Born This Way

We are unique. Like a fingerprint, every one of us is different and distinct. That is the way God intended it to be. The problem is that we don’t always know what makes us unique and we try to do things that actually work against the way God created us.

What exactly am I talking about? I’m talking about our personality and temperament. This is your hard wiring. These are the things that no matter how hard you try; it is ingrained in your DNA.

For years I struggled with “who I was”. I wanted to be different than I was.
I thought contentment meant I needed to re invent myself and to become a better version of myself.

I did things the hard way. I took all my personality traits and characteristics and attempted to live in opposition to them. Big mistake. Huge.

I spent a good 10 or more years of my life being miserable. No matter what I tried, I failed. Not due to a lack of effort, but due to lack of understanding. I was swimming upstream in my own life. I was working against myself without knowing it.

How?

I was trying to live and be someone I was not created to be. I was working so hard at overcompensating for my weaknesses that I completely overlooked my strengths and gifts.

What does this look like? Here are a few examples from my life:

When I was 23 I took a job in sales because my family told me I am really good with people and that I would be successful. I hated my job because it required that I try to sell people something I didn’t think they really needed. Long story short….I quit my job.

When I was a new believer I tried to be like older women I knew and respected. I would try to be quiet, serious and soft spoken. When I failed I would berate and belittle myself for being too loud, opinionated and silly.

All through my 20’s and into my 30’s I regularly would hit the wall emotionally. I was in full time ministry and always surrounded by people. I would get to a point of no return and not understand how I got so depleted.

After becoming a mom, I would regularly get asked to work in the nursery at church. I would agree to out of guilt and obligation. I dreaded it but would beat myself up for not enjoying being with the babies in the nursery assuming that because I had a child that I had to love working with children.

All these examples show how I was at odds with myself and my natural personality and temperament.

Generally speaking there is not a whole lot you can do about your temperament.
It is how you are hardwired. You may be an outgoing, gregarious life of the party type, or you may be a homebody who prefers the company of books more than face-to-face conversation. You may have the patience of Job or you may have a short fuse.

Temperament can be managed, but generally speaking it is what defines your personality.

When we get to a place where we begin to work with our natural strengths and temperament rather than against it, we can start the process of getting comfortable in our own skin.

It is in this place of self – discovery that we find freedom. Freedom to be the men and women God created us to be.

When we become aware of what makes us unique, we can step into life and all the things it holds for us working from a position of strength rather than trying to overcompensate for our weaknesses. We cease our striving and we begin to thrive.

My process of becoming self – aware and embracing how I am hard wired started many years ago. Through my church I took some spiritual giftedness assessments and discussed the results with my pastor and some close friends. About the same time I began to explore returning to school. I used what I discovered about myself, my giftedness and my passions to help shape and inform what would become my calling.

I’ve included a couple of links below to some of the assessment tests I used during my discovery process. You can use these to help you get better acquainted with yourself.

How have you worked against your personality and temperament?

Meyers Briggs Personality Inventory

Strengths Finders 3.0

Spiritual Gifts Assessment

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11 thoughts on “Born This Way

  1. Sherry Meneley says:

    Awesome! I relate… too well.
    and this… “When I was a new believer I tried to be like older women I knew and respected. I would try to be quiet, serious and soft spoken. When I failed I would berate and belittle myself for being too loud, opinionated and silly”
    I SO GET THIS – YUP!
    Real good stuff Karen. Real good!

  2. melissa says:

    I like this, Karen! Work with your personality and your temperament, not against it. We are often told to go out of our “comfort zone.” This admonition can influence us in a negative way–to feel obligated us to go agaist who we are made to be (working in the nursery). My husband is a quiet engineer, not a gregarious teacher like me. He coaches boys to play baseball because he sees individuals in a crowd. He teaches on Sunday mornings with me. He took time to learn how to be with kids when he was in his 20s, and as he grew in his faith, he realized he has something to give –his spiritual gift of teaching. He often feels he is “out of his “comfort zone” but to others he looks like a natural. I have discovered that I see a crowd that needs to be drawn together, and I do not immediately “see individuals.” It is beautiful the way God has made us.

    Today am hurting because I cannot quiite get passed the pain I experienced over a year ago when a vice principal treated me in such a demoralizing manner. Although, I asked for the matter to be dealt with, it never was, so I have not worked at what was then my child’s school. As a result, I took a break from subbing last school year. It is frightening to me to return to classrom (new schools this year) and to believe I could do what I am truly good at: making a sub day a great day for kids when their teacher is gone.

    Pray for me today. Sometimes, I need a healing…to the tune of “Sometimes I get a feeling”

    • KAREN COOK says:

      Melissa – I am sorry that your heart is hurting over things that never were resolved. I pray that you know and are able to celebrate your gifts, abilities & things that make you unique as a woman, mom and teacher. Don’t give up on who you are and what you’ve been called to do. Love you friend 🙂

  3. christimarcotte says:

    What a gift to ourselves when we accept and begin to love the way that God made us. I took the Strengths Finders and was the only one on my team with “woo.” What a stupid name for a strength, I thought. I have learned, though, that when I am who I am (Popeye joke here), I am energized and fulfilled and able to give honor to the One who created me– unique and a little goofy! Thanks for the reminder. I don’t like working in the nursery, either! :o)

  4. Sharon says:

    This is something I have struggled with/questioned myself on a lot lately. And you hit the nail on the head for me with “The problem is that we don’t always know what makes us unique and we try to do things that actually work against the way God created us.” So I thank you for your inspiration and helpful tools/links to help me in my journey.

    • KAREN COOK says:

      You are very welcome Sharon. I’m so glad this was helpful. I hope you can be gracious with yourself as you embrace what is unique about you and allow God to move you into a place of self discovery and self acceptance. Grace & Peace….

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