Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Get the picture?

Several years ago I decided to go the extra mile and do the one task that would officially make me "Super-Wife." You know the one I'm talking about. The thing your grandma might have done with ease and simplicity, between washing the clothes by hand and darning the socks. Yes, I decided to make my husband a Christmas stocking. With great enthusiasm I headed out to my local hobby supply store to buy a stocking kit. There were dozens to choose from, but I found the perfect one eventually. I headed straight home, sure that I would be finished in a few hours. (Those of you who have tried this before are snickering already!) I expected to open the package and find a felt Christmas tree, sequined ornaments, and a beautiful golden star, each ready to be sewn onto a ready-made felt stocking. Instead, what I found was a stack of large felt squares numbered with 256 tiny shapes to be cut out, 5000 sequins, and at least 200 yards of colored thread. In the very back of the package I found a folded paper containing cryptic instructions clearly intended for someone who knew embroidery and sewing terms. I had all of the materials I needed to make a masterpiece, and absolutely no idea what to do with them.
Girlfriend, do you know that you have come equipped with all of the tools to make your life a masterpiece? Unfortunately, you don't come with a step-by-step diagram of how to use them, or a picture of what the end product will look like. I recently read a book by Max Lucado that explains how to get a better idea of what materials (some might call them strengths) you have to work with. In it he described this simple exercise:
1. Think of times in your childhood, adolescence, and adulthood where you experienced success, and it was really meaningful to you. It may be something as simple as learning to blow a bubble with chewing gum, or as complex as helping two people you love overcome a conflict in their relationship. (Don't confuse successes with events, such as having a baby, getting married, etc) Try to think of 5-10 occasions for each of the three life stages listed.
2. Choose one of those successful occasions from each life stage that stands out the most to you. Write out the details of the event like a short story, being as descriptive as possible.
3. Look over the three stories you have written. Underline all of the words or phrases that involve action on your part. Now go back and circle the main subjects or topics in each story.
When you look over your underlined actions and circled subjects/topics you will probably find that there are common themes that run through all three of your stories. For example, perhaps all of them involve some kind of service or helpfulness to the people you love. Maybe you have a common theme of standing up for those who have been wronged. If you don't find any common themes, write out a few more of the stories from step 1. The materials you have been "packed" with WILL begin to be more evident. Over the next four weeks, we will uncover how to use these strengths, the things that make us tick, in various areas of our lives. Feel free to post a comment below with questions or with a specific area of life (finances, relationships, health, etc) you would like to apply your strengths in. I hope you will take the time to do this simple exercise. After all, you are a masterpiece waiting to be revealed!