A few months ago, something happened in the news, and when I saw it, I just tuned it out. I wasn’t surprised by it, and it wasn’t worth the emotional toll of letting myself get caught up in the controversy.
Until a good friend wrote a long email about how much she personally felt hurt by what happened and how she was struggling to accept it.
All of a sudden, something rose up in me.
And now I was ready to fight. Protect. Defend.
NOW it mattered—because now someone I loved was hurt by it.
The advocate in me stood up and prepared for battle.
I wrote my friend a long and impassioned response and lifted her up in prayer—and was privately amused by my rapid turnaround in behavior. That day showed me something important about myself.
As I’ve learned about the enneagram, a personality typing system, it has given me insights into my own responses to situations and started teaching me how to change the things that I don’t like about myself. I know not everyone feels the same way, but I find it a handy tool to help me identify when my behavior is going off the rails and find a way to get back on track.
Also, I love the insights it gives me about God.
The Enneagram 8 personality (or Challenger) can have plenty of flaws—pride, judgment, and insensitivity that can lead to leaving people feel as though they’ve been run over. But there are good things, too.
Because one aspect of a Challenger is the tendency to advocate for those who do not have a voice or are unable to defend themselves.
So when I read this verse, something rose up inside of me in celebration:
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 1 John 2:1-2 (NIV)
Although I like to come to people’s aid when they’re hurting, the truth is I won’t always do what I need to do for myself when my faith is suffering, my prayer life is nonexistent, I’ve stopped reading or studying the Bible, and I’m just going through the motions. Throughout my adult life, I have watched God in those moments reach me in crazy and roundabout ways, often reminding me of words I had written that now applied to me.
Thinking about Jesus in this context reminds me of all the other times that He has been my advocate. When He has spoken to me in my grief. When He has called me to pray for others when I could no longer pray for myself—and in those moments, I have found my own faith again.In my biggest moments of weakness and doubt, when I am stuck and don’t know what to do, Jesus has always been faithful to advocate for ME. And in the process, I’ve found my faith again. Click To Tweet
The dictionary definition of an advocate is “a person who supports others to make their voices heard, or ideally for them to speak up for themselves; to plead in favor of; to defend; to support.” How cool is that? To have our own personal advocate in the face of opposition and struggles we cannot handle on our own?
Paraclete, the Latin word meaning advocate in the Bible, commonly refers to the Holy Spirit.
This shouldn’t be a surprise, though, because of what Jesus promised us:
“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26 (NIV)
When I am faithless, He remains faithful (2 Timothy 2:13).
When I am weak, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).
God does not expect me to face all of my battles alone.God will provide what I need—and sometimes what I need is for Him to face the challenge not just with me but for me. In my place. Just as He did on the cross. Just as He has done my whole life. Click To Tweet
We are not alone in this walk, in this life—even if it feels that way at times. We have someone who mourns with us, rejoices with us—and defends us when we are unable to defend ourselves. Sometimes those battles aren’t external, but internal—so God’s battle plan may take the form of breaking through our own defenses so we can let Him in.
He knows us.
He knows the things others don’t know. He knows the things I haven’t even yet discovered about myself (as well as the things I want to pretend I don’t see about myself). And He will not let me be tripped up by them. He stands up and defends me. Eliminates my excuses. Challenges me. Encourages me. Gently, so gently, nudges me forward. Time and time again. Faithful, even when I am not. Especially when I am not.