I’ve been going through the Restless study with some local friends. I’ve wanted to do it for a while and this time I made it work. Never mind that I should be home making sure my kids get their school work done and I’m already doing a different Bible study during the week. It was probably ill-advised to join, but I did it anyway.
I’d like to take a step back and marvel at that last sentence: “It was probably ill-advised, but I did it anyway.” I kind of love that right now. I should make t-shirts.
This week’s assignment was to take a close look at our past and the things we did that gave us pleasure. There was one column to write down what it was that we enjoyed doing for each age range and another column to explain why. I sat and stared at the blank grid. I couldn’t think of anything to write. The things that came to mind felt stupid. I wanted to cry.
I wrote down that I learned I could sing in the column about the age range 7-12. Did you know I can sing? I feel sort of stupid saying it. I don’t think I was made to make a living singing, but music has always brought me joy.
I have always enjoyed using words to encourage and inspire others. That also felt really stupid to share. I don’t know why I felt that way because, obviously, I enjoy writing. That’s why you’re reading these words right now.
I pressed on to the next project even though I was wondering if I could possibly be the first person to ever go through the Restless study and figure out that they really weren’t made for more. Project 2 gave some resources about finding strengths and gifts. That’s when I remembered I had taken the StrengthsFinder inventory several years ago. I dug through my files and found my top 5 things: Harmony, Communication, Maximizer, Responsibility, and Input.
I felt a glimmer of hope as I read over the descriptions. I was starting to believe that I did have some strengths.
I turned the page to the 3rd project. I need to admit that I put off finishing the homework and didn’t even get to this page until an hour before I needed to be out the door on the way to the Restless study. It was an assignment with a series of questions to ask a friend or family member to answer. I messaged my husband:
“Hey, Babe. I need your help with my study homework. When have you seen me operating in my sweet spot? What do you think I do well? In what way have you seen me grow and develop my gifts in the last few years? Have I helped you grow? How?
I will now dry my hair while you answer.
No pressure. I just need it before I leave in an hour.”
Was this part of his job? Maybe not, but since my husband’s team lead happens to be married to my Bible study leader, I thought I could interrupt him with 5 simple questions. 🙂 And I absolutely went and dried my hair after sending those questions to him!
I returned to my computer monitor to read Nathan’s responses to my questions. Everything he said pointed to things I had done or was currently doing that reinforced my StrengthsFinder results. The crazy thing about it all was that I was completely blind to these things being strengths until he pointed them out to me.
One of the things that I love doing, that I never once considered as I thought about my strengths, is connecting people. I love it. It gives me a high I can’t explain. Introduce me to a new person, and I will be working through in my head who I need to introduce them to. Tell me someone is having a hard time with something and I will find someone who can help them. Move into Middle Tennessee and I will show up on your doorstep (I’ve literally done this two times to people I’ve never met in person). I texted a friend two days ago that I knew of someone who needed a mentor and asked if she could help. I messaged a college friend, yesterday, when I discovered she lived in my in-laws new hometown, and asked if she would pop over and say, “hello”.
And yet, while I was trying to figure out what I was good at or what gave me joy, I drew a complete blank. In fact, I probably walked away from my homework yesterday to message my college roommate about meeting up with my father-in-law.
Isn’t it crazy how we can’t see our own strengths clearly? It took an outside perspective to point out the obvious.
I’ve figured out that my theme has been to connect people to resources to help them grow. So, you’re going to have to forgive me when I suggest that you pick up the book or study yourself. It’s my thing. I can’t help myself 🙂
Have you done the Restless study? Did you learn anything about yourself you didn’t know before? Have you ever asked a friend or family member to help identify your strengths?