A little over a year ago we took a “strength finder” test at work.
Everyone was asked to answer a number of questions in 30 seconds or less by choosing an answer that best fit them on a sliding scale. This was much trickier than it sounds. For example, one question asked, “Do you pick the perfect gift for each friend?” We could chose from “Very much so”, “Yes”, “neutral”, “No”, or “Not at all”.
Now this appears to be a simple question, but when you know your answer could potentially sway the algorithm for the entire test … it’s a lot of pressure!!! Two out of my top five strengths were “achiever” (note my strange desire to do “well” on a test that is impossible to do poorly on) and “responsibility”, not a surprise for anyone that knows me. When it comes to life, as I’ve said before, I am a “doer”.
Also, side note. I did have a slight period of sadness following the delivery of my results. I wanted so badly to possess some of the other more … fun … strengths. I mean, come on! How boring are achiever and responsibility. I digress.
Growing up, I was one incredibly outgoing, forward moving, party planning, social butterfly. Even after graduating high school, it was straight into college and right into the first real serious romantic relationship of my life. Five incredibly long years, a college degree, plenty of heartache and a lot of spiritual disobedience later, I was left at square one and very much alone. I didn’t think it was possible to regress so much emotionally, but in looking back at where I was immediately following a messy breakup, which included a large shift in my friend group, it’s clear to see:
I was broken.
Fast forward two and a half years (yes ladies, there is life after heartbreak), and I’ve come a long way. I’ve discovered, over the course of two years, while I’d moved on emotionally, I was left at baseline in many other facets of my life. In some ways I felt stunted: spiritually, socially, in ways of self-love and self-image, and relationally with the people around me.
Somewhere along the way, I had become an incredibly sarcastic, abrasive individual who was hard to approach, constantly pushing back, defensive and who (I felt) was very hard to love. I was distant from Jesus, although I had come back just enough to use Him to pull me out of post-break-up hell, though it was with no sacrifice on my part at all. All take, no give.
Something needed to change.
I am a professional list maker. I love lists! I love crossing things off lists! My phone is full of my schedule. Little reminders pop up throughout the day so I don’t lose my mind and forget to switch my laundry over from the washer to the dryer or to return an email for work. So, I decided I needed to take something that I was good at “doing” and turn it into “being”.
What if, instead of focusing on my to-do lists, I could create a to-be list?
I decided to do just that. After a lot of prayer, I chose some qualities that I felt called to have as a woman of God, future wife, friend, daughter and sister. Then, I created reminders in my phone that would pop up at a certain time. Nothing too crazy … just one per day.
Galatians 5:22-23 lists our some pretty great things to aim for in the form of the fruit of the spirit. It says, “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
I started simple. Love. I could remind myself to love someone? Well, what is love?
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
8:00 a.m. Be Patient.*
*Just a side note, be careful when you pray for patience! My prayer resulted in a walk through a downpour, an hour-long line at the post office (which included changing packages on the floor in front of the counter) and hitting every red light on the way to work. God answers prayers.
Overall, it’s been an amazing lesson for me. Practice gentleness, practice being joyful, practice goodness. It’s a practice that I fall in and out of, but it’s a wonderful and sometimes surprising reminder that pops up at different times throughout my day, just to remind me how to be more like Jesus. Some days it’s harder than others, but I recommend it.
Here’s how to do it!
➤ Pick a verse (maybe start with the Fruit of the Spirit!) that you especially enjoy. I started with love, because I’m not great always great at loving people well!
➤ Choose 2-4 qualities in the verse that you’d like to see in your own life.
➤ Pop those bad boys right in your calendar. Put one a day, two if you’re feeling brave, and change up the times so you’ll get the reminder when you don’t expect it.
➤ Wait until those reminders show up! It is a pretty great thing to be able to take one minute in the middle of what could be a very hectic day to refocus on our Heavenly Father. Take a breath, say a prayer and move forward, more present and more aware of the person you are for the people around you!