Thanks so much to each of you who reached out after the last post About #Resolutions, Rest & Your SOUL TATTOO and for coming along for the adventure of discovering and living out of your #SOULTATTOO.
I am so glad some of you have decided to gather with a few of your peeps and travel together! Where two or more are gathered is such a good thing! I learned so much from my sweet friends last week as we gathered! I am so grateful for their honesty and encouragement and so look forward to going on this journey together!
I hope you’ve enjoyed giving thanks for and RESTING in your TOP 5/10 Character Strengths for a few days.
The way I see it, Character Strengths are different than our other gifts or talents because they represent who we are in our core rather than what we are good at doing.
Put into the context of faith, they are the key combination of characteristics God purposefully and permanently inked into our very being, our soul, as an expression of His love for the benefit of us and others. Thus the picture of a #SOULTATTOO.
If you haven’t yet had a chance to see and appreciate them, you can click on over to viacharacter.org and in 15 short minutes gain a sweet visual on your wonderful self!
As I have been sitting with mine, I have realized how distinctly different my world is when I am intentionally and authentically living out of my strengths. There is joy and fullness of life and more of a focus on others than on myself when I am in that sweet spot.
When I am living outside of my #SOULTATTOO, I find myself to be more isolated and restless, discontent, anxious, critical (and on and on and on), hard on myself and others. So NOT a pretty picture!
Have you noticed that every strength has a shadow side? You know, that place of dis-ease or discomfort you find yourself when you are NOT living out of your God given strengths/SOULTATTOO.
Can we talk about the warning signs your soul might be sending you when you land on the shadow side of your strength? I am finding it’s so important to recognize the warning signs so I can step back into the truth of who I am.
Here’s what it looks like for me.
My #2 Character Strength is LOVE. I value close connection with people and being able to share deeply with them. I am especially happy when this is reciprocated.
But if I feel the possibility of rejection or judgment, I can distance from people I love in a heartbeat rather than lean in to close the gap and restore relationship. (This is when the mean girl in my head whispers things like, “You don’t belong because, Girl, you are certainly not very lovable.” Can you hear the warning bells ringing?)
Hello, 2017. Hello, #SOULTATTOO. Hello, Divine Love. Guess what I will be needing to learn to do more readily this year? (…besides stuff a sock in the mean girl’s mouth?)
My #3 Character Strength is GRATITUDE. This is a strength I have practiced since 2009 when I began listing five things I was grateful for each day. GRATITUDE was a muscle I discovered and began to exercise it during a very difficult season of life. It taught me that “joy is the result of a grateful heart rather than a grateful heart being the result of happiness and joy”. (A quote from Brother David Steindl-Rast, worth reading through again:)
When I fail to practice GRATITUDE on a regular basis, thanking God for His love and provision even when life is hard, I fall into comparison, envy and discontent. (Mean girl snickering about how dumb my life is and warning bells going off-again.)
My #5 Character Strength is SOCIAL INTELLIGENCE. I am pretty good at being aware of other’s feelings and motives and at knowing what makes people tick.
When I step out of this strength, rather than having compassion for or encouraging and blessing others, I find myself becoming critical and dare I say, judgmental in my thoughts and feelings towards them? (Now I am the mean girl and there is loud almost unbearable ringing…)
Our #SOULTATTOO, the unique combination of our Character Strengths, is given to us not only for our own benefit but for the benefit of others. Here is how they are defined on VIA Institute’s website: “Character strengths are viewed as our positive personality in that they are our core capacities for thinking, feeling and behaving in ways that can bring benefit to us and to others.”
As I sat with my sweet friends this week, we each realized that as much as we felt at home with our SOULTATTOOs, we still struggle to fully live out of them. (Oh and btw, did I mention that all of us are well past our 20s? Wink.)
It seems that as long as our feet are firmly planted on earth we will live in the tension of toggling between our strengths and their shadow side. Apparently, no matter how young we are we will hear the voice of the mean girl in our head and have to choose between believing what she says about us and the truth about the image of God inked into our soul.
And the good news is, you ask? The good news is that by learning to recognize the warning bells and the voice of the mean girl we can intentionally step back into our strength more quickly over time. It’s like exercising any other muscle!
At the bottom of this post is a worksheet for you to circle back around with your Top 5/10 and list the strengths and the warning bells.
Try to be open any situations or relationships that come to mind where your mean girl needs to stand down and alarm bells might be ringing. Chances are these are the very places that may be inviting you to intentionally step back into your #SOULTATTOO.
Remember, we’re RESTING in January, just acknowledging and quietly sitting with these things (taking a clue from winter…). Waiting for wisdom and perspective. Thanks for traveling with me!
Click here for the worksheet, print & enjoy: jan-rest-2
My Prayer For You…
May you learn to REST in and be GRATEFUL for the purposeful and permanent divine DNA God inked into your soul before you were formed in your mother’s womb.
May your soul begin to quickly recognize the things, the situations, and the messages that cause you to believe lies about who you really are. In those moments of recognition, may you take courage and step back into the strength and light of your beautiful SOULTATTOO.
May you feel His deep pleasure and joy when you find yourself living out of your unique reflection of His image.
May you be blessed by His care and artistry in creating you- just as you are.