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Know Yourself

Know who you are and don’t apologize for it. You’re a wonderful, beautiful, one of a kind human, and you have a unique purpose and path that nobody else has.

Know what works for you. Your personality, strengths, gifts, and talents make you better suited for some things than others. Get to know how you work best, live best, and function best. What makes you work, live, and function at your best?

Know what motivates you. What drives you?

Know what energizes you. What kinds of environments and situations make you thrive? How do you recharge?

Know what you’re about. Who are you at your core? What beliefs do you hold tightly to? What are your dreams and goals for the future?

Decide what your life’s purpose is and align your choices with that. What are your values? What matters the most to you? If you were to write a manifesto for your life, what would it say?

It’s difficult to feel like you’re making purposeful decisions if you don’t have a good understanding of what your overarching purpose is in life. It will look different in each stage of your life, but it becomes much easier to make choices when you know what your aim is.

We’re all different. We live different kinds of lives. We embody different aspects of God’s holiness. We work best when we work together; your art complements mine, and mine complements yours.

Sometimes we discover our art, our gifts, and our talents through trial and error.

Sometimes our purpose changes based on our circumstances and season in life.

Sometimes there is no single “right way” to do things. That’s okay. It leaves room for personal expression and gives us all the freedom to do things our own way. We’re all called to walk different paths. No two are the same. Don’t be afraid to boldly walk along yours and live the abundant life you’ve been made for.

Be different. Stand out. Be you. Because you’re pretty great.

 

P.S. If you’re interested in reading more on this topic, stay tuned for an announcement I’m going to make soon about a little passion project I’ve been cooking up! 😉

Strengths and Struggles

What are you good at? What are you not so good at? Most of us would far rather answer the first question than the second. We’d prefer to think about our strengths over our struggles.

It’s hard to admit what we struggle with. Our culture has set up the expectation that we live as though we aren’t weak in any areas, like we don’t need help with anything at all, like we can do it all ourselves.

But I know that’s not the case for me. And I’m willing to bet it’s not the case for you, either.

There are things I’m good at. But there are also things I’m not good at. Some of those things are issues I’ve battled time and time again, frustrated each time I see them cropping back up even after I think I’ve wiped them out.

Struggles make us stronger. If we only paid attention to areas in which we’re already strong, we wouldn’t have to challenge ourselves as much. We wouldn’t experience as much growth.

We should recognize and lean into our strengths. We have them for a reason. They provide us with ways to help those around us and make the world a better place. They give us opportunities to do things that we enjoy.

But we can’t be good at everything. You and I are unique. We have different sets of talents and gifts. We are good at different things, and we work better together as our strengths complement each other. If we were one hundred percent the same, our friendships would be very dull. We wouldn’t have as much fodder for conversation, less to learn about one another, fewer things to discuss, and less room for growth. We need our strengths and struggles to make us unique individuals.

We are better together. We need each other. In order to work best, though, we have to acknowledge the areas in which we are weak, the places for growth in our lives, and be willing to be vulnerable with others we trust. Then they can walk with us in our struggles, provide advice, give encouragement, and share their own experiences.

Our strengths can provide opportunities to teach others and share our skills with them. And our struggles are areas in which we can seek opportunities to learn from others. In both cases, there are ways for us to challenge ourselves, grow, and build relationships with others.

It’s important to focus on strengths and struggles that are really important to you. If you’re strong in an area that you’re not passionate about, know that you don’t have to spend all your time pursuing it. Maybe it will come in handy in some small (or not so small) way later on. Maybe it is something you can simply choose to not pursue right now. There are plenty of other things you can focus on instead that would be a better use of your time.

Similarly, I suggest focusing on improving areas of growth that you think are important to your life. You don’t have to be good at everything. You can choose to just not worry about being good at some things, knowing that you are good at others and your worth doesn’t lie in your ability to excel at everything you try. However, sometimes there are things that you really do want to improve on, like photography skills (that’s where I’m at), organization, healthier eating, exercise, or kicking a bad habit.

In order to pursue anything very well, we need to be willing to really focus on it. If our attention and efforts are divided between too many things, we aren’t able to pour enough energy into any of them because we’re spread too thin.

Choose to pursue what matters most to you, whether you consider it to be a strength or struggle.

Know your strengths. Lean into them. Find ways to explore them in new ways. Grow them. Challenge yourself.

Admit your struggles. You can’t get better at things if you don’t face them. Look to others who are good at what you’re not. Seek advice from them. Get help if you need it. But give yourself grace to know that you don’t have to be good at everything.

What are your strengths? What are your struggles? Have you found good ways to improve your strengths or grow in areas you’ve struggled in? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

The Beauty of Imperfection and Grace

I sow grace for myself. To be where I am, to be who I am. Enough.

