My friend called me a transformer. “I see electricity shooting out of you like confetti. You have so much energy, and it lights up the room.” She also called me a cheerleader, energizing others so they are transformed. One of my “love languages” – the things which make me feel connected and motivate me – is verbal affirmation. As a corporate trainer, my boss and students frequently voice appreciation. As a writer who works alone on long-term projects, I’ve learned to fuel myself with work I enjoy and scriptural words of affirmation. Still, it feels terrific to be named a transformer. My driving purpose is to help people live in wisdom, understanding and power, connected to one another and to their Creator. It’s nice to be told that’s not simply a vision but a reality.
Humans like recognition. If you were raised to be suspicious or self-deprecating when given praise, you might still respond to a backhanded compliment such as, “Not bad.” A friend of mine gave his girlfriend a Valentine’s card addressed, “Bee Vomit,” instead of “Honey.” She felt special.
I received the “Transformer” title at the SHINE retreat this weekend. SHINE stands for Sisters Helping Intercede, Nurture and Excel. The women involved are true leaders who make an impact as therapists, social workers, writers, trainers, and anti-trafficking activists. We shared stories from our lives and steps we’ve taken to develop psychological and spiritual strength. We also shared current challenges and ideas for overcoming them, and we prayed for one another.
What makes these women successful? They work diligently toward their personal visions, for one thing. But there’s a saying, “Overwork makes Jane dull.” It can also make Jane grouchy, self-absorbed and resentful, in addition to freezing up her back, stooping her shoulders and raising her cortisone levels. Work alone doesn’t generate success. We have to let loose sometimes with ladies who make us stand taller.
Success tip: Schedule recurring time with fun, encouraging people.
Guided by Jennifer Owens, Meg Weinkauf and Sarah Soon, we each revealed our stories of discovering and living in our identities. Ironically, the pastor at Believer’s Church spoke of the same concept Sunday morning. “We treat identity as though it’s a Chinese buffet.” He might have been anticipating lunch, but his point was something we’d each discovered. We had all tried various identities to see if they fit. People told us who we were and what we were good for. Some of those things were degrading, others were optimistic but not aligned with our unique gifts. We became disfigured by trauma, perfectionism, or simply the feeling we weren’t enough and different would be better.
Have you ever played a role to please someone else?
Have you ever asked whether past traumas affected your perception of yourself or others?
Have you ever thought you’d be happy if only your physical self were different?
At some point, each of us gave our real selves a chance. It took time, removing the layers of costume, paint and bandages. We worked to forgive injuries and reject labels. We set down the anger, self-righteousness or bitterness which made us feel powerful but depleted our effectiveness. We examined our skills and gifts and explored the things which fired us up. We honestly assessed our limitations. If I’m not good at this, will improving my skill help me do what I love? If I’m not built that way, is changing it worthwhile? Will it help me achieve my true purpose, or is there something more deserving of my lifespan and resources?
Fill in the blank: When I ________, I feel alive!
Fill in the blank: When I ________, I feel I’m making life better for someone.
We replaced our false expectations with the belief our Creator made us intentionally unique, with the purpose of demonstrating His qualities and carrying His power into the lives of others. We each have favorite scriptures which remind us we don’t have to be like anyone else, and the important things we need to accomplish will be completed by God and not our own expertise.
Ephesians 2:10 NKJV 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Uncovering our unique identities, treating our injuries, and learning to believe we are loved by our Creator. Does this sound self-centered to you? Were you taught it was more valiant to subvert or ignore yourself and focus solely on others? Some of the SHINE group had been taught that as well.
Imagine you’re trying to remove a Philip’s head screw and I keep trying to hand you a hammer. Is that valiant? Am I serving you or frustrating both of us? I head home, completely dejected, believing I’m no good. I pass someone who’s trying to hang a picture, and it never occurs to me I’m holding the perfect tool. How about another example? Say I’m a transformer created to spread electricity, but I try to be a fire hydrant. I could cause more than frustration—I could injure someone.
It may take time, patience and counseling to uncover who you were created to be, but there is nothing more attractive than someone confident in who they are and how they can serve you. Women have this reputation for being jealous or catty. The women I met through SHINE are neither. They easily share what they see in one another, because it’s not a competition. They know their own value and don’t hesitate to collaborate when someone else has the right tool. Do you know anyone like that?
Colossians 1:9b-12 ERV God will make you completely sure of what he wants by giving you all the wisdom and spiritual understanding you need; 10 this will help you live in a way that brings honor to the Lord and pleases him in every way; your life will produce good works of every kind and you will grow in your knowledge of God[b]; 11 God will strengthen you with his own great power, so that you will be patient and not give up when troubles come. Then you will be happy 12 and give thanks to the Father.
Are you feeling insecure, inadequate or incongruent with who you know yourself to be? You might enjoy the following resources:
Take Jennifer Owens’ course, Diamonds: God’s Gems of Truth
Make the shift to congruent living with these tips.