Has anyone else ever become painfully aware that their greatest strength is also their most maddening weakness?
Someone recently commented on how much I give of myself to other people…and they said it (probably unintentionally) in a way that made me self-conscious about it.
In a way that implied, “Tay, you’re just a little bit crazy and it’s making me kind of uncomfortable.”
And for days after this, I internally mulled over whether this defining character feature of mine was, in fact, crazy…even just a little bit.
And I’ll admit it. There is a crazy element.
It’s crazy to try and be what someone else wants or needs. But I do this a lot. I put other people first. I meet them where they’re at. I think of them first. I try to make their day. I ask them questions. I over analyze all my words and actions so that I’m not being too much of this, but enough of that. I will be patient and understanding to a fault. I will listen well and ponder your thoughts in my heart. If you hurt me I might tell you, but you probably won’t feel any repercussions because I would rather love without reservation. And all of this honestly comes pretty effortlessly. Because this is me. This is how I am good at being. This is where I’m strong. And for the most part, it works. I have a beautiful existence full of amazing relationships and opportunities that make my life full.
I know how to use this strength and leverage it for the good of others. If I get asked to do something that will make you feel better and I can, it’s honestly great for us both. But here’s where the crazy becomes uncomfortable…I don’t like asking for anything and I don’t like having needs of my own. This doesn’t exactly work, because it isn’t realllllly human.
I’m 9 months in to my year of being fierce and still learning what that looks like, but I think this is part of it. I’m already fiercely loving and giving. That isn’t something I need to grow deeper in. This is where fierce becomes about expanding, adding, balancing. It’s about flexing those muscles I’m adverse to using. It’s hard to accept those challenges for myself. The challenge of being confrontational, self-focused in a way that makes my skin crawl, and bravely blunt.
I mean, if you play an instrument with only one string, it’s going to get really irritating and redundant after awhile, right? Adding a few strings will help you get farther.
I don’t mean for this to sound definitive, but for instance…
If you are really organized, you are probably inflexible. Adapt more.
If you are giving, you are probably not receiving. Take care of yourself more.
If you are a talker, you probably talk too much. Listen more.
If you are a creative, you are probably scatterbrained. Ask more questions.
If you are insanely busy, you are probably restless. Rest more.
If you are great at encouraging, people walk over you. Confront more.
We all need to push ourselves towards balance. I’m not naive enough to think that anyone, myself included, can just start doing this and voila- a whole new person. No, no, no.
One of my favourite authors, Rachel Held Evans, said it this way:
“You tend to come out of the big moments– the wedding, the book deal, the baptism, the trip, the death, the birth– the exact same person who went in, and perhaps the strangest surprise of life is it keeps on happening to the same ol’ you.”
We have game changing life moments, conversations, and prayers. I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever come out of them a whole different person. I’m still me. But something small changes and creates that tiny ripple effect that dictates what happens next: a slow but insanely amazing refining process. I know that for me, it started with acknowledging that my greatest strength makes me weak when I am motivated out of a place of doing or being for love or acceptance from other people. When it fails, I struggle to feel adequate enough. I get hurt. My confidence wavers. I let myself down. But if I am fierce in the refining process, my strength will go farther and hit deeper because I will be motivated out of a place of fully loving and accepting who I am and taking care of what I need before I give.
My best friend said to me, “…it’s like this. If you were to decide to renovate a house on your own as a project you wanted to do…you’d still be doing it with other people in mind. You’d probably make changes and designs for who ever you thought might take up that space. That’s a beautiful, incredible thing about you. But Tay, you have to make it yours first. It has to be tailor-made, you know? The only type of person who deserves what you give is the person who comes in and helps start painting the walls with you in mind. So, be you. 100%. Do your thing. Focus on making that house however you want it first and then the right people, the ones who truly belong in your life, will come in. They’ll come in and you won’t have to change anything. They’ll just decide to stay because they’ll feel at home in your tailor-made house.”
I think he’s right. Now I have to keep on living it out.
Ooft. Well, that was draining.
Speaking of draining…I would like to drain a whole bottle of wine into my mouth.
Ugggh. Whole30. Two more weeks. I can do this.