Recently, I was given an assignment:
Ask a few people who know you well what they think your biggest strengths are and where they see you being brave in the midst of what you’re dealing with.
Honestly, I was afraid to pose the question to those closest to me. My reservation was not because of what they might or might not say. My friends are beautiful people, so I knew they would respond with encouraging words. I was reluctant to ask them the question because I didn’t want to interrupt their day. My husband is a busy businessman. His time is reserved for clients all over the nation. My friend is a teacher at an elementary school, whose attention is solely focused on the little learners in her class. My other friend is an artist and work-from-home-mom of four, whose care is in constant demand. And my mom, well I am still amazed at how she is less available as a retiree than she was when she worked a full-time job.
I didn’t think that they should be disrupting the rhythm and demands of their day on my behalf. “They don’t have time,” I thought. And I didn’t believe that I was worthy of their encouraging words. So even as I write this, I have no idea why I actually followed through with the assignment (probably because I am a bit of a perfectionist who has to finish what she’s started — classic enneagram one!). So, at the beginning of the day, I quickly texted the question and hit send.
“Well at least I did the assignment,” I thought. I resolved that if no one replied, I would be fine with that. After all, what right did I have to require their time and attention.
The school teacher responded so quickly that I was baffled by how fast she must have read the text and typed her response. It read:
Your biggest strength is your ability to teach and reach all levels. You do this with such care, and you are super prepared. You have such grace for the “ignorant.”
A few minutes later, the artist-mom-of-four replied:
I think your strength is your ability to transmit the knowledge and peace God has placed within you. This comes across to many as grace, acceptance, wisdom, and a willingness to hear someone’s heart. This connects to how you are brave because you are willing to show this same ability in stressful situations and toward difficult people. This gives you a strong voice in the darkness, but it is not shouting with hate but holding steadfast with love and humility.
By the afternoon, my mom had texted back with an abridged response, indicating her level of busyness:
Greatest strengths: love for God and all mankind, positive, focused, honest, determined, sincere.
Brave: stepping out in faith. Trusting God.
And in a fashion that is truly my husband, he slid into home base just before bed time with this response:
Strengths: Learning new things, work ethic, caring for people that others discard (and other nice things I’ll keep to myself)
Brave: You are out on a limb doing things that are brand new to you. Connecting all the dots, even the ones outside of your natural strengths and interests.
It was difficult for me to read their words. In the midst of all the challenging and new endeavors that have chased me down and overtaken me, I imagined that those closest to me could only see a whirlwind of anxiety, fear, and panic occupying the space where Lucretia once existed. I have felt like a mess and was sure that is how I was perceived. But their words described the woman I long to be, a woman I would admire and celebrate.
So, I paused to admire her. I looked at how she’d said yes to hard things far outside of her comfort zone. I reflected on how her unconventional methods — the ones that got her rejected by the status quo — had afforded her seats at tables that had been longing to host her. The cost had been significant, but she was confident that the rewards would be exponentially greater. I rejoiced that her fear was overshadowed and outweighed by her courageous love. And this woman, the one those closest to me described, knew that she was not alone. She knew that she was simply an expression of a loving and generous God.
Although I had been reluctant to reach out for them, I paused and considered the gift I’d been given through their affirmations. I needed to gaze at their picture of me. I inhaled. I decided to believe them. I exhaled, refreshed with a new mindset. Where I could only see struggle and exhaustion, friends saw my race marked with endurance and winning.
Now its your turn: Ask a few people who know you well what they think your biggest strengths are and where they see you being brave in the midst of what you’re dealing.
Run your race with courage. -@brownicity: Click To Tweet