Fearfully Made? Who, Me?

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”                      Psalm 139:14

At my women’s Bible study last night, we talked about how creative God is, and that He made us to be creative, too. When I asked the group to write down a couple of their gifts though, some seemed hesitant. They said it seemed like boasting to talk about their own gifts.

Do you ever feel that way? I can relate.

It’s definitely easier for me to notice another person’s gifts and talents than it is to focus on mine. It is much more comfortable for me to recognize others than to get noticed myself. Why? Well, I think the concern about boasting is one reason. There’s a second, less noble reason – I’ve had trouble accepting the gifts I’ve been given.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve often compared myself to others. The habit started early on the elementary school playground, and over the years got rooted in my spirit. I used comparison as a way to measure myself: Gail can jump rope really well, so I should be able to.

The tragedy of thinking that way is not only how much pressure we put on ourselves, but how we discount our own abilities in the process. I was so intent on copying someone else that I lost track of my own unique set of talents and gifts. Though I didn’t have the athletic skills to jump rope like Gail, I could write and perform little skits for our class that she enjoyed, for example.

In Psalm 139, David gives us “inner comparers” a healthier way of looking at ourselves. His words seemed very bold to me at first, “fearfully and wonderfully made.” As if that weren’t enough to challenge us, David goes on to say that God’s “works are wonderful.” He means each of us!

Naming our gifts doesn’t have to lead to big ego trips. And it doesn’t mean settling for less than what someone else has. I’ve come to believe that God intended me and you to accept, celebrate, and use our own unique set of talents. I don’t want to insult the One who created me by dismissing how He made me. How about you?

 

When It’s Hard To Just Be Myself

I read a great post on the TheSeeds4Life blog, “Use What Talent You Possess” (November 7, 2015). It challenged us to “imagine a world where only the best in a certain area of interest were allowed to contribute.”  The post went on to argue that we all really do have a right to add our voices to the mix, whatever the level of ability or polish.

The blog also talked about our tendency to compare our work to someone else’s best work, and how we often hold ourselves back out of fear of being judged as inferior. The author encourages us to stop worrying about impressing the world, and to try and impact it for the better instead.

When I pictured that world of limiting thoughts, my first reaction was how discouraging it sounded. Negative beliefs like those lead us to immediately discount ourselves. We’ll always see our own unique talents, perspectives and ideas as less important than others. And what are we left with then? Trying to copy whatever has been named “the best”, working hard to reach some external ideal.

My second reaction was to recognize these beliefs in my own heart. I’ve not only had them, but for many years lived by them. For most of my life, I had a push-pull inside me of wanting to both express and hide my true self. The desire to embrace who I am warred with the wish to be just like everyone else.

As a result, I felt an odd mix of shame and frustration.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with me looking at the accomplishments of others as a source of inspiration, or a way to learn more about an area of interest. It’s when I expect myself to measure up to anyone else, especially if they are more skilled than I am, that I dismiss the special contribution I could make as I am right now.

I want to be free to create and offer my best to the world, whatever that is. Are you with me?