Recently, I have started playing ping pong again. Growing up, My Dad, my brother and I used to play ping pong all of the time! We would have tournaments at night before we went to bed. All three of us are pretty competitive people and none of us like to lose. Over time, we would constantly try to get better and exploit each others weaknesses. My weakness was and is my backhand shot.
I would spend hours trying to work on my backhand. I would spend so much time working on overcoming my weakness. Overtime, my backhand got a little better but has never become great.
I remember one day my Dad said to me, “Stop working so hard on your weakness and start focusing on your strengths.” Huh, it never even occurred to me to do that. My strength is my serve and forehand spike. I started to work on my serve and my forehand. What I found was this: if I could serve it really well people would be forced to hit the ball to my forehand. My serve would tee up my forehand spike! As I worked on my strengths I began to become a better ping pong player.
Why is it so easy to focus on our weaknesses and ignore our strengths? It could be because people tend to always point out our weaknesses and ignore our strengths. They tend to see that one bad grade on your report card, or that one day you got to work late, or the one time you lost your temper, or that one accident or speeding ticket on your record.
What if we decided that instead of spending all of our time trying to improve our weaknesses, we asked God to help us in the areas we were weak and we poured our effort into our strengths.
The apostle Paul put it this way in 2 Corinthians 12:9, But God said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
Did he really say that he would boast gladly about his weaknesses? That sounds like a crazy idea! What if it were true? What if we could give our weaknesses to God and rely on His power? What if we focused our effort on our strengths?
Everyone has strengths and everyone has weaknesses.
My good friend Les Morrison recently said, “if you look for the bad in people you will find it every time.”
What if we started focusing on our strengths and the strengths of others around us?
Let me tell you what would happen. Our self-confidence would grow! Our self-esteem would grow! Our self-image would be positive! You would be able to say “so long insecurity” and “Hey there self confidence”!
Here is the challenge:
Make a list of five of your strengths right now. List one way you can work on each one of those strengths going forward.
Remember, your life is NOT small. You have so much to offer when you focus on your strengths!
Gratefulness is a game changer. And I’ve experienced its profound influence especially over the past few weeks. See, when you have a passion to breathe hope into people and consider it a calling to tell others that their lives are not small…you’re pretty much guaranteed that massive waves of discouragement will try and throw you off course. Sometimes waves come at you in expected ways and when you’re bracing yourself it’s easier to gain your footing and stand strong through it. But when waves come out of no where, sneak attacks if you will, you better have a game plan, lest they take you under. We’ve had some real doozies come at us lately…as well as a few little irritants.
It’s honestly funny, and I’m sure I’ll laugh about it…in like 3 or 4 weeks, all of the things that have tried to steal my joy and “thankfulness” recently. Even as I sat to write this post last night my computer decided to institute a game of “Opposite Day.” I hit save, she thought that meant delete. I took my ball and went home. Silly computer.
Even as I took the above picture, I stepped in doggy doodie. Poor studded flat. That’s just a taste of the behind the scenes glamour kids. ;) Got to have a sense of humor right?
A few weeks back I told you about a book that I read called “Crash the Chatterbox.” In the book Steven Furtick says, “The attacks of discouragement will never stop coming, BUT if they’re met with praise at the gate, they won’t find entrance into your heart.”
Maybe today you’re feeling like you’re “King of the Mountain.” You’re in a fantastic mood, everything is going well, you’re teeth are extra white, in short, it’s easy to be thankful. Relish in it and smile. But maybe today you’re feeling more like the hairy little troll that resides under the mountain. You’re feeling unloved and unlovable, discouraged and frustrated and you’re pretty sure your socks don’t match. You know what the antidote to climbing out from under the mountain is?…Gratefulness.
Gratefulness lifts our perspective from our perceived reality to the true reality, in short, it’s our way of escaping feelings of discontentment because it puts life in perspective. Think of the conscience practice of gratefulness like the stick shifter moving into a new gear on your car. All of a sudden you have the momentum to take the hill that you didn’t think you could before.
Now I’ll warn you, choosing gratefulness isn’t natural, especially at first. It can feel silly to say “Thank you God…” when discouragement hits because it’s like training new muscles you’ve never used before. When the discouraging lies come it’s much easier to wallow than to fight. However, that’s a pretty miserable existence and a guaranteed way to keep your life small wouldn’t you agree?
Trust me when I say that I know life can be difficult, throw us curve balls, and offer us challenges we don’t think we have the strength to tackle. But that’s the beautiful thing about the “Gratefulness Factor.” It reminds us of the blessings and the track record of a loving God. And it reminds us at the exact moment when our eyes could be easily drawn to the negative. Gratefulness infuses us with joy; and if we don’t have joy, we don’t have strength. Philippians 4:4 in the AMP says to “gladden ourselves in the Lord.” And that my friends is exactly what we’re going to do today.
We’re in this together and I can’t wait to show you what i have to help us out in our endeavor. My super-awesome-techie-sister helped me create our FIRST EVER PRINTABLE!!!
Are you happy dancing yet? Just a little something to turn our verbal gratitude into visible gratitude ;) I’m a visual person. The type that has WAY too many windows open on her computer at once. I need to see things in front of me. So, high-five to all my visual learners out there, let’s do this thing. You now can declare your thanks out loud AND see what you’re grateful for all “thanks” :D to these spiffy little pieces of paper. We have 3 different versions for your printable pleasure:
Classic Chalkboard (this would be so fun if you have a white sharpie)
Orange, Because it’s seasonal
And Teal…because it’s my favorite color
“Gratitude re-interprets the situations in our lives. The attacks of discouragement will never stop coming, BUT if they’re met with praise at the gate, they won’t find entrance into your heart.”
Until next time,