I am beginning to learn some cold hard facts about myself:
- I am not good at everything.
- I am good at a few things.
- I am mediocre at some things.
- I am terrible at other things.
- Some things I used to be good at, I’m just not anymore.
Some of that is age. Some of that is kids. Some of that is just life. But it’s a little humbling, especially when you think you’re really awesome.
This realization has set in as I hobble around on crutches thanks to a torn meniscus. And guess what caused it? Running bleachers. While that may have been a totally do-able work-out years ago…many, many years ago…like when I was in HIGH SCHOOL on the track team, today, in my LATE 30’s, at a stage in life when I am barely able to make time for a work-out, that’s just a bad idea. Terrible, stupid idea. But you know what? I often think I am still that awesome athlete (I really wasn’t awesome, but hindsight is 20/20 – isn’t that the saying? Or did I totally botch that?).
An injury will quickly sober you up to reality.
There is hope in this little sob story of mine, I promise I’m getting there. What I’ve found is this: I tend to obsess on all the areas of my life that I’m not naturally very good at, nor do I really enjoy. I find myself spending a lot of energy wishing I could be better at those things and feeling discouraged and insecure that I’m not. This often happens when I see my friends thriving in their own giftedness. Darn that comparison thing. I want to be happy for them, I really do. But that’s just not always the case.
Let’s take home decorating, for example. I am just not good at it. I don’t know what furniture to put with what, what colors go with what, what pictures or rugs or chairs complement one another. Hence, we have my husband’s bachelor pad overstuffed couch with some random colored chairs and rugs. I know they don’t go. People have even sweetly offered to ‘help’ me think through my living room space (ha!). I just don’t really feel like making the effort, spending the money or taking the time to do something I don’t really love in the first place! But then I go over to a friend’s house and see how warm and rich and soft and put-together everything is. I truly appreciate the beauty my friend has created. But then I feel insecure about my own inability to do the same.
The same goes for clothes. When it comes to fashion, I am definitely not in the know. Get this: a few weeks ago, I was wearing this awesome designer shirt my mom handed down to me and it was one of those shirts with unfinished, rough edges and stuff. Whatever that’s called. Well, I wore it inside out. To church. Yep. And sat right in front of the pastor’s wife. Who is always perfectly decked out so I’m sure she noticed. My good friend who was sitting next to me leaned over, during the sermon, and said, “Mandy, do you know your shirt is on inside out?” I argued that it was just the rough edge style. But no, the tag was sticking out. I think we were like on the 4th row that Sunday. Lovely.
When I am around my girlfriends who are always so put together with a stunning outfit, shoes, accessories, and purse, I feel ‘less than.’ I am thinking: man, I would never be able to put something together like that. And then I feel frumpy and out of touch with fashion. But in reality, I hate shopping. I absolutely loathe it. Every time I go, I feel fat and ugly and old and out of style. But of course I buy something to make me feel better about myself. Then I feel guilty for spending money on something I am not sure if I really even like. So maybe I end up eating a bowl of ice cream to stuff down the guilt. Then I swear to never go shopping again. Until the next time I feel like my wardrobe is ‘dated’ and go back and do it all over again.
But here’s the hope: We all have areas that we aren’t good at. We all have insecurities when we get around people who are better at something than we are. But you know what? We also have things that we are darn good at, that we were uniquely made for and meant to use to be a blessing to others! So instead of focusing all our time and energy on what we don’t do well (Facebook breeds this in me! How do so many people my age still look so freaking young??? Are they all using Botox or did I just lay out way too much?) – What if we started to lean into our own giftedness and invest our energy into the areas where we naturally thrive, the places we find joy, the things that are life-giving to us and could be a blessing to others?
I bet you know exactly what those things are for you. Because I sure do. Writing, hosting, making people feel at ease, going deep with people, being vulnerable, connecting with people from all different cultures and backgrounds, being the ‘fun mom’ who gets on the floor and plays with my kids. These are beautiful qualities that I can use to bless others. Yet I often focus on what I lack.
It’s especially challenging when some gifts seem more glamorous and praise-worthy than others. Who wants to be gifted at giving pedicures? God bless those Vietnamese women I see every few months. But how much credit do they really get? That’s why I think in heaven, everyone will get to shine. And not because they are awesome in and of themselves. But because God is awesome. And everything He has created is awesome. And He has chosen to sprinkle a little bit of his Divinity within every single one of us.
I imagine meeting a Bangladeshi brick layer who truly loves what he does and can lay the most lovely, perfect paths of bricks. Or how about an unknown rural African little girl who is a tremendous artist that never really got to use her gifting beyond her little schoolhouse, but she gets to be the one to paint entire murals across the walls of the heavenly city that awaits. Yep, that’s what I imagine heaven will be like.
So all of that comparing, competing crap that we do (or at least I do) is just wasting opportunities to release the Divine in you, to do what you were created to do: use your unique God-given talents to bless those around you. Let’s get out there and start shining. For Him.