If you have been following me, you might remember the survey I asked my closest friends to fill out for me. I knew I needed to check my Blind Spots so I could move forward. John Ortberg recommends this self-awareness — this becoming an expert on you. “Lack of self-awareness is a crippling handicap that no amount of talent can overcome”. Let me give a personal example. This week we are setting up for Vacation Bible School and I am somehow in charge of the whole shebang. I am not a master decorator. I do a fair job, but it is something that stresses me out and I tend to avoid or pass on to someone else. There wasn’t anyone to pass it on to, so I attempted to create a lion’s den:
Not bad for a start on my own! But it wasn’t what it could be. Finally someone who is more creative and enjoys decorating stepped in to help out, and this is the final result:
Decorating is a weakness for me. Weakness in this book is defined as “any activity that leaves you feeling weaker after you do it”. I think back to VBS last year when I was asked my one of my best friends to teach the preschool class. Of coure I said yes! Then things happened, and I ended up teaching the Bible Study class — not something I was comfortable with at first, but grew into. At the end of each night, I had taught the lesson four different times to over 100 kids, and I was pumped up and full of energy! By the end of the week, I wasn’t worn out and tired. It was amazing!
God will not only give you the skill required for the doors He opens, but He will also give you the interest to go with it. It is okay for me to walk away from the decorating part and take on another role! I get to turn to someone who enjoys the decorating and turn it over to them. Take a look at those you surround yourself with. What are their skills and talents and passions? How are they different from yours? How can you compliment each other? If you do a self assessment and realize those you are spending time with do not have the ability to move you to use your talents, or don’t encourage your passions, or don’t push you to be your best self, it’s high time to be around other people.
Opened doors are amazing and we should all want them, right? Sometimes, we don’t. Chapter 8 talks about reasons we are held back, and I think it’s important to take a quick look at these as a reminder to myself to not fall for them. John called this chapter the Jonah Complex and I love how he breaks it down using the story of Jonah.
- Fear. Gulp! I’m not sure about you, but I really used to hate facing fear and did whatever I could to avoid it. Then I was diagnosed with anxiety/OCD/Depression and it turns out the things I feared were also the things holding me back. It took a massive depressive episode to shake me awake and I stepped out of the fear zone. I purposefully did things that scared me BECAUSE they scared me. Guess what I discovered? Fear wasn’t killing me — staying “safe” was. Side note: I have no plans to face my fear of sharks no matter what my family does to try to help me with this one.
- Having other options. Sometimes options look better, make more money, bring more prestige. But, if you aren’t using the talents and passions you were given by God, you are going the wrong way and will end up wasting your life. Have you ever had a moment where you think to yourself, “How did I get here?” You got there by having too many options. George Elliott said, “It’s never too late to be what you should have been.”
- Blindness to the door. I’m guilty of this, but trying to do better. One of my favorite song by Jason Gray (With Every Act of Love) speaks to this beautifully. <iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/V4bB7BUxBbY” frameborder=”0″ allow=”autoplay; encrypted-media” allowfullscreen></iframe>
- Our sense of guilt or inadequacy. Need I say more? Just a reminder by John here, “God’s yes is louder than my no.” Always.
- Missed prayers. Growing up, I was always told that when life brings you to your knees, you should pray. Problem with this statement is if I’m praying when I’ve hit rock bottom, I’m behind. Asking for direction should come BEFORE I even think about beginning. Paul the apostle advises to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Sounds like a good plan to me!
- Lack of love. I was at a conference a few years ago where we were discussing difficult situations in teaching. The instructor said something that struck home: “It’s a heart issue, and the issue is your heart.” When I struggle with serving someone, it’s my heart that isn’t in the right place. I still have this problem, and I’ve found that it leads to pride, and that leads to a miserable existence. Being miserable leads me back to prayer which humbles me.
- Wrong view of God. He is a provider, He is compassionate, gracious, and He loves you! Not knowing this, not trusting this, not understanding this will hold you back. How we respond to God’s opened doors tells about our response to Him more than it tells the story of what we do. How are you going to respond?
Before you leave me today, leave me a commement about those times you felt the most alive. Did you have to step out and face a fear? Look beyond your To Do List and find a divine appointment? What makes you feel alive, adn what plans do you have to follow that passion?
Photo by Rosie Fraser on Unsplash