Lately I’ve been on a kick of really thinking about my gifts. As it was put in a book I’m reading: “What are you just flat great at?”
So I’ve been thinking about this. Digging deeper. Geeking out on personality tests and spiritual gifts assessments. Ever heard of the four temperaments? They are sometimes described as animals: lion, otter, golden retriever, and beaver. Apparently I’m half lion, half retriever. This makes zero sense (they are opposite types) until I tell you that my Myers-Briggs type is an INFJ. And man, we are some complex folks, not to mention the rarest personality. My spiritual gifts? Mercy and Exhortation. Need someone to cry with you? Need some encouragement, or a swift kick in the rear because I care about your potential? I’m your girl. (For those interested in this Christian perspective on giftings, I recommend Lifeway’s assessment).
After many years (um, 28) and encouragement from my husband, I am permitting myself to declare that I am a gifted writer. I enjoy it and I’m good at it. I had a piece published in a children’s magazine when I was ten. Teachers have told me I’m good at writing my entire life. I wanted to be a writer once upon a time when I was little (in addition to a famous singer and cancer-curing doctor). So…maybe all that means something. I’m trying to discipline myself to write or read every day (I also happen to be the kind of person who tries to read six books at once, which doesn’t make for a lot of finished books. I just want to eat Barnes & Noble and I find it frustrating that I must digest one word at a time. It all just CALLS to me). Anyways, I’m trying to write more. About anything and everything. Some things on this blog, many things not. It’s pouring out me at an impressive rate, a bird caged far too long.
I’m also good at feeling the feelings of others. I’m good at saying “I get it” and “Me too.” I like holding the hands of others who are dealing with similar plights and doing the little I can to allay their hurts. I’m actually attracted to people in distress (which is perhaps how I ended up helping women give birth naturally). If the world has been cruel to you, I will be there in your corner. With Kleenex and brownies and without judgment. I’m good at providing a safe space. I will be incredibly sensitive to your wounds. I will be what you need.
I’m also a decent (lay!) counselor and a good listener. I like walking with people through hard stuff (and this baby-raising business is way up there in super hard grinds). I love encouraging growth in others and often, conveniently, it fosters growth in me as well. And if we’re really good buddies, I won’t generally shy away from saying something provocative out of concern for your well-being (as much as I’m bent towards mercy, I also demand justice). “Speak the truth in love” would make a great tattoo, me thinks. I’m generally optimistic and I will push you towards hope, always. Once you are my friend, you are not allowed to settle. I will keep calling you to get up and do something.
How does all of this fit together? I’m not totally sure it does, but here’s the conclusion I arrived at following this morning’s ramble: my niche, at least for today, is encouraging and empathizing with others via the written word. Boom. What will it look like? How far will it go? ‘Tis yet to be seen. I’m just saying…I’m good at that.
Don’t come to me if you need help with cooking. Or cleaning. I have no magic answers for how to get your kid to eat or sleep (mine does neither). I cannot organize your desk or your inbox, and lordy, you don’t want me managing your money. But if you’re looking for some reading material that will make you laugh and cry, and if you’d appreciate someone else appreciating you, and you’d like to have a digital cup of tea with me and talk about real life, keep paying me visits. I’ll let you know how the writing unfolds.
Now go do the brave thing that I did. Go figure out what you’re good at and declare it out loud.