Own It

Own It

We all have flaws. We all have not so good personality traits. We have things about us that people love and then things about us that drive people insane. There’s no way around it. No point in denying it. There are things within each and everyone of us that we could be better at. Sometimes we are aware of those things. Other times we may not know that others perceive us a certain way or that we even have that personality trait.

Maybe you’ve heard something about yourself and thought that’s so not me. Or maybe someone has said something to you about your personality and you thought they were being rude but upon deeper reflection you realized that what they were saying was true. I’ve been told I’m too sensitive. And I’m like what does that mean? I’m allowed to have feelings. And I am but what was meant was I take too many things personally. I’ve been told I’m gullible or a pushover. It’s been said to me that I’m consistently cranky and irritable in the morning and that whatever I’m feeling in the moment is all over my face. I’ve been known to be easily irritated. And you know what? All of these things are true!

But when people say these things to us initially our first response is to either be hurt (because who wants to hear negative things about themselves?!) or to be frustrated with the person who said it to us. If people never brought these things to our attention we wouldn’t learn and grow into better individuals. So here’s what you have to do….own it.

Accept the fact that sometimes you’re rude and cut people off in the middle of talking. Accept the fact that you’re controlling. Accept the fact that you’re a know it all. Accept the fact that sometimes you lie and your friends know it. Accept the fact that sometimes you’re a little whiny. Accept the fact that you tend to make things all about yourself. Accept the fact that you’re inconsistent and often cancel plans. Accept that you’re petty. Upon self reflection when you find the things that people say about you to be accurate, accept it; own it. It’s your best chance at improving.

And you know what else I’ve discovered? Once you own it when people say it to you again or you find yourself in a situation and someone makes that comment if you respond back “I know” it doesn’t sting so bad or at all. It may not even bother you anymore. And if the person has ill intent in telling you it takes away their power to see you hurt or frustrated. We are all a work in progress. Not one of us is perfect. Sometimes God places people in our lives to help us deal with things that we aren’t aware of or are aware of and we aren’t listening to the Holy Spirit convicting us. Those things that people have said to me about myself I’ve intentionally worked on, not that they are now non existent, but I’ve grown significantly because I made the choice to improve.

So learn to accept the whole person that you are not just the great qualities. Own the fact that you’re a work in progress and when you do you’ll be at more peace with yourself and those around you. And having all of these flaws doesn’t make you any less of a person. You’re still great! But not dealing with them can hinder you from walking into the greatest blessings of your life. So examine the things you need to work on, own them and then continue being fabulously flawed and owning it you!

What Have You Invested?

What Have You Invested?

I’ve always been the type of person that likes to help or wants to be supportive of those in my life. It’s my way of showing love. Took me a long time to understand that about myself. I’m not into recognition or props. Just a thank you is fine. But it gives me great pleasure to be there for the ones that I love.

I’ve invested a lot of personal time and energy going above and beyond to help the people God has placed in my life. I’ve gone to kids programs or events in place of parents that can’t be there or I’ve gone just to show support. I’ve picked peoples kids up from school, or practice or other events. Or taken them to school or practice or other events. I’ve shown up to parties early and helped set up. I’ve stayed late to help clean up. When someone has been ill or hurt I’ve checked on them, stopped by their home, gone to the hospital and sat with them or held their hand while they were going through something uncomfortable or painful. I’ve made gift baskets for people who were in the hospital, released from the hospital or at home on bed rest and couldn’t come out. I’ve made a meal or dessert for someone who needed it or asked someone over for dinner because I knew they hadn’t had a home cooked meal and didn’t have money to keep eating out. I have had the pleasure of driving a friend early in the morning for an outpatient procedure, waiting for them then driving them home and making sure they were ok. I say pleasure because someone has done the exact same thing for me so I was blessed to be able to do it for someone else.

I’m not saying all of these things to boast or brag about myself but to bring to light that we often complain about what people don’t do for us or how they don’t help us but what are we putting out? What are we giving? What are we investing? I remember early on in my path of growing and learning to serve Christ I didn’t work and so I didn’t really have money to sow. I thought that this was the only way to give and often felt bad or like I wouldn’t be blessed because I couldn’t give financially. Thank God I learned that sowing a financial seed in church or blessing someone financially is not the only way to sow! Giving your time and sacrificing personal things you could be doing elsewhere is a form of sowing. That’s why we are encouraged to volunteer at church.