I reap grace for others, to excel at what God called them to do in all the excellent ways He’s gifted them. To allow others to own their gifts and calling without resenting being passed over. They are running their own races. No one can outpace me when my route is different. – Alia Joy

Did you catch that? “No one can outpace me when my route is different.” Yes, yes, amen. We’re done here.

Just kidding. But think about it. How often do we find ourselves stuck in the dangerous downward spiral of comparison? We know comparison is the thief of joy, but we let it in anyway.

We steal glances at the people running beside us, and we try to catch up to those ahead of us. We wear ourselves out trying to compete with others and the standards we set for ourselves.

We let comparison whisper lies to us, telling us that we don’t measure up. We believe the little voice that tells us we’re not enough if we don’t buy all the toys, drive the nice cars, have an impressive job, and live in a massive and beautiful home.

We let the world and its expectations tell us what to believe about ourselves and our worth. We allow others to dictate how we spend our money, our energy, and our lives. We try to fit into boxes we were never meant to fit inside.

We tell ourselves that our dreams are too small or too big. We think they need to be the same as everybody else’s. We rein them in and trade them in.

But no more.

We are not perfect, and we don’t have to pretend otherwise. We are not all the same, and that’s a good thing. We are each unique, each beautiful, each valued, and each worthy. We do not have to do anything to be enough. We already are enough. We don’t have to conform to the rules of somebody else’s game. We are free.

We are enough. You are enough. I am enough. Right where we are today. May we give ourselves enough grace to see that. We don’t have to strive for our worth. We already have it.

Part of living like love is learning to love ourselves in the here and now, not some far-off version of us. It’s learning to embrace both our strengths and our weaknesses, acknowledging the reality of where we are at in this moment, even when it’s miles away from where we want to be.

It’s believing in our dreams, choosing to pursue things that we love, things that are different from our neighbor’s, sister’s, and friend’s dreams. It’s leaning into what makes us us.

But it’s also gently pushing ourselves to greater heights. Not because it will make us more worthy, not because we’re not enough without greater achievements or more impressive lives, but because we know what we’re capable of. We are capable of great things. Let us reach toward them, believing we can reach them, knowing that it is because we are loved and valuable and free that we can achieve our dreams.

We are capable of great things. Let us reach toward them, believing we can reach them, knowing that it is because we are loved and valuable and free that we can achieve our dreams.

 

 

Further reading:

An Anthem of Imperfection by Alia Joy, (in)courage

Loving Your Right-Now Life

I often find myself thinking I’ll be happier when I achieve certain things or change this or that. But there’s always something else that sneaks onto my list. It never ends.

And I’m pretty confident that I’m not the only one.

It’s easy to think that acquiring more things or achieving bigger goals will make us happier. And maybe they do. For a while, at least. Until some other shiny thing catches our eye.

When is enough enough?

How do we get to a point where we can just love the lives we’re living right now?

I think we can start today. We can start right here, right now. Wherever that may be.

We don’t have to wait for tomorrow, next month, or next year. We don’t need more money, better jobs, bigger homes, or more impressive lives to flaunt on social media. We just need contentment. We need to be grateful for what we have and see the emptiness of continually chasing after what we don’t have.

If we don’t put a stop to it, we’ll find ourselves in a never-ending chase. We will never be satisfied. We’ll keep pursuing one thing after another, hoping the next one will bring us happiness, only to find that none of them can.

So, how do we find contentment? How do we satisfy ourselves?

We find ways to love our right-now lives. We pursue joy right now, right here. We don’t put off happiness until something else happens for us. There’s no guarantee that it will. The only way to really live abundant, wholehearted lives is to embrace the beauty of life as we know it today.

What can you love about your life right now? It’s easy to see the things you wish you could change, but I want to challenge you (and myself, too) to seek out and list the things that are going well.

Are you healthy? Are your family members healthy?

Do you get to spend time pursuing a hobby or favorite pastime, even just a little bit?

Do you have enough money to provide basic necessities (food, gasoline, mortgage/rent, utilities)?

Do you have access to a wide variety of entertainment options (Netflix, cable, books, music, podcasts, radio, movies in the theater)?

Are you in a season that will pass all too soon, one that you should savor and appreciate as long as it lasts?

Do you have a vehicle that safely gets you from point A to point B?

Do you have a solid community of people to support you and live life with you?

Are there moments of everyday beauty you can pause to enjoy? How about things like the sunset and sunrise, your child’s perfectly imperfect artwork, an adorable puppy, a gorgeous flower, a moment of quiet before the chaos of the day begins, a delicious meal, or a sweet conversation with a friend?

For me, loving my right-now life looks like being grateful for the job I do have instead of spending all my time dreaming about another one I might like more. It looks like investing in decorating and updating my current home. It looks like pouring into my friendships because I have the ability to do so right now without a family of my own to devote time to. It looks like being grateful for my safety after sitting in snowy traffic, because although I had to wait to get around a handful of car accidents, I wasn’t a part of any of them.

