“I have called you by name…” Isaiah 43: 1
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” Jeremiah 1:4-5
Strengths and Belonging: Odd, I think at first, that I should put those two words together as I approached the idea of a Reflection on Mission of Atonement’s “Living Yours Strengths” Lenten Project. But the Holy Spirit put that in my brain for a reason so let’s go with it.
Way back in the ancient history of my youth, as an Exchange Student in Germany, I took to heart the guidance we were given to quickly integrate ourselves into our host families lives. That advice was: to be on the lookout for what needed doing and to do it. And… as that worked so well with my three new families during that fourteen months, in the forty plus years since, I have tended to apply that approach to any new groups I have “encountered” with continued success. This fostered the habit of jumping in and volunteering for whatever needed doing as soon as I saw the need, often-times even if it really wasn’t anything I was good at or enjoyed. Sadly to say, even though it usually meant quick acceptance as an integral and valued member of any team, group, organization, or community, I often inwardly chaffed that I was seen more for what I did than for WHO I was.
Now Dennis and I are integrating into a new community here at MOTA and we must confess we have been a bit hesitant to decide to take this step. We are both drawn to the unique qualities of this community and yet at the same time often feel like outsiders because everyone else seems to know each other so well and has a shared history.
Enter – “Living Your Strengths.” An already great community here at MOTA gets to “re-think” and “tweak” not so much what we do - but how we can do it even better. We have the opportunity to get to know each other on a whole different level. Identifying each other by our God gifted talents and then helping each other develop those gifts thru use and skill into strengths. We are encouraged to focus our volunteer efforts in the areas that we are “talented.” This results in finding the ‘right fit’ into the community rather than trying to ‘fit in’ just anywhere. Wow! Consider the possibilities.
Although this goes so much deeper that simply knowing everyone’s name I am left humming the Cheers TV Show theme song:
Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.
Wouldn't you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they're always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
You wanna go where people know,
people are all the same,
You wanna go where everybody knows