Last week was Abby's first parent-teacher conference. My one question for her teacher was how my shy daughter was adjusting to the social complexities of kindergarten. "Well," her teacher replied, "she has grown a lot over the past few months. Just today, we read a book about a shy bug, and I asked the kids - who knows what "shy" means? Abby raised her hand, and gave an excellent definition." Defining our own weaknesses is pretty easy to do.
Later, I was talking with John about Abby, and he made an interesting observation - she is a girl of deep caring emotions, and can easily have her feelings hurt. She guards herself carefully to avoid being hurt. However, she also shows remarkable kindness and tenderness to other kids, babies, and her little sister. The tender heart that makes her struggle with shyness is also one of her greatest strengths.
John is a great teacher, gives incredibly clear talks at his professional conferences, and sends easy to read emails. He is a good communicator - and he has become that way because he isn't so good at being super-animated, entertaining, or flashy when he speaks.
As for me, one weakness I always struggle with is insecurity, wondering what others might think of me. When someone shares a word of encouragement, it really lifts me for days. As a result, I try to make an effort to share encouraging words with others - my family, an old friend, the cashier at the grocery store. Lately, I've been seeing that sharing encouragment is one of my strengths.
So next time you're wondering what you are really good at, pause to think about what one of your weaknesses is. Our weakness is often a window to a strength.
Another slant on this - I'm reminded of this comment from Paul, whose vision problems humbled him and showed him that ultimate strength can come only from God.
"'My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.' Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, adn with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size - abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become." 2 Cor. 12:9