Monday, August 11, 2014

Embracing Your "Faults"

I am an Initiator. That's something I've learned about myself over the years.

A mentor-friend identified that in me early on: "You seem to be an Initiator -- you're good at getting things started up, like this drama ministry. I'm not an Initiator; I'm a Maintainer. I'm good at taking something someone else has started up and keeping it going long-term . . . tweaking as necessary, all that." At the time, I just chalked that up as an interesting observation about life; I wasn't sure that her description of me was accurate. Only after many years of adult life experience did I realize how right she was. I'm an Initiator. I get the ball rolling.

I'm not so good at Maintaining -- at keeping the ball rolling later. I get restless and want to move on. For years, I (and other significant people in my life) saw this as a fault. I'm such a quitter. I should be able to stick with something longer than I do. It took a long time to realize that this fault of mine was actually a flip-side of my strength . . . and that this strength is something to be valued. Not everybody can initiate things well, and it's a necessary task in the world.

This weekend was our SCA teacher's work retreat. We spent a good amount of time talking about this new high school we're starting up this fall with a Freshman class of five students. It was weird to me to hear other teachers talking about how daunting an idea it is, to start something this big from scratch. Weird because I am so darn excited about this I can hardly stand it!! This is me in my sweet spot! I love it! I have no illusions about the difficulties here; I know there will come a time (many times, probably) when things aren't going well and I am tired and aggravated and want to throw in the towel on the whole idea. But I expect I will have less of those moments than others will . . . and I expect that's one reason God placed me in this school For Such A Time As This.

It occurs to me that, of all the important and valuable things I need to teach my students in their four years of high school, this may be one of the most valuable: your biggest faults are often the flip-sides of your greatest strengths. That impulsiveness that always gets you into trouble? That's the negative side of the boldness God has planted in you, which He will use in a mighty way.

Your over-sensitivity that causes you to get your feelings hurt all the time? That's a gift God has given you to sense when others are hurting and to sympathize with them when the callous world won't.

Your bossy, demanding ways that turn people off and lose you friends? That's your leadership qualities getting out of hand.

Now, some of our faults are just sins that need to be eradicated. But more often than not, the personal qualities that cause the most problems in our lives are actually gifts that just need to be tamed and brought under control. And it's important that we recognize and value those gifts. Knowing I'm an Initiator doesn't mean I'm excused from situations that require me to maintain (I'm a wife and mother -- I have a household to maintain at all times). But it does mean that I don't feel like a failure in life when I'm struggling in that area. It also means that I can seek out positions where I am needed to do what I do well and feel good about that. God made me this way for a reason -- I have to choose to honor the way God made me rather than letting the world tell me I'm lacking somehow. And so do my students.

"Know thyself", Socrates advised us. I love these kids I'm teaching this fall. I can't wait to get to know them and help them know themselves.

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