This post is part of our Easter series on the Seven Joys of Mary. God gives us gifts so that we can use them for His glory. In this meditation, Alyssa reflects on how identifying her particular gifts has been a blessing, but also some of the challenges that come with stepping out of our own abilities and trusting God.
Have you ever taken the Clifton StrengthsFinder test? At Little With Great Love, we each completed the test before attending our first ever team retreat. I’d never heard of this test before, and get nervous just hearing the word “test.” However, this test is almost like a personality quiz, asking questions to help assess our “talents.”
Lisa and Tammi have previously shared “How the StrengthsFinder is a Game Changer” and explain: The Gallup website produces a top-five “strengths” or “talents” for each individual by using your answers from their online test. This information is invaluable for people struggling to discover or feel fulfilled in their vocations. The results provide the language needed for people to be more fully alive and to feel seen for who they are.
The reason why we completed this as a team was so we can discuss how knowledge of our gifts and talents benefits those with whom we minister or work. It helps lead us into stronger relationships built on understanding and communication.
This test was not only a game changer for helping me communicate and understand my team better, but better and fully understand myself. I now know why I think a certain way, how my talents work together, and how I can manage myself better by knowing these five strengths.
My Strengths Make Sense
After taking the test, I 100% agree with my results. In order, my strengths are:
I’m not going to go into detail about each one, but after reading all the descriptions, I knew these truly were my strengths. Once we gathered for our retreat, Lisa had gotten insights professionally done about each of our strengths (which you can read more about in the blog). We received a table showing each strength and next to it was what “I bring” to the team with that particular strength, followed by what “I need” from my team to utilize my strength.
This is when I realized each strength plays into one another, forming me into the type of person I am. I felt extremely validated and most in tune with myself than I ever was before (I highly recommend this test for everyone).
Post-retreat, I’ve stayed most in tune with my top two strengths, strategic and maximizer. As a maximizer, I see the potential in everyone and love to help people grow and become their best selves. Maximizers are described as divers looking for pearls, and once they find one they take their time polishing it until it shines. I like to take the talents I’m given and polish them and hone in on them and make each one strong.
The results of the test explain that the strategic theme enables me to sort through the clutter of life and find the best route. It is not a skill that can be taught. It is a distinct way of thinking, a special perspective on the world at large.
This perspective allows me to see patterns where others simply see complexity. I tend to accurately evaluate potential obstacles, and guided by where I see each path leading, I make my decisions. I discard the paths that lead nowhere. I discard the paths that lead straight into resistance. I discard the paths that lead into a fog of confusion. I make these decisions until I create my strategy, and move forward with it. All of this happening instantaneously in my head.
These two abilities play hand in hand as I create my strategy and then move forward maximizing it. This is how I function in all aspects of my life, constantly forming a strategy in how I will go about my day, my work, and even free time. I am always seeing the next possible 20 steps and acting accordingly. This is such a gift in almost all areas of my life… but what about when I can’t see the next step, or when I see so many steps and get overwhelmed by all the possibilities… What should I do?
Saying Yes to God > Seeing the Next Step
At so many points in our lives, we beg God to give us signs, to just show us what to do, and we will gladly do it. Give me a big neon sign saying, “This is the right way to go.” But that never happens. Instead all we can do is give God a blind yes.
Given my top two gifts of strategy and maximizer, I am always working out in my brain the best possible next step. This happens in my day to day tasks, as well as in big life decisions. Mix this in with my anxiety, and I find myself overwhelmed with possibilities, which leaves me indecisive and overanxious. It is in these moments that I’ve learned to say yes to God, and put my trust in Him.
When I say yes to God and put my trust in Him, I don’t have to worry about the 20 different possibilities each decision can go. I know He will protect me on my path and give me all I need to walk it, because this is what He has always done.
For me, I have trusted God during my life to decide which college to attend, should I work on a master’s, where should I work, whether I should get married, where should I live, and many more things life throws at me. I continue to experience His graces when I give Him my yes, and it all starts with trust.
Learning to Trust and Say Yes to God
Throughout my life, by being around my Catholic family, working in ministry from high school to present, falling out of faith and finding it again, and forming my own relationship with the Lord, I have been able to develop a trust in the Lord. I have learned through not only the joys and blessings He has given me, but also learning through the suffering and pain how and why I trust the Lord.
Trusting can be hard. Saying yes to God can be hard. It’s okay.
Do you want to trust? Do you feel the need to trust? Are you scared to trust? Do you not know how to trust?
These are all valid and understandable feelings we all experience. It can happen because we are hurt, trying to protect ourselves, and we are worried. Last year I spoke with our old teammate Michelle, and we shared how we are learning to trust more and worry less. You can listen/read each of our reflections Part 1 and Part 2 on Learning to Trust More and Worry Less.
I share in Part 1 a Bible passage on the Last Supper, and you know how Jesus always says, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you.” I never really understood or knew truly what it meant, and then I read this passage in Luke which resonated with me.
It was Luke, chapter 14, the Last Supper, where Jesus is telling the disciples about the Advocate who’s coming after Him, which is the Holy Spirit. And He’s trying to calm down the disciples, who are kinda getting worried because He keeps talking about leaving. In this chapter, He says the following verse 27:
“Peace I leave you my peace I give you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”Luke 14:27
When I read this, I felt like the message was for me. I can try and plan and visualize my next steps, but I will never find the true peace I long for unless it’s through the Lord.
The Lord wants to give us peace. He wants to bless us. And all we have to do is say yes.