Tag Archives: strength

Owning Our Strengths

Image Source: A Shared Lens

Image Source: A Shared Lens

I sat across the table from a friend today for 3 and a half hours that felt nowhere near that long.  I have not so fully understood someone’s heart or felt as fully understood by someone in a very long time.  And in the safety of that sacred place, I found myself speaking aloud things I have only acknowledged in the depths of my heart and the whispers of my prayers.

We spoke of crazy dreams and big ideas, faith and community; above all, we spoke of the beauty unleashed when women find their voice and their strength, when one person’s courage inspires another and then another and then another . . .

***

A lifetime in church and in faith circles has taught me that among the myriad of thing Christians fear most is pride.  This is not without reason.  We all know pride comes before the fall. Um, hello – we ALL know how Lucifer got himself thrown out of heaven.  For me personally as a worship leader, it is legitimately something we struggle with the most – not pointing people to ourselves and our talents instead of to God.  And if you’d rather throw everything spiritual out of the equation, let’s just go on and say it how it is – no one likes being around a cocky person.

But.

In an extreme effort to avoid this crippling, poisonous vice, we have often diminished the magnitude of our strengths, and as a result, the message of who God is.  The overall effect is a bunch of people walking around with a false humility the rest of the world can smell from a mile away, simply because we have misunderstood what genuine humility looks like.

If I am not willing to acknowledge my strengths, I will not use them as effectively as I could.  I will allow myself to get backed into other areas that are not the best use of my gifts.  I will not spend my time most efficiently and by default, I will not represent or advance the kingdom of God as well as I could.

This is not pride.

Pride says, “I have this strength because I’m just that good.”  Humility says, “I have this strength because God has gifted me with it.”

Pride says, “I will use these strengths to make myself known.” Humility says, “I will use my strengths to make Jesus known.”

Pride says, “I am threatened by people who are stronger than me in this area.”  Humility says, “I will learn from people who are stronger than me in this area.”

***

My fiery friend said it best today when she said, “We jump into the arena with other women, bloody and scarred from battle, not because we are fighting each other, but because we are knocking out the lies.  And when you are ready to knock out the lie holding you back, we will offer you the strength to thrust your arm forward and take it down.”

If I embrace my strength, it will be there in all its force to offer you when you need it.  We most fully illuminate the splendor and beauty of God when we own our strengths, run full force with the powers He has put in each of us.

Here are some strengths I am finding the courage to own:

I am a musician and I am a writer.

I am a good mother, and a creative one too.

I am a good worship leader, and with that, I am very good at building solid worship teams and developing effective worship leaders.

I have an e-book, a novel, a poetry anthology and an e-course brewing inside me – more likely several of all of the above.

I am a visionary and a strategist and a prophetic voice.

***

It is harder than it might seem to write that list, to own the things God has placed in me, especially when it feels a lot of them are overlooked right now.  But it’s a starting point and a step in the right direction.

And now it’s your turn.  What are the strengths you are wired with?  Own them.  Run with them.

 

*Looking for that community that will champion your strengths and cheer you on as you find your voice?  It’s right here.

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Filed under Beauty, Creativity, Faith

Strengthen What Remains

Image Source: Jennifer Upton

Image Source: Jennifer Upton

For the last week, I have found myself glancing at the calendar impatiently, as if somehow I can coax the last few days of this month to move a little faster.  February has not been kind to me.  I am ready to shout some version of “Good riddance!” and “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!”

It’s frustrating.  I had a lot of hopes for this month, plans, intentions.  But it seems like all my hopes were met with disappointment or hurt or failure or a dismal combination of all of the above.  Throw in a very unexpected, expensive vehicle repair and a very sick child, and I’m telling you, this is not the recipe for a good time.  So here I am – glaring at the remaining days and trying to stay low key, avoid anymore upsets.

Until it dawned on me.  This is not how God works.  Not one bit.  He never stares us down and sighs with exasperation, “Well, you screwed that up, so let’s just bide your time and get past this.”  He never looks at a person or circumstance only to toss them into the “lost cause” pile.  His mercies are new every morning.  No – wait.  Don’t glaze over that as a cliche or overused Bible verse.  Drink it in – Mercy. Fresh. Today. Now.

God never stops believing in redemption.  It is the story He has been writing since the beginning of time, and He will not stop until all things are reconciled to Him.  And all He is asking is for us to believe in this too: nothing is beyond the reach of His redemption. Nothing.

Why?

Because everything else fades away – things spoken to us and over us, things we think we know, seasons we are in, the limited picture we can see now.  It will all cease and be stilled and pass away.  And then these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these?

Love.

Which brings me full circle to my hopes for February.  I wanted to spend the month pondering and probing the depths of this love – His love and the glimpses of love He offers us through others on this earth.  So maybe it hasn’t gone according to plan, but there are three more days in this month, today included.  And today is as good as any to stare full on into the wonders of His love.

In all my interactions with people, most especially with my children, I find myself considering more and more – what is the most important truth I can leave on this heart today?

And it is this – His love does not fail.  It is relentless.  It is powerful enough to redeem anything and everything.  Where we feel there is nothing left – no hope, no goodness – His love is the breath that strengthens what remains and infuses us with new life.

You do not have to give up today.  His love most certainly will not let you go.

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Filed under Faith, Hope, Love, Presence