What things do you love about your right-now life? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

 

Image source: Artem Kovalev, unsplash.com

You Can’t Be Good at Everything

I have a bad habit of avoiding things I know I’m not good at, or strongly suspect I wouldn’t be good at. I don’t like to look foolish or feel incompetent. I enjoy doing things that I’m better at.

While I don’t think this tendency is uncommon, I’m not convinced it’s healthy.

I know I can’t realistically be good at everything, but I think I subconsciously want to be. I would love to be great at everything.

But that isn’t realistic. I don’t have the natural aptitude for some things (ahem, organized sports), or the time and effort required to hone other skills I might be otherwise able to pursue (speaking another language, playing piano).

I have limited time and energy. I can’t work hard enough or long enough to be good at everything. I have to pick and choose what I want to invest in, which means letting go of some things in order to pursue others.

And that’s okay. That’s what makes me, me.

And the things you’re good at are the things that make you, you.

Of course, we can work to gain new skills— and we should. There are things that would make doing our jobs easier or managing our families smoother or simply living life better. But we don’t have to do it all. We can choose which things we’re going to support and invest in, which ones we’re going to let others do for us, and which ones we’re going to let go.

But we don’t have to do it all. We can choose which things we’re going to support and invest in, which ones we’re going to let others do for us, and which ones we’re going to let go of completely.

There are tons of resources and services for things like meal planning, meal deliveries, mail-order prescriptions, subscription services for makeup, food, clothing, and more. If those aren’t things that you enjoy doing, or things that you’re not particularly good at, you can choose to let someone else take care of it for you.

I personally like grocery shopping and cooking, and I highly value having a clean home. But I’m choosing to not worry about the fact that I don’t know how to do home improvement tasks or car repairs myself or the fact that I don’t use Twitter. Those things just aren’t me. And that’s okay.

There are things that I would like to eventually learn (like watercoloring and better bicycling skills), but I’m giving myself permission to not stress about them. Maybe one day I’ll get there. Maybe I won’t. Either way, it’s not the end of the world.

For now, I’ll stick to things that I really enjoy, whether I’m good at them or not. And I won’t waste my time trying to be anything I’m not. I’ll let others be good at what they’re good at and do my best to squash the voice of comparison telling me I have to compete to be the best at everything.

 

What things do you love doing? What things are you choosing to not do? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

 

Image source: Steinar Engeland, https://unsplash.com

On Loving the Ordinary

It hardly makes our Instagram feeds or Facebook pages, but we spend most of our time living in the in-between, the ordinary, the mundane moments of life.

We trudge through our work weeks to get a break on the weekends.

We plow through the day to celebrate and kick back at night.

But what about the time in between? Do the moments and days between the big moments count for anything?

In them, we work, manage our households, provide for ourselves and our families, build friendships, create a life for ourselves, and try to keep all our ducks in a row. Those are the days filled with washing dishes, cooking dinner, packing lunches, washing laundry, mopping floors, wiping runny noses, reading bedtime stories, filing reports, checking emails, and running errands.

They are the ordinary days, the regular rhythms of our lives.

We don’t give these regular spaces much value but view them as the mindless path to the more important and productive times in our day. But more and more I see that these routines, chores and daily times of transition are the liminal spaces where we can meet God.

We need not separate the sacred from the ordinary, the “quiet times” and church attendance from our vacuuming and showering. Jesus showed up with a body that ate, slept, walked, built, taught. He told life-changing stories in fields and by mountains, shared truth around tables and while he washed feet. He listened and obeyed the Spirit at every small turn, trusting in the Father to accomplish His will through Him, step by step, person by person, meal by meal. – Aimee Kollmansberger

Did you catch that? We don’t have to separate the sacred from the ordinary. Every moment is sacred. Especially when you consider we don’t know how many more we’ll have.

There is beauty in a well-made meal, time spent with friends and family, a quiet evening alone, a project well done, a quick break to breathe deep, a brief message to encourage a friend, a doodle, a good book, art, and anything that makes us laugh.

We belittle the small moments when we discount their ability to bring us joy. When we rush through them toward the few and far between big things, we don’t do the small moments justice.

They provide the safety and predictability of rhythm when other things get too chaotic. And the simplicity and beauty of them hold so much beauty and joy.

They are the very things that keep us grounded. They fill up our lives in seemingly small ways, but when we look back, we’ll see that they were everything. They’re our normal, our solid ground, our home base.

We could be living lives that are more consistently joyful if we took just a moment to pause and realize the amazing potential our daily lives have for bringing us joy in seemingly small but noticeable ways.

 

Further reading:

On Finding God in the Pots and Pans by