Over the last year, I’ve heard a lot of teaching and information on personality differences, strengths and weaknesses, looking at ourselves through positive lenses and sharing positive feedback to people around us. It’s really easy to look at someone different from me and think “what is wrong with them?”, or pass a speedy judgment when someone makes a decision differently than I would. Being part of a large family, there are MANY personalities in my house. Sometimes we joke about there being too many chiefs and not enough Indians, but without question, we’d all tell you who is in charge of the house. There are six children, two parents, 3 grandparents still living…all but one of those people live within an acre of each. Eight of them in one house, and two right across the driveway. We see each other on a daily basis and we have to deal with problems or the awkwardness just festers. My parents are incredible, but about as opposite as two people could get on minor things! My older sister and I share a room, and we’re the same way – COMPLETE opposites. Yet, we get along as if we were almost twins (most of the time anyway…except when we disagree about open vs shut curtains and open vs. closed door at night!) There’s 4 other siblings and while we’re all similar in some areas, in other areas I must say sometimes I wonder how we’re all related. Anyway, I’m one of the more sensitive siblings. I tend to give more 2nd and 3rd (and 4th, 5th, 6th…10,000th) chance to people who have hurt me, I’m loyal (sometimes to a fault) and I generally search for the good in people. This can be a bad thing sometimes, because I’ll overlook their negative qualities and cling to the positive with the comment “look how awesome this person is!” Don’t get me wrong – I see the negative, trust me. But I will not focus on it, especially if everyone else is focusing there.
In my family, close friends and people who know me, I’ve heard the statements “you trust too easily, you’re indecisive and ride the fence, you always want more and what you have isn’t good enough for you, you’re set in your ways, you’re stubborn, you avoid conflict and that’s bad…etc.” I’m sure everyone can think up a negative thing someone has said about you in the past that while as much as you hate it…you know that it’s a part of you and you’re not sure it’s able to be changed…or that you’d really want too. Because let’s face it…yes, I’m stubborn but if you ask me, I’d say “only when it comes to something I believe strongly will I not give in.” I usually will give in…to avoid conflict…to keep others happy and bring about the most peace. However, if it goes against a core value or something I believe strongly, you better believe I’m gonna be stubborn. Maybe that’s a bad thing…but over the years, it’s had moments where I’m very thankful for that part of who I am.
Towards the end of last year, I ended a relationship. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But it’s taught me some things about myself. I’ll say looking at my life now, I’m thankful for the lessons I’ve been learning because of the situation. The man had told me many things, some that I’d longed to hear for years and hadn’t really believed until he told me them without being asked. When we parted ways, this same man who had promised many things and gave many compliments (which I choose to believe were meant when he said them), on the way out of my life, he broke my heart by shattering everything he’d ever said to me. It was like he had this list of all the things and places I was vulnerable and he enjoyed crushing each one of them. This left me a myriad of emotions…aching and upset were probably the two most predominate ones. I found myself wondering again who I was, if there was any good thing I did, if I was beautiful and wanted, why someone would want to be friends with me. I questioned if I was a loyal friend, if I loved honestly or if it was just shallow love, I asked myself if I could make decisions, if I could be a positive addition to anything. That’s when I realized I’d placed a lot of my confidence in how he viewed me, which is very bad. My confidence is now being rooted in what God thinks of me!
Well, enough of that memory lane, over the next few months, I buried myself in work. Yesterday, at church we heard a message about “naming our animals” (I’ll post a link to that later) and being busy while waiting on God to move in our lives. That’s what I did. I told myself that no matter what that guy’s opinion, or anyone else’s opinion of me was, here is what mattered – God knew me. He loved me. He chose me. And He would do it again in a heartbeat!
Over the course of reading and continuing my education through in-service trainings, sermons and talking with friends and family, I began validating who I was again, this time on a much firmer foundation. Building my self-confidence back up. I wasn’t crazy. I was still just as beautiful as I was told. I am loyal, always will be. God would bring verses, put a message on someone’s heart, have a song sung to me, a song would play on the radio, I stumbled across a movie that had a great message in it…the ways God spoke to my heart crossed all lines and started getting the message across. I felt like God was pursuing me and saying “You’re special. I love you. You are mine.”
That’s the coolest feeling.
So get this…on the 12th of February, I had to be in Knoxville for a training and this was conducted by the TSU (Tennessee State University) staff members. We’d had to previously fill out a personality quiz (The Strengths Quest by Gallup), and that quiz would give us our top 5 strengths. As I took the test…I thought “there is no way this is going to nail me. It’s so complicated and confusing. I’m not even sure that’s what I’d answer, I need to analyze that more…oh wait, I only have 20 seconds, ahhhh….just pick one. Hope that was right…whatever, it’s not like it’s going to matter anyway”…those were some of my thoughts while taking the quiz…needless to say. The quiz hit me squarely, the results described me almost to a T.
Now, being 100% honest…as I read those words, I wanted to cry. Because they put some of the very things I have been criticized on into a positive light and they were strengths. Things I was GOOD at. These were skills that I had, that God gave me, to compliment the people around me. Not everyone has these same skills. These were specifically given to me. To me.
I may break this into two posts…and talk more in depth about what I learned in the 2nd one. But here’s the main point to this post…You are special, unique and of great value!
There is no one else just like you, no one else can complete the task you were put on earth to accomplish and you are needed to get the job accomplished. Others may look at us, with our various strengths, and go “well, I just think those are weaknesses”…they see them as such because those strengths of yours, are most likely their weaknesses. For me…I look at the list of 34 strengths and can easily pull a few that I’m not very good at – these are things like “command, competition, deliberative, woo, intellection, etc.”…I find these are some of the strengths that I like having in other people (because it’s areas I’m weak in) but they are also some of the ones that will drive me crazy fastest.
So here’s my last thoughts for now…look at the people around us, and appreciate them for their differences. Check out their strengths, admire them for their strengths and look at yourself the same way! You have strengths, maybe these really are the “weaknesses” others see. It never hurts to improve on areas we have…but if we focus on what we’re strong in we can stride forward and TRUST ME, the weaknesses will still be there. But our strengths will get stronger. It’s a matter of what we’re looking at – positive lens or the negative one? Do we value people for being different or do we try and turn everyone into a “me”?
I’ll write more about what I learned next blog post, but I don’t want this any longer! LOL! Trying to learn to get “short, sweet and simple”…haven’t quite learned that technique yet! 🙂