Essence of Impressions

Essence of Impressions

As I continue to read the book on Abe Lincoln, I’m enamored with the wisdom of paying attention to the essence of impressions and the vital connection with dealing with people and decision-making.

Research produced this definition: “Of the greatest importance, crucial, as in ‘Time is of the essence.’ This idiom, which uses essence in the sense of ‘the most important element of something,’ was first recorded in 1873, although the phrase was already being used in the mid-1600s.”

Related words: expedient, imperative, mandatory, requisite, important, indispensable, needful, obligatory, required, vital, heart, soul, bents, mood, personality, temperament, deep-rooted, passion.  The following quote caught my fancy: You never know when you are going to stumble upon a jewel in the most out-of-the-way corner. (Music-study in Germany -Amy Fay)

Reflecting on deep-rooted impressions transported me to an outstanding memory in 1967 at my desk in the Dean of Students’ office. Jim had graduated from seminary and we had accepted the call to pastor a struggling mission in Pennsylvania. I was finishing up my secretarial work when ‘out of the blue’, I experienced an emphatic impression accompanied by almost audible words screaming in my head ‘I want you to write’. I remember looking up toward the ceiling and arguing “I can’t write. I don’t like to write and I’ve never had a class on writing.”  I still recall clearly, sitting in a Moody professor’s office who coached, “Ruth, you have great ideas but you don’t know how to write”. Since then, I had merely dabbled in writing brief letters-to-the-editor of a Baptist paper when I strongly disagreed with an article. I counseled friends in high school and church, but writing was never my forte. I was focused primarily on fulfilling an undeniable spiritual calling when I was 16 to encourage people.

I shrugged off the writing impression and continued sorting through the huge stack of mail when my eye fell on a fairly large advertisement on the back of one of the Dean’s magazines--‘Famous Writers Correspondence Course, Three Years for $300’. “Now where did that come from? What’s going on? Is that meant for me?  I guess that was a perfect time to chuckle and borrow Jim’s “Well, how ‘bout that!” line. Immediately, I reiterated the adequate reasons not to consider it. We were moving to a new ministry 1700 miles away with four little kids to parent; I would be too busy to take a course, nowhere was there an extra $300, plus I didn’t even want to study writing. That evening I talked to Jim about my experience hoping and expecting practical-him to say ‘You’ll be too busy’ or we can’t afford it”, but instead he said “Go for it! I’m sure there will be plenty of need for you to write.”  So, I signed up and ‘crammed the three-year course into five’ and have no idea how we paid for it.  Fortunately, I loved taking the course and gradually became peaceful that learning to write was what I was supposed to be doing. That emphatic impression ignited an inner challenge which became beautiful--like stumbling upon a jewel. I realized later that ‘out of the blue’ was God’s way of speaking to me about enlarging my vision.

When brother John’s Sunday-call came I asked him about his understanding about the essence of impressions. He mentioned fleeting impressions, or surface impressions which are common and short-lived. “I’m thinking about impressions that almost bowl you over”, I explained. “What do you mean?” he asked. “Have I ever told you about my emphatic impression to write?  “No, I don’t think so; tell me about it.” After I related my story, John was very moved and agreed that it was a meaningful and significant spiritual experience. Then, he said “I had one pretty much like that”. So, he shared:

On a routine visit to the park with my dog a strong inner thought lodged in my mind that I should retire from pastoring the church. “No way”, I debated with God. “I love being the pastor of this church. At 62 there’s no way that I could give this up.  I would like to minister here until I’m 72”.  The debate went on for a month. Little by little God impressed on me that he had something else in mind for me. Sometime before this, I accompanied Gloria to a psychology retreat which was very enjoyable. I met the Psychology chairman of our local college and others with whom I had much in common. Later, I happened to run into the Psychology Chairman, and as we had coffee together, he asked me if I’d be interested in teaching psychology in our community college, and surprisingly and immediately I accepted the invitation, realizing that this was God’s other plan for my life. Actually, the richest part of my life was in the classroom which I did enthusiastically until I was 89.

In my case, over the next few years, I wrote articles and Bible studies for six magazines. An editor friend from our denomination encouraged me. Then, because I couldn’t counsel everyone who needed help in organizing and having Children’s Worship, the manager of the book store that I frequented for ideas said, “Ruth, why don’t you just write your own book.”  A pastor friend in Maryland who was aware of what was going on said that he had a publisher friend who would be happy to help me. And he was right! When I was frustrated that I couldn’t find time to counsel all the people who needed help, Master’s Press editor urged me to write a book on marriage counseling.  Then, he asked for several more. I fell in love with writing, the medium which enhances counseling and encouragement. The well-known Baker Book House bought Master’s Press and my little books and published several more of my later titles.

Although writing is gratifying to me, it is not easy.  I can counsel all day and get charged up but writing for three hours wears me out. Writing comes easier for Introverted Intuitives.  As an Extroverted Feeler, my predominant preference is counseling; writing is my shadow side. Understanding in what order preferences kick in reveals to Intuitives why dusting is boring to them, and why solving relationship problems is difficult for the Sensing group. The second side of each personal profile explains the individual order. Personalities are God’s idea, and designs which satisfy, challenge and enable us to develop potential with various gifts and talents, areas which may have lain dormant for years.

When the subject of impressions was discussed recently in a study group nearly everyone had an example. Many shared that their impressions concerned college, jobs, lifestyle, accepting a job that no one else would take and discovering that learning a new routine or exposure to new challenges revealed potential in that particular area of work or study which had not been considered before.  Several indicated that their emphatic impression radically changed something in their lives.

We are wise to examine strong impressions--negative or positive. If you have followed an impression which in turn has enriched your life, email me.  I’d like to write a blog just on readers’ stories which would encourage and give confidence in investigating and trusting their vibes more.

When the crowd’s impression of the woman taken in adultery was bent on stoning her, Jesus’s impression was positive--a woman in need with future potential. “All right, hurl the stones at her until she dies,” Jesus said: “But only he who never sinned may throw the first!” …And the Jewish leaders slipped away one by one…until only Jesus was left in front of the crowd with the woman. “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No sir” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” John 8:7, 9-11. LB. In essence, go have a life!

God uses many ways to make himself and his plans known to us. The Apostle Paul, along with many other biblical characters from Old and New Testaments followed up on strong, emphatic impressions, obeying what they were ‘told’ in one way or another as Paul puts it: So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Cor. 4:18 (NIV).

If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that. James 4:15

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Heb. 11:1 (NIV). Thank you, Father, for your presence and faithfulness in giving positive directions for our lives.