When I’m getting to know a new friend, I ask about special interests or skills. Know what makes me sad? The times I see shoulders drop and hear, “Oh, I can’t do anything special.” And if I begin to list the qualities I see in her, often she gives me a surprised look and shakes her head.
I understand that struggle especially since some of my childhood relatives responded to my joy at having conquered a project with accusations I was bragging. So I quickly learned to downplay any new skill. But appreciating our good qualities isn’t the same as bragging about them. Yes, I understand low self-esteem and, on some days, proclaim that as my special realm. However, I also know that walking slump shouldered through life pleases the Enemy. After all, as long as we beat ourselves up, he doesn’t have to bother.
Thus, instead of thinking we can’t do anything well, let’s pretend we’re impartial talent scouts who list our skills, accomplishments, beliefs and character. So take a deep breath and dare to make your own list. In fact, have fun as you describe your abilities, achievements, curiosity about the world, and considerate treatment of others.
Beware, though, that too often we tend to disregard our own gifts and want the gifts of others. When I list my abilities, I struggle over the fact I can’t play the piano. After all, proper Christian women are musical, right? But as I concentrate on the things I can do instead of those I can’t, I get to list public speaking.
Judy struggled with listing what she could do, too. Finally, she wrote, “I can understand complicated dress patterns.” Understand? I’ll say! She can construct an outfit that rivals any designer creation. When I wear the things I’ve sewn, women smile graciously and say, “Oh, did you make that?”
If Alice were to show us her list, she’d lament it took her forever to put even one thing down because she was so busy thinking of the things she can’t do. When she finally talked herself into thinking of the things she can do, she listed “Give a great whistle.” Having freed herself from listing her definition of proper activities, she had fun pondering changing her car’s oil, making Southern spoon bread that calms her husband when he’s upset, cutting fancy paper dolls freehand for their daughters, and hanging wallpaper without getting impatient. That simple little list started her grinning, and from there she began feeling better about herself.
So let’s encourage ourselves by looking honestly at our own skills—and appreciating them. And whispering a sincere “Thank You, Lord!”