Has this thought ever crossed your mind? “The older I get, the more I have to learn.” Not only am I realizing how much I have to learn, but how much my children have to teach me.
Recently I have been learning more about about my strengths. Years ago, I took the giftings test at church, but we didn’t go into much detail. Caleb, our oldest son, took a more in depth strengths test last year at school. Seeing how the knowledge has benefitted him, I took the plunge and bought the book. It’s crazy how accurate it is to me. Now I understand how excited he was when he got his results. It opens up so many more avenues of understanding ourselves and others. I have a better insight into myself and the world around me, especially our children.
My top strengths are restorative, empathy, belief, connectedness, and developer. All of these are relational and are focused on problem solving, feeling others feelings, wanting the best for others and believing they can have it, having an intense belief that nothing happens by mistake and every detail of life is connected, deriving satisfaction from seeing others grow and improve, constantly feeling the need to mediate. Learning this has opened my eyes to so many things about myself, how I relate to others, and why many times, I feel like I am in a constant struggle. It’s hard to rest when I am continuously trying to fix problems, speak into situations, intercede for others success, wink, wink.
Sunday evening, I was with our 11 year old son at Cookout in Columbia. We were waiting for his brother, so we had been wasting time before we could pick him up. I was charging my phone and Samuel was standing beside the door playing with a yoyo. He’s always been very intuitive to people and situations around him, probably due to some relational strengths in him. He got in the car and asked me if I’d seen the girl by the door. Honestly, I answered a half-hearted no. I was tired, it was late, and I was ready to get home, not focusing much on the surroundings. He didn’t let up. Next he said, “The lady in the car beside us asked her if she needed anything, but she said she was waiting on her parents.” Now I was realizing I needed to pay more attention. Sam realized she had been there a while; she had several large tattoos across her neck and chest (These made him realize she wasn’t a young girl.) He had also discerned she was too old to be waiting on her parents and he felt like she had a need. He then announced that he thought she was sleeping and that wasn’t ok on the curb of a restaurant. He encouraged me to get her something to eat, so we went in, bought some food and a cup for a drink, and took them out to her. She said thank you and God Bless us, went in to fill her drink, and sat down to eat. We went back to the car and Sam and I prayed for her together.
Why am I sharing this? Learning more about my strengths has helped me understand why Sam couldn’t rest until we bought her food, and why I haven’t been able to stop thinking about why I didn’t connect with her more. Sure, feeding her was a step, but I didn’t try to mesh with her on a relational level. Giving her food was the easy part. For someone else who doesn’t have the strengths I do, this could have been the hard part. We all have a different part to play in the big picture. I realized later that I felt disappointed in myself. God had given me such a cool opportunity, not to only be light to the girl, but to step out just like Sam had.
As we left Cookout, Samuel told me how they had talked about giving to others in children’s church that day. I thought about how we reaffirmed what he had learned that day, that he’d learned and actually put it into practice. His child-like faith, stepped out to do what he knew was the right thing. Sam was an incredible example to me that night! My biggest lesson was that I want and need my faith to be more simplistic like his. I don’t want to be fearful of people or situations, but to step out in those relational strengths that God has molded into me.
This reminded of an incident with our oldest son last year. Here is what he wrote. (Shared with permission.) “This guys name is Harry. He’s my friend without a home, ever since coming to SCSL I have come in contact with more people who live on the streets then I have in my entire life and I’ve come to realize that my heart does break for people. Last night after work me and Harry talked for an hour, and it made me remember something that @garrett_sho told me and others, most people who live on the streets are not starving there are plenty of good trash cans to get food from, what they are starving for is someone to listen to them. For someone to show that they care. If nothing else send up a prayer for Harry and all the other friends without homes. #scsl1516 #bringingbackblackandwhite #friendswithouthomes“
Harry, Caleb’s Friend Without a Home
I am certain God reminded me of this post Caleb had written last year. The conviction felt like a scolding, reinforcing that yes, I need to step out in faith. Looking back, I wish I had gone back in, sat down with the girl, and listened a while. I won’t beat myself up, but I definitely choose to heed the lesson. We’re always growing, and in that growth, I have promised that next time I will do better! Lesson learned! In the meantime, I will continue to pray for her as God brings her to mind.
To learn more about your strengths, I highly recommend the book called StrengthsFinder 2.0. When you buy the book, there’s a code in the back to go online and take the test. As parents, leaders, bosses, friends, we can so benefit from understanding ourselves and others more.
(The links to Amazon are affiliate links and from Nov. through Feb., the commissions will go to support missions at SCSL.)