Monday, January 25, 2016

Fifty Four and Still Growing Up

Today is my birthday and I turn 54 years old.  I'm happy.  I love my life and it's a good one.  But while I'd love to say I'm always mature and have it together, I'm afraid that's not the case.  Sometimes I still feel like I'm a child who is struggling to grow up. 

This weekend I was away at a pastor's wife retreat and before we went, we took a personal strength's test called a Strength Deployment Inventory which provided very vivid ways of seeing yourself and others from the perspective of motives under two conditions - when things are going well and in conflict.  I found it quite interesting and informative.  Much of it I already knew, but it really did give me deeper insight to who I am.

When things are going well, my strengths were in being assertive and nurturing.  Just a few of the statements used to describe me were...

  • You identify needs quickly, then move swiftly to assist those in need.

  • You feel drawn to mentoring relationships and often defend those you perceive as vulnerable.

  • You are focused on achievement of your own goals, while also actively encouraging others to grow and succeed through your guidance.

  • You combine a friendly and direct approach, and you want to see others move forward and benefit from your coaching.

  • You are open, enthusiastic, friendly, and sincerely compassionate for others.

When I'm in conflict, my particular strengths tend to change from being assertive to very quickly to wanting to keep harmony and goodwill. A few statements to describe my reactions when there is conflict were...

  • You first try to keep harmony and minimize confrontation.

  • You tend to feel anxious or uncomfortable because there is a conflict.

  • You sometimes feel at fault and apologize (even if it's not my fault).

  • You want other people to be calm and stay in conversation with me.

  • You do not want other people to be aggressive, argumentative, or to push for immediate decisions or actions.

It was quite an enlightening study and it was especially interesting to see how I act in conflict.  The longer the conflict goes on, people can go into a different stage of dealing with it, but I find in my case it never progresses beyond stage one because I'm so quick to accommodate and give other people what they want.

There were words that described my strengths, starting with the most noticeable - socializer, quick to act, ambitious, competitive, risk taker, forceful, adaptable, principled, loyal.

There were words that described my overdone strengths.  These are strengths that when pushed too far become more of a weakness - rash, wishy-washy, inconsistent, without any focus, unable to stand alone, self-sacrificing.

And that was the part that makes me want to grow up.  I have much to work on and my weaknesses are noticeable, especially to me.  So while today I celebrate 54 years, it's also a good day for reflecting on both those qualities that are strengths and those that can become weaknesses when overdone.

I think reflection and growth are good things.  So while I talk about growing up, it's not a negative thing to me.  It's just being comfortable with how God made me and understanding how I react in different circumstances and how to keep moving forward in my life.

It's a good day to be 54! :-)