Give me strength

Have you ever done Strengthsfinder? If you haven’t, I highly recommend it, even if only to use it to justify your individual quirks as qualities to be celebrated. My top five strengths read like this:

  1. Positivity
  2. Empathy
  3. Woo
  4. Achiever
  5. Activator

Sounds okay right? Well at first glance its pretty cool, I have always been a glass full kind of girl, happy-go-lucky, bubbly, and outgoing, so positivity wasn’t a huge surprise. Woo? Well lets face it what woman doesn’t know how to use charm to add gentle persuasion to a conversation. Achiever? Yep, I am the girl with the lists that only feels like she has a productive day if said list has at least three lines crossed through it. Activator? I have two children who are fed, dressed, watered and delivered to school (mostly) on time. Enough said.

But Empathy. Yep, that one smacks me right between the eyes every time.

You see, my other strengths are all forward thinking, go getting, lets-live-life-to-the-full kind of strengths. They require decision, motion, action, all of which my energetic caffeine fuelled self is happy to deliver – after at least one cup of the aforementioned coffee.

But empathy? Well that is an inward feeling, heart sinking, conversation stopping strength. Empathy is feeling another person’s hurt, disappointment, anger and betrayal as if it is your own. It stops you in your tracks and demands you to be still, to look at it, to touch it, to hold it, to feel it.

And some days I wish I didn’t.

Some days I wish I was unable to feel the incredibly cruel twist of fate suffered by my loved ones. Sometime I wish I could not feel the searing pain of a knife going through their back, I wish I could not sense the unbearable weight of grief placed upon their shoulders. Sometimes I wish the tears didn’t fall from my eyes as I watched them welling in the eyes of others. Sometime I wish I could be objective and offer practical solutions rather than stifling my own outrage.

But I can’t. Because that is not how I am wired. And if I couldn’t feel, then I wouldn’t be able to act out of my anger to see justice, I wouldn’t be able to cover the wounds of betrayal with soothing words, I wouldn’t be able to replace the heartache with healing love.

Even Jesus empathised. He wept with Mary and Martha over the death of Lazarus, He was moved when He met Jairus who begged Jesus to heal his dying daughter, He sensed the pain of the widow burying her only son.

And because of His empathy, Jesus acted.

Because He was hurting, He brought healing.

We are all given gifts, ‘strengths’ if you will, by God. Some of us are born leaders, able to strategise at the drop of a hat, some can teach, bringing a subject alive like no other, some can host, some can illustrate, some can manage, some can counsel…. the list is endless.

I love that I am positive, I hope that I am fun to be around, that I woo in the nicest way and that I encourage and equip others as well as myself. But I think that these strengths only seek to support my most challenging and yet my most rewarding element; empathy. I can only operate in my strengths because of the strength I find in Jesus, and in Him my positivity will help others to look on the bright side, my woo will persuade them to lift their eyes to the King, and my achiever and activator elements will encourage and equip them on their journey, holding their hand every step of the way.

R x


Time to take out the trash

As a busy mom of two, it has never ceased to amaze me how quickly my bin gets full to the brim.

(Yes I realise this is probably a little gross, but bear with me on this, there is a valid point!)

With school runs, grocery shopping, laundry and a million other errands to fit in around keeping the house in a relative state of organised chaos and raising little children, it would seem that emptying my bin has become one of those tasks that I keep putting off. This largely because it is a grim job that involved handling stinky bin liners *gags* and almost always having to pick up a third of the contents that spills over the top or out of the split at the bottom of the overflowing bin liner in the process. I realise that if I just emptied it before it got quite so full then this chore would be far easier and dare I say more pleasant (if that is even possible), but when I get to the bin with two hands filled with dirty tissues, the contents of the breakfast bowl and empty wrappers I am far more inclined to simply squash the rubbish down to make room for more. Of course, its goes without saying that a bin that is not emptied often is usually fairly fragrant, and not in the welcoming cotton linen kind either.

Life can be a bit like a bin at time…. as women and mothers we take on other peoples troubles or ‘trash’ to help lighten their load and show that we care. This in itself is an admirable thing to do as we empathise with girlfriends and help them to work out their difficulties, but sometimes we take on so much and forget to empty our bin. If we don’t take out the trash so to speak, then we are left fermenting over bad attitudes, negative thoughts and stinking thinking which will affect our day to day lives. Negativity is like a cold, it is super easy to spread and will jump from conversation to conversation, clinging to each person and affecting their day too.

The devil loves it when we gossip, moan and whine about each other/our spouse/our family/our house/our job*  (*delete as appropriate.) He can simply sit back and watch us spread discontent and anger across our circles of influence so we must watch what we say and how we say it to everyone, so that a) we will be consistent and b) we do not contaminate everyone else with our own insecurities and issues. That is not to say that we shouldn’t share our thoughts and feelings, but there is a right place for us to take our trash so that we can be rid of our negativity without affecting others.

We can take any requests and petitions to God, no matter how big or small they seem, or whether they affect us directly or not. We can also carefully choose a trustworthy friend who can best advise and/or pray with us about our situation. When writing to the Thessalonian church, Paul states that we must never stop praying and praising God in all circumstances, therefore my advice is don’t let the trash bring you down, give it to God and put it out for the dustbin men to collect, because when things are looking down it to time to start looking up.