I have learned that what I’m expecting others to do for me I have to be willing in some part to do those same things for other people. We can’t constantly place expectations on others and we are not willing to do those same things or similar things to help someone else. One day we may fall ill and be bed ridden or need someone to pick our kids up from school but we’ve never taken the opportunities presented to do the same for others. It doesn’t mean that you go against what boundaries you have set up for your life and put yourself in situations where you’re taken advantage of. It also doesn’t mean it’s ok to always be doing something for that one person but they’re never there for you. But it does mean if you’ve got a sick friend check on them if you want someone to at some point check on you. If you’re complaining about that coworker that never offers to help when you have something big going on, take a step back and ask yourself when’s the last time you’ve done the same thing for someone else? I know sometimes certain things are out of our comfort zone and I shared a post about staying in our lane, working our strengths. Sowing time isn’t limited to just what we’re great at. Sometimes the sowing of our time could be sitting with a friends kids while she goes to the doctor or showing up just to sit with someone who’s having a tough time. And keep in mind that the same person you helped may not be the person who brings you the return on your investment! God may send it through someone else that you weren’t even expecting.

We often place expectations on those around us but fail to acknowledge the other ways they show up in our lives. We might help someone paint their home and then when it’s time to paint our home they don’t help with that but they ordered pizza and fed everyone for the night. Instead of being grateful for that we will complain that they didn’t help us paint not one time. Well maybe they suck at painting! Or maybe they’ve got a sick child at home and couldn’t invest time painting but still wanted to be helpful. So either you take the real blessing of pizza or you let them paint and then you’ll be wishing for them to take their painting “blessing” back. We have to learn to stop trying to choose how those in our lives want to bless us and accept the blessings that they’re giving from the heart. I don’t know about you but I prefer the heart filled blessings! And if you had a whole bunch of people show up to help you paint there’s the return on your painting investment so why did you need that person anyway? But you needed food and so that’s what God placed on that persons heart.

So I want to encourage you to not only take the opportunities God presents you to bless those around you, but to also take a good look at what you’re investing in before you complain about what someone’s not doing for you. It’s so easy for us to look at what those closest to us do not do or what we feel like they don’t do enough of. But take a look at the person as a whole and remind yourself of the other ways they’ve invested in you. Then when you find yourself on the brink of making a list complaining about what they don’t do (which I’ve learned that complaining is a sin and communicates to God that you don’t think He knows what He’s doing-or don’t appreciate what He’s doing….so we need to get our ungratefulness in check!) ask yourself what seeds have you sown lately or at all…..

You Are Valuable

One of the best memories I have to this day is when I worked at the shoe store The Finish Line. I came in at 17 years old as a cashier and eventually became the head cashier. There wasn’t anything I didn’t know about the system. I could trouble shoot and work my way around certain issues. I learned how to find the reports needed by management. So much so other stores came to know how well I knew my job and managers would call to ask me questions with things that they needed help with.

Not only did I know how to do my job well, I knew a little bit about every area of the company. One thing I learned from the managers I trained under is even though you may not have all the answers, you should be able to answer basic questions about the company and the different areas within the company. You should know who to tell customers to talk to or how to help customers resolve basic issues. I took that with me to every job I worked after that. I always made sure to keep myself informed.

By the time I turned 19 I was asked to be an assistant manager. Not just by my boss, but my regional manager, who was a step above my district manager, specifically stated that he thought I’d make a fantastic assistant manager. It was a big deal! I was hesitant but eventually accepted. You have to pass a test so to speak to get keys to the store as a manager. You can be promoted to assistant manager or an MIT (manager in training) but you can’t work alone and close the store if you don’t have keys that give you access to do several things within the facility. You have to run the floor for a full day (9am-9pm) successfully to earn your keys. This means handling employees, shift changes, making sure every area was covered, ensuring employees are meeting their goals, delegating, customer complaints/issues, opening and closing the store, etc. You had to do this on your own all day while a senior manager evaluated you. They would then report back to your manager and the district manager and you’d learn whether you passed because you’d get keys.

This is a lot of work and trust for an organization to put into any employee. Yet alone a 19 year old. But those people around me saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. They saw my value. They recognized that I was an asset to the company and they wanted to ensure that they not only kept me as an asset, but also wanted to nurture and grow my worth as an asset by teaching me, encouraging me, and training me to be the best that I could be. Because of this I was one of the best assistant managers in my district. Managers wanted me at their store.

My district manager, Bruce, further recognized my value. Whenever he came in to check in on our store or to evaluate our store he always, always made a point to take me out for ice cream and just talk to me about my thoughts, the store, my goals within the organization. He treated me, not like I was some 19 year old kid filling a space needed in an organization, but like I was a valuable tool in the organizations success. Because of that I worked harder and made it a point to ensure I represented the company well.

