I believe everyone is born with a set of personality characteristics hardwired into their beings. And, depending on what those characteristics are and how you look at them, you might even call them strengths. If a particular strength really shines—if you’re a child who naturally leads or delegates often, you might be considered bossy. Your parents then spend your formative years trying to get you to not be so bossy and then as you become older you might start trying to not be so bossy and do everything yourself to prove that indeed you are not bossy and before you know it you feel sort of miserable and you don’t quite know why. But at least you’re well rounded, right?
In my case, I am hard-wired to be a just-go-for- it-type gal (in addition to bossy??) and over the years I’ve really tried to move toward a more measured or cautious approach. And for many major life decisions this has served me well. But I am wondering, have I taken on too much of that cautiousness to the degree that I am forsaking myself? Why don’t I enter a crowd and naturally navigate the situation without hesitating anymore? Why do I try to hide my salivation when the opportunity to lead something brand new comes around?
I think there is a point where personal growth needs to be directed toward becoming more of who God created me to be, rather than becoming more of who I naturally am not. As parents we could help our children discover the appropriate and inappropriate times to let their “strengths” shine instead of trying to subtly bury those qualities over time. And then as adults we might not have to wrestle so much with ourselves and questions like, “What am I good at, anyways?” and “Why do I feel so unfulfilled?” Sometimes it’s a matter of self recovery.
For me, I know I need to recover, uncover and in some cases dig out some of my natural self which I have viewed as a hindrance and see it as a blessing. Ultimately, I am much better off in life and work when I accept myself entirely, both my strengths and my weaknesses (which are often the same thing). When I build on my strengths and use them appropriately it reveals to me my own limitations which in turn point me toward depending on other people and depending on their strengths. Using my own strengths to their fullest extent uncovers my naturally-wired, God-given need for community, not individualism. (After all, being bossy takes someone to boss, right?) Leveraging my own strengths enhances my desire for relationship, and increases my appreciation of the strengths others bring to the table.
So to the degree that we’ve spent any energy on making ourselves well-rounded to the point of losing sight of some of our natural brilliance, we would benefit greatly by opening ourselves up to some self re- or un-covery. In that way, we will find ourselves and even find ourselves living vigorously and within healthier, more vibrant relationships.