permission

This year, I have made it a priority to ensure that I get myself back on track in many areas I have neglected.

There have been many transitions over the past few years and what I am learning is that stream-of-change isn’t unique to me, to military spouses, or even just to women and mothers. Life is dynamic and constant; it’s ever developing and evolving. How we choose to adapt to it is completely up to us.

The fruit of my own soul-searching and time spent digging deeper into this issue of purpose amidst change has yielded some encouragement. Today, I hope to pass that along.

For most women, we wear many hats each day. It can be tricky to navigate the feelings of self-worth, value, mission and even ambition depending upon which hat we have on. I’m constantly negotiating my feelings about being a wife, a mother, a teacher, and counter-balancing my dreams of writing, and how I can make this all work. It’s sometimes difficult to see and know where “I” fit into each of those roles. For the longest time I have felt myself floundering and wondering. I’ve felt exhausted in my pursuits.

Earlier this year I had the chance to take a strengths-finder test and later attended a valuable day of training. Having the results of this assessment has been one of the most freeing, focusing and pertinent sets of information I have ever had in my possession.

The test is the Engage Your Strengths 2.0 (EYS), a derivative of the Clifton Stengthsfinder assessment. This test has been made available for churches, military and paramilitary organizations by the American Bible Society. Anyone can take this version from the Gallup Strengths Center Store.  It costs around $10 and takes about 30 minutes to go through the questions and rate your responses. Your feedback is given immediately and you not only get your top 5 strengths, but also lots of other information explaining the themes as well as how to put them into action in your life.

For the first time in decades, I finally felt as if I had a vocabulary that adequately and accurately articulated who I am, what I feel and think and how I operate. It was a huge YES!!! and Aha!!! moment for me to read these results.

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Each person will have different results, but my top 5 themes are:

1. Input

2. Harmony

3. Belief 

4. Communication

5. Discipline

Reading and understanding the information from the EYS test (and training) has been something that crosses my mind at least a few times each week. It is helping me to make better decisions about where and how I spend my time. Best of all, it has almost totally alleviated any guilt I have had about how others perceive my decisions. I am learning to walk in my strengths.

This is a motif I’m finding everywhere. My Bible reading is further reinforcing that idea!

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A monumental outcome of 2015 (already) is realizing that I am not called to do it all. (A misconception I have falsely believed for far too long!) I am called to be the Claire that God designed and created me to be.

I have been able to see where these EYS themes have been at work in me for my entire life and I am slowly acquiring wisdom on where I believe those themes and strengths will take me in the future.

Instead of getting weighed down by exhaustion and the quest for significance in my doing, this new knowledge has buoyed me to a place of working smarter, not harder in my own discovery and development.

*****

I believe that so many of us are essentially mucking our way through life doing the best we can. Many of us are making our daily decisions based on what we think others need or expect from us. We are failing to first know who Christ has called and created us to be. Secondly, we aren’t walking in those truths. And if we aren’t walking on the right path how will be ever arrive at the best destination?

Do you know who you are in Christ?

Are you walking in that truth?

Are you on the right path?

There’s no greater tool for discovery than the primary source of God’s word. But I’d encourage anyone who may be struggling to figure out who you are, what you are doing and where you are going to please, please make the investment of time and a few dollars to take this online assessment. You will be so very glad you did.

*****

The EYS workbook uses this passage from the Message translation to further bring the point home:

“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” {Galatians 6:4-5, The Message}

*****

God is writing a story in each of our lives and the character traits he’s given each of us are unique. May we each go in the direction that God has called us to go; we have permission to be ourselves. Oh what freedom there is to be found!

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