to other processes.

In my marriage I have the tremendous blessing of being ignorant. And so does my husband.

We each have things that we’re naturally good at– or at least better at than the other person.

For example, Jay, in his conscientious, detail-oriented personality, is in charge of managing the money. With that same conscientiousness and significantly greater physical strength, he’s primary care on the dailiness of the animals (also: shoveling out the barn after winter was all. him.)

In contrast, I’m in charge of the food. Eating “real” is important to us as our way to eat healthy. We don’t do a lot of “organic” but most of our food is from scratch-scratch. And that’s what I manage. I was forced into it, first by my stint in Weight Watchers where learning and inventing new recipes turned out to be training wheels for later, when I recognized and adapted to food sensitivities.

I never had to learn to efficiently kill and clean a rabbit, Jay never had to learn how to butcher or cook one.

And this works very well for two perfectionist personalities, because we can put our limited time and energy into getting better at fewer things.

As in our marriage, I am learning that it is inefficient and very frustrating (and perhaps chauvinist) when we expect one “better” party to be able to do it all, no matter what it is. Instead, I let the bickering siblings specialize in different, but ultimately useful, areas.

Logic isn’t (usually) motivating, but emotion most-definitely is. Emotion is powerful, but (usually) needs trajectory.

Anger, delight, surprise, joy, fear, all these are fuel cells adding a jolt (or rocket boosters) to a course of action (ideally) mapped out by that highly valued logic.

The third spectrum of the Myers-Briggs personality theory sets Thinking on one end and Feeling on the other, and some people treat that as if you can think without feeling, or feel without thinking. Neither of these extremes are a healthy way to approach life.

We each have a bit of “type patriotism,” an attraction or affinity to the pole we sit closest to, that makes us quicker to pull that tool out and assume it’s applicable, but we will be our most effective when we consider more than one tool for the job in front of us.

Image courtesy of Enrico Nunziati via stock.xchng

This choosing takes practice and discipline, but I believe it is part of growing up; part of maturity is being able to hesitate long enough to confirm you’ve got the right tool for the job.

Specialization has always made me uneasy, because it creates a dependency.

When you can’t count on someone being there to fill in your gaps, every weakness is a liability.

I used to modulate excitement at any victory by quoting a line from Lord of the Rings. Gandalf was curbing the excitement over the victory at Helm’s Deep, reminding them they had won only a battle, not the war.

“And this with help we cannot rely on again.”

(Or something like that. My book’s out of reach just now.)

The point is that I was always in flux. Insecurity. Grateful, yes, for every success, but still as anxious about tomorrow as I was yesterday.

Until God gave me the image of manna: the way he fed the Children of Israel in the wilderness. It was a miracle, but a guaranteed miracle.

I have a good head.

I have a strong heart.

They have different jobs, but they are designed to work together.

And just like I can trust my husband, and completely remove some life-essentials from my learning-pile, I can trust that the logic/emotion dichotomy doesn’t need to be one.

When they own their niche(s), there’s less squabbling and more effective living.

3 thoughts on “Specializing

  1. My husband have a good partnership too. We are so different and yet alike in many respects. We both have to work at keeping that partnership running smoothly. God helps us and has blessed us.

    Hope you have a great summer–chrisd from NaNo

  2. Thanks, Chris.

    Still planning on NaNo this year? I’ve already had a cycle of finding and doubting my story so I’m on my way ;)

  3. I think specializing takes faith—that there will be other people who are suited to take care of the things I’m choosing to let go of. The Church is supposed to work this way. “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.” Faith in the Church working this way allows each of us to develop our own skills fully without trying to do everything.

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