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What is your strength?

By Denae Jones – 

My boys are always telling me to flex my biceps.  I’m pretty sure it’s just so they can laugh at the fact that I can flex my arm as hard as I can and there is basically no difference.  Triceps are totally out of the question.  The boys just like to remind me that they are now surpassing me in physical strength.  That proved to be true the week we were moving boxes and furniture into our new home.  I have to say, it was nice to be able to call one of the boys over to pick up something that I was unable to, but overall, I held my own.
We all have different strengths.  The boys might have been the muscles when it came to ripping out old carpet and baseboards, but the girls were really good at packing boxes neatly and carefully.  I was better at planning out the logistics of when, where and how everything needed to be done, then made a hundred trips back and forth to unload and organize at the new place.  Besides physical strength, my husband did a fantastic job at putting in new floors and closets and doing repairs.  Everyone helped paint.  Our strengths might not be the same, but we are all strong in our own way that balances out the weakness in the others.
Whatever your strength is, it’s probably something you take pride in.  Maybe you are a great artist, or carpenter, or mechanic.  Maybe you are good with words, or with parenting, or really good at your job.  Whatever it is, that strength is a gift.
When people get in arguments, sometimes they are really good at finding what the other’s strength is and trying to make them feel like it isn’t their strength after all.  If they know it’s something the other person takes pride in, they know it’s a hot button to push.  They find the thing the other is most proud of and attempt to degrade them in that one area until the other person feels like they are weak.  Sometimes we hear it so often that we start to believe it.  Don’t.
I see this happen all the time in school.  You’re the smart kid who skips parties to study?  Or the kid who’s an extremely talented musician, but doesn’t play sports?  Oh, then you’re probably not cool enough to hang out with the crowd who does.  It happens the other way too.  You’re the sport star who spends lots of time in the gym?  Oh, then my grades are probably way better than yours.  It’s so not true.
I see it all the time in stressed marriages.  You take pride in the fact that you’re a really good parent and keep nutritious meals on the table?  Okay, so when we’re in an argument, I’m going to bring up the one time that a kid got hurt under your watch or the meals got burned.  You take pride in the fact that you have a job that you are really good at and love?  Okay, so when we’re in an argument, I’m going to bring up all the times you worked long hours and missed out on family time.  So unfair.
I see it happen in places of work.  You got a promotion and are a team leader now?  I wanted that job.  So I’ll talk behind your back and pick out everything I think you do wrong and get our co-workers to talk about you too.
If that isn’t enough, we are really good at laughing at other’s weaknesses too.  It happens everywhere, and it happens too much.  Why do we do this to each other?  Is it jealousy?  Just wanting to create a weak spot to win an argument?  Degrading others and putting down their strength does not make us strong.  In fact, it makes us weak.  In character, in reputation, and in spirit.  They may not have the same strengths we do, but rest assured that they have many strengths that we do not.
What would it look like if we recognized the strengths in others and complimented them instead?  The great musicians in the band are always playing at ball games. Maybe the ball players could support them at one of their concerts.  How different would the home atmosphere be if the spouse who comes home from work chose to say three nice things before they ever thought about pointing out something that didn’t get done?  Or if the spouse at home thanked the other for working long hours to support the family instead of getting angry about the (probably mandatory) overtime? What if you only talked to your co-workers about things that were complimentary?  Even about the one who got the promotion you wanted.  What if we used our strengths to balance out the weakness in the others?  It would change the whole dynamic and make school, home, and work a happier place to live life.
Sometimes we feel like we just don’t have any strength, physical or otherwise.  I encourage you to pray about it.  That God will strengthen you in your areas of weakness so that you can be a strong support to others as well.  Isaiah 41:10  “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Have a blessed week, friends!

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