Friday, August 16, 2013

Gifts God Gave to Me

Gifts God Gave To Me
Peggy K. Mack
August 16, 2013

Be true to yourself and discover the gifts God gave to you as a special creation of His.  Others may try to change you, to channel your energies for the sake of what they believe is a "better, improved, version" of who you are.  But think about this.  Those who struggle the hardest, who are the most adamant about changing us are doing it, not for our benefit, but for their own comfort.  And that, is the wrong reason to "help" someone.
The personality God gave us when we were born is there for a reason.

I remember a time, maybe 20 years into my marriage when I had accepted the fact that I was living in a marriage with the belief that "opposites do attract."  While that statement may often be true, I never thought to search out the theory of "opposites make for longlasting marriages".  I don't think that one exists though ours lasted 32 years.   You see the longer you live with someone totally opposite to you it becomes clear that everyday approaches to life's challenges are totally different.  To reach a unified goal one has to surrender or there is constant discussions and compromise.  Whatever the case, it is an exhausting process that can be achieved.  One way is to designate who makes what decisions on which issues and to share an overall, unified goal for the family.  That seemed to work well for us for decades.

 But a memory came back to me this morning of a time when I was in a counseling session with my, then husband, for the benefit of our middle school daughter who was struggling in all areas, it seemed.  We dutifully turned to the realm of counseling because both of our professions valued what counseling has to offer.  But in this session, somehow the conversation was diverted from our daughter and focused on me.  Out came the suggestion that as part of the solution for helping her, was for me to give up my joy in laughing and my love for bringing laughter to others.   So the next thing I remember, was a single session for me in which we thoroughly examined why I thought I used humor and when I first began to realize that others were entertained by me.  We got it down to those dreaded memories of childhood where psychologists love to tread.  Through those memories there was a sense that I was the baby of the family and the one who often diffused tense moments between my parents.  From there I grew to use humor to mask hurt some bully may have caused me in an embarrassing situation and over time learned that humor was my ally and could be a great tool for surviving uncomfortable situations.  I was given exercises on how to accept that was now a responsible, well respected family member and teacher and no longer needed to keep humor as a survival technique.

I stand amazed today that in my willingness to help our daughter, I chose to reprogram my behavior to reflect a different personality.  There were moments of shared joy with the family but our son seemed to be the new light of humor and source of joy.  I loved watching him gain everyone's attention and share the joy.  While that worked effectively, time ticked on and life continued. 

Somewhere in my 50s following the death of both of my parents, I found new solace in writing song lyrics for our bluegrass band and eventually began working on line with other songwriters with dreams.  Ten years into my writing, I met a friend from Canada and the two of us spent 10 days of working and touring Nashville.  I came away from that experience with a new found friend and an acute awareness.   I had been in Tennessee for ten days and had laughed and loved life.  I realized I had not heard the sound of my own laughter in probably five years!  I returned home with the realization I had changed over time.  Another eight years and many changes, and my marriage of 32 years had worn itself thin.  All efforts to revive it were tested and failed. 

Now five years into a new life I came to the realization that my former husband believed it was necessary for me to be altered to meet his needs of being somber and serious.  Laughter was more of a distraction or an embarrassment, I suppose, than anything he might find attractive in me.   So I succumbed to his wishes and the counselor's suggestions.

 I see now, I was wrong to give in so easily to changing myself.  If I had thought about it long enough or called my sister, I would have owned the knowledge that humor is what raised the two of us. It is part of who I am and a shadow of my Daddy and his wit.  We were blessed with the funniest of storytellers.  Our daddy could calm a storm with delightful stories from his childhood.  Even in his last months, while losing a battle with cancer, he charmed doctors, nurses and visitors with his humor. He knew how to touch hearts with his joy, positive attitude and humor.  Why would I silence my gift?

Now, in my sixties, my inner joy and sense of humor have returned.  You see, I now realize, my personality, my positive attitude, my joy in life is a gift from God.  God uses it through me to bring messages of encouragement and hope and love and joy.  To silence my joy was to literally smother my ability to maintain a positive attitude.   I was a bird with a broken wing.  Through God's love and the people he has placed in my life, I have survived and my wings are healed. 

Never let another person change the personality of who you have known since your childhood.  Take five minutes to close your eyes and see yourself in mental photographs: as a youngster,  a middle school child and a high school student.  Write down a list of five traits which you saw developing within you. Five traits that others remember about you and loved.  If that's difficult, do the exercise first for a sibling, then for yourself.

Make a promise to never surrender those personality traits.  They are a gift from God.  You are created by God and have a purpose in life and He works through your personality traits to touch others' lives.  Take the time to focus on your personality strengths and begin there in search of the gifts God has given you for others.

Who are you?  Take the time..........look and see .....write them down.......celebrate who you are......God has a plan for you.

A taste of Jerry Clower, God bless his funny soul!

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