Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The ABC’s of Discernment: M is for Me

Everyone is created by God, and since God has an infinite amount of creativity, everyone is uniquely made. Oh, we may share this quirk with that person or that passion with this friend. But my particular combinations of traits, passions, quirks, skills, gifts, and talents belong to me alone, while your particular combination belongs to you alone. Indeed, even identical twins, who share the same genetic code, often have opposite personalities.

This affects discernment in that we each have a unique set of strengths and weaknesses, which lead to a unique set of personal limitations. This doesn’t mean you share none of your limitations with anyone else. Rather, like with character traits, your limitations may overlap with others’ in certain areas. Just not in every area. No one person’s set of limitations will completely apply to another. This requires each of us to uncover who we are, flag our potential problems, and then set guardrails—or personal limitations—accordingly.

So what are some of the areas we need to be aware of? The list is vast, but here are four areas to start your considerations:

  • Talents & Gifts: Every strength has a corresponding weakness. Every gift has a dark side. Every ability can be wielded for harm as well as good. When something comes naturally for us, the temptation to depend on and abuse that skill increases, as does the amount of potential damage. For example, a gifting with words can tear down as well as build up. Guardrails might include avoiding situations that encourage wrong use (e.g. spending time with known gossip, in the case with word gifting), spending time with those who are equally gifted in the same area (iron sharpens iron, and can help prevent an inflated ego), and learning from/listening to those different from yourself.

  • Passions: We all have issues that are near and dear to our hearts, things we love and long to share with the world. These topics, however, tend to be hot buttons too; a violation of something we are passionate about can also provoke out-of-control anger or hatred for those who violate that area. E.g. A love of freedom can become indignation or even rage over violated rights. A guardrail might be finding a safe environment/method (like journaling) with which to blow off steam.

  • Fear: Fear is a very powerful motivator, and we will go to great lengths to avoid what scares us. In some case, our aversion will drive us to do the unpleasant, distasteful, and even wrong. For example, a fear of failure often pushes us to maintain the status quo, even when we dislike the status quo. Some guardrails we can employ might include set times to confront areas of fear and avoiding media which feeds those fears.

  • Fallacies: Closely connected to our fears, we each have lies that we believe. We may know they are lies, but for one reason or another, we can’t convince ourselves of the truth. Often we wonder if we’re the exception or doubt the extent of the truth. Either way, we are easily dragged down when attacked in these areas of vulnerability. E.g. A woman who believes herself unlovable may be tempted to do or endure anything to keep the attention of a guy. As a result, our lies will cause us to pick our company and media carefully—we want to hang around those who reinforce the truth, not the lie.

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