© 2011 by Renee Swope with Revell Publishing
Food for thought: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (Ps. 139:13 NIV))
I sat in the circle praying we’d run out of time before it was my turn. The facilitator of our team-building activity had asked our group to answer two questions: What do you love to do? If finances were unlimited and failure was impossible, what would be your dream?
I didn’t have any answers. But just in case I had to say something, I listened to everyone else describe their dreams, hoping to get ideas. One wanted to be the first female president of the United States. Another friend said she’d always wanted to sing in a Christian rock band. I knew I was in trouble.
I was thirty-two at the time and didn’t know who I was or what my dreams were. When everyone eventually looked to me for a response, I stumbled over my words. Then I finally admitted I didn’t really know what I loved to do.
Immediately self-doubt whispered, “That is because dreams are for confident people who have something special to offer, and you don’t.”
I’d never taken time to think about or answer those kinds of questions. Instead, I had tried to be who others wanted or needed me to be. But honestly, I wasn’t very good at it. I often had this uneasy feeling of just not being happy. And I was a constant candidate for burnout.
I realize now that I wasn’t living out the truth held in our key verse today: “[God] created my inmost being; [He] knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Ps. 139:13 NIV).
That day in the circle, after I fumbled around looking for an answer during team-building time, our facilitator encouraged me to ask God what His dreams were for my life. I took her advice and started the process of becoming the “real me” who had gotten buried in the busyness of life and people-pleasing.
As I read books that talked about discovering our passions, gifts, and personality traits, I started to identify what I liked. I recognized strengths that came natural for me, and learned what I needed emotionally to encourage my heart.
For the first time, I realized there was an important reason I was who I was—with my passionate preferences and mixed bag of emotions. Instead of wanting me to be like women I knew and admired, I sensed that God wanted to use the unique way He made me. And I started to discover that I did have something special to offer, after all.
Isn’t it easy to neglect ourselves to meet the needs of everyone around us, and call it self-sacrifice? It sounds godly. But in doing so we risk shutting down a place in our soul where God’s dreams and gifts are waiting to be revealed. The truth is: you and I were not designed to be whom others expect us to be, or even want us to be. We were created to become all that God planned for us to be.
So, how well do you know the real you? Have you ever taken time to think about what you like to do? What personality traits, abilities, or experiences do you have? What would make your heart come alive if you had the confidence and resources to do it?
Although it might feel self-seeking, it’s actually God-seeking to take time to get to know the woman He created you to be. Remember God had a plan in mind when He made you. He shaped you with purpose. When you surrender your unique passions, gifts, and personality to Him, God will use them to guide you toward His dreams for your life.
Lord, I want to know the woman You had in mind when You created my inmost being and knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful and I am one of them. I pray You would help me become the woman You created me to be. I don’t want to grow old and never know Your purpose for my life. Show me Your dreams for me so I can offer what You want to give to those around me. In Jesus’ name, Amen. (See Psalm 139:13–14)
Doubt Diet Tip: We all have a natural body shape. I’m shaped like a pear; always have been, always will be. In the same way God gives us a natural body shape physically, He also gives us a natural “body shape” spiritually, to equip us for His purpose in the body of Christ.
In chapter 8 of A Confident Heart, I share what happened next in this part of my journey and how God walked me (and now I can walk you) through process of discovering my SHAPE by showing me what makes me unique and gives me something special to offer those around me. One of the first steps was identifying my spiritual gifts. Here’s a FREE Spiritual Gifts Assessment I’ve downloaded for you to take so you can discover an important part of your God-given shape!
Let’s Talk: Do you ever feel like you don’t have anything special to offer? How did today’s devotion speak to your heart?
Please return to my website (if you’re reading this via email), then scroll to the bottom of today’s post and click on “Share Your Thoughts.” I can’t wait to read your comments and encourage one another!