“I wish I wasn’t so……”
If you’re anything like me you have conversations with yourself like this on a weekly if not daily basis.
“I wish I wasn’t so……” Fill in the blanks for whatever it is about yourself that you wish were different. “I wish I wasn’t so stressed, out of shape, overweight, angry, tired, poor, etc.”
You probably have the opposite conversation as well. “I wish I was more…athletic, social, successful, thin, muscular, articulate, positive, etc.” Insert whatever you see in others that you wish you had or were more of.
Most of us spend a lot of time focusing on what we think is wrong with ourselves and not on what is right, on what we don’t have instead of what we do have.
I’m so guilty of this bad habit. The other day I found myself stuck in this negative thought whirlpool when a bible verse that I know well but hadn’t thought of in a while came out of nowhere and hit me right in the forehead.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT) – …… “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
It reminded me that not only are our weaknesses OK but they are necessary for God to move in our lives. If we had everything together and could handle everything on our own we wouldn’t need him.
I don’t know about you but I know that I’ll be able to do much more in God’s power that with my own. The problem is most of the time I only rely on my own and then get frustrated when I don’t seem to have enough.
A few years back I read a book called “Strengths Finder” that fleshed out this concept very practically. The basic premise of the book is that most of us spend lots of time focusing on and trying to overcome our weaknesses when our biggest potential for growth and productivity is in our areas of strength.
In reality the best we can hope to do is manage our weaknesses. By focusing on and growing in our areas of strength we’ll be able to do more and go places in our lives that we never thought possible.
The book actually comes with an assessment tool that helps identify your top five strengths and learn how to grow in those areas. It’s definitely worth checking it out if you haven’t read it before.
Initially the thought that we can really only hope to manage our weaknesses was to me a little discouraging. “You mean I have to live with this the rest of my life?” But as I’ve journeyed down this road a little farther I’ve discovered something interesting. By simply embracing my weaknesses and focusing less on trying to overcome them they automatically become less of a big deal.
This isn’t an excuse for bad or reckless behavior. Managing my weaknesses means I need to be responsible and work so that my they don’t control me or my life. But it also means they’ll probably always be there to an extent and to expect otherwise is only going to lead to frustration.
The biggest example for me is anxiety. While I’d love more than anything to eradicate it from my life completely, that is probably not going to happen. Anxiety is part of the human experience and by accepting that and trying not do beat myself up so much when I experience it, the intensity of the experience is already lessened. I can also acknowledge that this weakness and others are a place for God to work in my life and can be used to help and encourage others. If I can do that and then try to redirect my focus to the ways God has gifted me, I’m moving in a powerful direction.
I find that writing things down is a good way to acknowledge them and make them more concrete, so in an effort to “practice what I preach,” I’ll write a few of my strengths here:
- I am good with people
- I’m empathetic
- I’m a good dad, husband and friend
- I am a good communicator
- I’m a good musician
- I’m creative
What are a few of your God-given strengths?
As difficult as it might be, I encourage you to write out 3-5 in the comments below or by responding to this post in Facebook. It’ll be a chance to encourage yourself and others!