The sweater was lovely. Its style was unique and the colour a beautiful green--my favourite-- but it had hardly been next to my skin for two minutes before the wool fibres began to tickle and irritate as if they were barbs designed to torture the truth out of some captive enemy agent.
I wanted to wear the blouse--I loved the look of it--but I couldn't stand the spiky remains of a label I had done my best to cut out--wearing it became an endurance test until with a sigh of relief, I took it off, hid it away in the back of the closet--and put on something more comfortable.
Over the past couple of weeks, I've realized that the people closest to me have lived with some sharp, pointy edges next to their skin.
In a class on assertiveness yesterday, Schelley, our instructor, told us that we need to know our strengths--be self aware. "We can only become successful," she said, "when we own the truth--when we're not embarrassed by the truth."
Years ago, I had taken assertiveness training and benefitted tremendously from it. I took the course in desperation, when as a new leader, I experienced anxiety and avoidance when it came to addressing issues. Since that time, I've thought that I was comfortably assertive. Yesterday I had an epiphany and realized that under pressure I become aggressive.
All of a sudden I could see how I've crossed boundaries, been judgmental, had bull-dozing tendencies, interrupted people and generally not been very nice. Not all the time--but enough that it matters!
I was sharing this insight with one of my team this afternoon. He nodded cheerfully in agreement--and helpfully added, "Remember the other day when....?" and recounted an interaction we'd had earlier this week. I was mortified and apologized to him. Then I apologized to Paul when I got home for being so edgy in some of my responses. I felt as if I needed to apologize to so many people.
Paul cautioned me, "Be careful, don't get carried away," and he was right. I feel as if I've done what Schelley told us we needed to do--owned the truth--got over being embarrassed by it--and now I can get on with succeeding--with God's help. I feel as if I'm on solid ground!
Prayer: Dear Lord, you are the best instructor in the world--the best teacher and counselor. Thank you for your loving shaping of my life. Thank you for the people you've surrounded me with. Please use all of me--my strengths and my weaknesses to glorify and honour you--I'm yours.
1 John 2:28-29 (New International Version)
28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.
29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.