I'm going to be really honest - when I was a kid I was kind of strange looking. I had this kinky curly red hair; super white freckly skin and these huge lips. I also had this unfortunate resemblance to Little Orphan Annie. (I didn't watch the movie until I was in my teens due to the trauma of being called Annie throughout my childhood! lol).
As I entered the gawky middle school years in the 80s, I hated what I saw in the mirror. I was NOT the ideal. I couldn't tan to save my life (and I have the sunburn scars to prove it). My hair didn't feather - in fact that banana comb I kept in my back pocket to seem cool would get stuck in my brillo pad-like hair if I actually tried to use it.
It wasn't until I was about 15 years old that I started to grow into those physical characteristics that caused me so much angst in my younger years.
I stopped fighting my natural curl (it helped that the whole permed look came into vogue) and went with the way my hair had been created. Instead of something I was embarrassed about, my hair became one of my positive traits.
Those big lips that seemed out of place on my younger face suddenly were the envy of my thinner lipped friends. (thank you, Julia Roberts!)
Over time, I grew into my physical traits. The things that had caused me to cringe in the past or want to hide - or in the case of my hair to flatten and tame - became positives.
The same can be said of our strengths. Some things that can seem like a burden before can end up being a true blessing - once we grow into them.
This week, we've been buddying up on the God-Sized Dream Team. I'm embarrassed to say that I just contacted my buddy to ask how I can encourage her. So, Christine Wright, get ready to be encouraged! :)
However, before we buddied up last week, one of the women in the group offered (after I asked) to critique a Bible study I'm writing. I'm not a Bible scholar so the idea of writing a Bible study feels like a real stretch for me.
Okay, here is a little confession - I've always had the heart of a nerd. I love to study God's Word. I love to look up the history surrounding the stories in the Bible. I love to know what the original Hebrew and Greek really mean. My favorite question to ask is "Why?"
I've always had a love of words and their meanings. If you look back at those middle school years, back when kids signed each other's year books, this girl signed mine by saying, "I hope you don't learn any more big words over the summer - haha - j/k!" The "just kidding" didn't take the sting our of those words, though. So, I put my inner nerd away for a while. I mean, who wants to be known as a geek anyway?
As an adult, my inner nerd has come in handy in a variety of ways. My love of words is part of my God-sized dream and it is certainly one of my strengths. Teaching is another thing I love to do, but I often feel unqualified even when God places an urgent need in my heart to share something He's taught me or a truth He's shown me in His Word. I still think - who am I that people should listen to me?
Enter the God-sized Dream Team and Chelle Wilson. There are 99 other women on the team, and connecting with all of them is just not possible. But from day one, something about Chelle drew me - we laughed about being separated at birth and our similarly wired brains. So, I stepped out on a limb and asked her to critique the Bible study I'm working on.
I appreciated her thoughtful and helpful feedback. After all, a good critique is not just "hey, it's great." I'm not going to get any better if I don't get constructive criticism on how to make my writing better, but Chelle was also encouraging.
In her email she wrote, "Your gift for teaching is clear. I wonder if you question your own authority too much...humility is one thing, but clearly you're researched, prayed up, and leading capably."
It made me stop and think - was I pulling a Moses myself? Was I questioning God's calling because I felt inadequate? Was I afraid to step into the role God had for me because I lacked confidence in the ability that God gave me?
Chelle's words helped me to grow a bit more into one of my strengths. To be honest, I feel a bit weird talking about my strengths - it almost feels prideful - but God gave them to me, so to not use them is to waste them. It's really not about me, anyway. It's about using them to give God glory and to help others step into closer relationship with Him.
While I love people, I also have an independent streak - sometimes too much so. This week, God brought home to me the need we all have - myself included - in having companions for the journey. Being independent can be good, but too much independence can hurt us. God created us for community. It didn't intend for us to go it alone. Hey, even the Lone Ranger had Tanto!
So, thanks Chelle for helping me to grow a little more into my strengths, for encouraging me to continue to take the next step in this God-sized Dream.
"And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart." Ecc. 4:12
Who makes up your cord?
~ Blessings, Bronte