What gift do you bring?

A few days ago, as I walked down an aisle in Target, I passed by a woman speaking to a clerk. As I wandered past, the clerk nodded his head and proceeded to lead the woman to what she was seeking. The woman, following his lead, said with a slight giggle, “I’m just a mom. What do I know?” I responded in a whisper to her question, “Everything.” I’m sure she was kidding, at least to a degree. Now obviously, I know she doesn’t know everything. But having been a parent for almost 26 years, I know first-hand that you have to learn many things to wear the different hats that parents must wear.

I am often amazed at how often people belittle their own abilities. Whether you’re a parent or not, if you’ve lived at all, you bring something of value to the table. Who has endured heartbreak? Lost a loved one? Been hurt or disappointed by life? If I asked for a show of hands, I would be willing to bet that everyone in the room would have their hand up. If you have ever stepped outside of the safety of your four walls, chances are you have gained wisdom of some sort. But so often, being the imperfect humans that we are, we tend to focus on where we’re lacking. I’m too nervous to speak in front of people, I can’t spell well, I don’t have a degree. Every one of these insecurities boils down to one thing – a fear that we are not good enough. We think, “Once I get better/achieve/acquire (fill in the blank), I will be successful/happy/fulfilled.”

No! This belief is wrong. Happiness and joy aren’t wrapped up in some event or achievement to come. It is a choice we make right now. True happiness comes from within. Any joy from an external source is fleeting at best.

I once lived as a total victim of my life. I believed my circumstances were completely beyond my control. I thought if certain people or situations would change, I would finally be happy. This is a total cop-out. I finally realized I had to take responsibility for my life and my choices – yep, even the bad ones. I had to own up to my mistakes and be accountable.

Over time I learned that self-respect and boundaries are essential to my happiness and my joy. I admitted to myself  where I had faltered and started taking steps to bring about positive change in my life and live according to my truth and beliefs. I learned to love myself, imperfections and all. I still fall down from time to time, but I’ve learned to give myself compassion and grace that I willingly gave others but withheld from myself. I know now that my mistakes are mistakes I made. They don’t make me a mistake.

My experiences have made me into the loving, compassionate, generous woman I am today. They have given me wisdom and courage to live an authentic life. I am able to see my strengths and my weaknesses without judgement. This healthier view has extended outward to how I view others in my life as well. I am learning to see through the eyes of love.

Take an honest look at your life – where you’ve been, what you’ve learned, how you’ve grown. What gift do you bring?

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