- I like my strength. I don't like the fact that I have an anxiety disorder, or that most of my childhood memories are filled with miserable panic attacks. But I do like the fact that it's made me a stronger person. I'm pretty good at pushing through stuff that makes me uncomfortable. And I hate chickening out about stuff, because that makes me feel like my anxiety's winning, and I like being in control of my life, thank you very much. So my anxiety has made me a stronger person, and I like that. In counseling a few weeks ago, I was asked if I could imagine my life without the specter of anxiety, and I said that I could envision a life without panic attacks because I've had a few "off years" where it wasn't really an issue for me. Then she asked if I could imagine removing anxiety from my past- like, what life would have been like growing up without it. I said no. It's a part of me. It's not a great part, but it has helped to shape who I am.
- I like my craftiness. And by that, I don't mean shadiness. I like my artistic ability, which took a while to discover. It may mean my house is cluttered with craft supplies, but I also have a bunch of fun hobbies and the ability to make things that make people happy, whether it's helping with projects at work, making things for my sponsor kids, or planning crafts for the kids in Tanzania. It's fun. I like to create.
- I like my giving spirit. And I'm not talking about monetary stuff, because I don't have a lot of money. But I like the fact that I like giving people things to make them happy, whether it's writing letters to my sponsor kids, putting a lot of thought into people's Christmas presents, or baking a cobbler just because for my coworkers. I like giving and sharing and making people smile. I'm thankful that I'm built that way. Some people aren't.
- I like that it's easy for me to love. I love people. And animals, too. I am an overly empathetic person- that bit can be annoying sometimes, because I cry a lot at silly things, like movie scenes that don't make anyone else cry. Or commercials. Or books. But I think that the empathy makes it easier for me to be compassionate and see both sides of a situation and figure out what I can do to help. I'm glad I'm not a grumpy old mean person. I'm thankful that I worry about what other people are feeling, because it keeps me from hurting others sometimes with my sassy mouth (and it makes me properly apologetic when I do let something slip.) I have had more than my fair share of run-ins with nasty people over the past couple of years, and have experienced a lot of betrayal. And sometimes I wonder how those people got that way- how do you get to the point where you actively try to hurt people? Or how do you get to the point where you think it's ok to be hurtful? And I'm thankful that the way my heart is designed, I don't think that I'll ever be that way.
OK, so I didn't get to 5. I tried. But all things considered, I think that I did pretty well.
So here's my encouragement for you this week. I'm not going to say "think about how awesome you are" because that's weird and is totally missing the point. I'm going to ask you to think about what makes you you. What makes you unique, what makes you special. Even if it's stuff that seems bad on the surface, like my anxiety. And be grateful for it. Be thankful to God for making you that way. Be thankful to your family for shaping your mind and your life growing up. Be thankful for the tough experiences that have made you a better person.