You’re just as valuable. Maybe someone hasn’t told you lately. Maybe you feel like you don’t contribute much to your job or your family or your friendships but you do. Maybe you don’t think that certain thing you do at work is noticeable. You’re doing it to be nice or you’re doing it to ensure things run more smoothly but day in and day out you’re putting forth your best effort. Someone has noticed and when you aren’t around to do that certain thing at work the value that you bring to it is missed.

Don’t discredit yourself because someone hasn’t confirmed your significance. In due time all of the work and effort you are putting into your job or your friendships or your family will began to produce fruit. God sees all that you do and all that you are. He has a way of recognizing and reminding you of your worth and there’s no one better at doing it than Him. At one point in my life I was struggling with my self worth and God sent someone to be with a brand new coach purse (at the time almost every purse I owned was a Walmart purse-nothing wrong with that) but I didn’t think I was worth much. Certainly not worth owning an expensive purse that I never would have bought for myself. I didn’t think I even deserved it. But take away the focus on the name brand purse and focus on the value being brought to light. I didn’t think I was worth much and God was reminding me that you’re worthy and valuable-just like this purse. He’ll do the same for you. So walk in confidence knowing that you are treasured not just to those around you but to God. He values and adores you!

Focus on Your Strengths

Focus on Your Strengths

I like to help with everything! If I learned nothing else about being a military spouse I learned to be self-sufficient. Moving around to different places where you don’t know people and having to figure out certain things on your own will teach you a lot. Having a spouse be gone for 6, 9, 12, or 15 months at a time will definitely push you out of your comfort zone and require you to learn how to do a little bit of everything.

Because of this, my friends used to call me a jack of all trades. I can assemble furniture, fix things, rearrange a house without any assistance, fix computer issues, cut the grass, type an English paper for school, clear up a credit report-the list could go on and on. Now I can do all of these things and do a pretty good job but never really master anything. And for a while that’s how I operated. Always doing something but never really tapping into the thing that I was meant to excel at.

When I first started volunteering at church I assisted in many different areas of ministry. I volunteered in the office helping different Pastors and staff members on a weekly basis. Any event that we had I signed up to help or would just ask Pastor’s assistant what time she needed me there and would be there from set up to clean up. I helped with women’s ministry. I assisted First Lady with things she needed help with. I was the director over the nursery department. Doing all of these different things was great at a time in my life where things were not going well at all. But many of them were not what I was strongest in.

I remember one day having a conversation with my First Lady, who’s also my spiritual mother, and she said “Candle, sometimes we have to learn to stay in our lane. It’s good to help with things and to be a servant. But you can’t do everything and you shouldn’t do everything. Do what you are best at. God wants our best and if we are busy doing everything then we can’t perfect anything. So what have we accomplished? We also have to keep in mind that if we have one person doing everything then we can’t make room for other people to serve in ministry and do what God’s called them to do.”

At the time I didn’t really understand it. I’m thinking “Well I like helping. I like being involved so shouldn’t I be involved?” The answer is yes and no. Have you ever seen a person running around all the time? You see them doing all these different tasks but the tasks are never quite completed or they’re half done? The work they’ve completed doesn’t look so good and someone is having to go behind them to fix what they’ve sort of done. Then this same person is tired, burned out, irritated, frustrated and instead of motivating those around them they’re actually discouraging them unintentionally to not want to help or be involved with whatever the project is. This is why you can’t and shouldn’t do everything. This is the no part to the shouldn’t I be involved question.

On the other side of the spectrum, have you seen a person working or volunteering in one specific area or one specific department and they’re busy but they’re smiling, efficient, completing tasks, responding to others in a timely manner, whatever they are working on looks great? Watching this person inspires you and makes you want to focus on what makes you excel or feel productive. This is why you should stay in your lane and focus on your strengths. This is the yes part. It’s not that it’s wrong to occasionally want to help or be involved in something that you’re not strong in or great at. Sometimes working in different areas shows us what we don’t want to do in life, teaches us to appreciate those who do operate in that area, or helps us learn and grow as a person in general. However, trying to do everything BUT what you’re best at causes unneeded stress in your life. It also takes away from the time you could be putting into being a better artist, singer, writer, motivational speaker, assistant, business person or whatever your calling is.

Months later after having the conversation with First Lady it sunk in for me. And now I don’t have a problem helping when I can but I also don’t insert myself into areas that are not what I’m strongest in. I want to actually help not be apart of something looking like I’m helping with a team of people going behind me fixing what I “helped” with. That’s how people stop asking you to “help” lol. So find what you are great at and well, go be great at it!