This post is the 4th in a series all about our priorities, determining what our “main things” are and choosing to intentionally make them our main things on our weekly schedule. But before we get too deep into this week’s main thing I need to tell you something about me.

I love British television.

Actually I love British movies, British history, British royalty, British accents — I love it all. And I have for a long, long time, yes, even before Downtown Abbey. I don’t have much of a reason to give you either, but I think it has to do with our nation’s roots, my love for all things Jane Austen and my delight in the absurd facets of everyday life which is often put on satirical display in British humor (or humour).

Of all the qualities I savor from British culture I’d have to say my favorite tradition {that I have shamelessly adopted} is their use of a word that helps describe something that is “excellent” but does so with such a lovely note to it, even an otherwise average description elevates to sophisticated. And this girl will take any help she can get in adding a little more sophistication to her pretty simple life!

The word?

Brilliant.

 

What do you think of my painting? Brilliant!

Did you see his performance? Brilliant!

I read her book, it was brilliant!

Of course, like any word it can and has been overused to refer to any semi-pleasing thing, but ideally it is reserved for what is truly good, what is excellent and endears one to marvel. But who gets to decide whether a thing is worth the description of brilliant?

Well who better to say whether something is worth marveling over than the Maker of that thing?

Makers are marvelers of work they make, and no matter what anyone else says about that thing, it already carries the right to be brilliant because the Maker of it says so.

 

In Isaiah 64:8 God is described as a Potter while we — His creation as a people — are the clay.

O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.”

In Scripture the works of God are referred to as marvelous:

  • “Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things! His right hand and His holy arm have worked salvation for Him.” Psalm 98:1
  • “Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples!” Psalm 96:3
  • Job says referring to God, “…who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number.” Job 5:9

Ok Heather, what’s your point? I’ll tell you.

God made you. God marvels in you. You are marvelous, and in British terms that makes you brilliant!

But that’s not all! God made you brilliant with something uniquely brilliant to offer your world!

If you are where I was many times before, even a year ago, this is where you tune out in disbelief. You want it to be true that you have a unique brilliance to share with your world, but for whatever your reasons you won’t define what you know or do as uniquely brilliant. And you certainly don’t see how you can share it with others.

God is infinite. In terms of human design, this means there are infinite possibilities for how varied physical appearance can manifest in humanity, and the same is true with the endless combinations of personality, strengths, passions, gifting, talent, and life experience. In terms of spiritual giftedness alone, there is enough variety to keep people interesting without adding all the other elements that make us especially unique:

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.” 1 Peter 4:10-11

It is possible for an infinite number of God’s creations (people) to comprise infinite unique combinations of brilliance (marvelous works). If you have made time with God a main thing in your schedule this week, He has probably affirmed this already and has opened your eyes to some ways you can share your unique brilliance. If you have spent intentional time with your main people, you have probably had the opportunity to display your unique brilliance in a way that has benefitted their lives! Or maybe you’ve done these things but you are still unaware of how you are uniquely brilliant? Or you are discerning your work life that reaches beyond your home and are unsure how your unique brilliance fits a vocation? This would be a great question, by the way. I hope you keep asking it for the rest of your life!

Now, because of the infinite number of unique blends of person out there I am not in any way about to tell you what you are uniquely gifted at doing, just as I also cannot guess what card you are holding in your hand.

I’m not a magician.

There are beyond thousands of life coaches, courses, counselors and conversations about how to determine that important piece of the puzzle on this worldwide interweb alone. But what I will do today as we finish out prioritizing our main things – and in this case making space each week for your unique brilliance – is this:

  1. Convince or remind you that YOU have a God-designed unique brilliance to offer your world.
  2. Share some tools and resources that have helped me and may help you define your unique brilliance.
  3. Inspire you to schedule time to prioritize this starting this week!

So, my story. In college I took one of the many guidance counselor “skills tests” so many of us have taken to try and figure out what to be when we grow up. The results were shockingly unhelpful at the time, but now could be seen as potentially prophetic. Out of all the vocations possible my assessment determined I needed to become an auto mechanic. I remember it perfectly. Auto mechanic. Me, a girl who often forgets how to get the rear window wiper to work. The interesting part is that my dad is a self-taught exceptional auto mechanic, so I guess I come by it honestly. Today Grizz and I enjoy the process of rebuilding old Chevy trucks of certain models and see more of this in our future, so like I said it could be prophetic yet but as far as determining next steps in defining and sharing my unique brilliance, this test got me nowhere.

After years of education, prayer, failure, learning about myself and growing in my relationship with God my life eventually came to a point when I knew I was meant to go to law school. I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of reading large books with no pictures, but God opened my eyes to see my life clearly enough to make the next step which was to apply. After law school I had a variety of experiences, each teaching me more about myself – what I was good at and enjoyed as well as what felt like a slow death!

When I married and moved to Tennessee Grizz told me to do whatever I wanted to do, which at the time seemed irresponsible. After all, I was licensed to practice law in Florida, and soon was licensed in Tennessee too. Surely I needed to practice law or work in legislation or do something like I had done before…unless it was God inviting me to do whatever I wanted to do too? Something in me started to flutter awake. Could I really start over? And that’s when it hit me, I didn’t know what I really wanted to do! What I want has been a question I have deemed as an self-indulgent (i.e., wrong), self-centered, the wrong question spiritually (it needs to be more serious), or for others maybe but not for me.

It never occurred to me that God created me for something that would be uniquely brilliant and would bring joy to me at the same time! Maybe it wasn’t just that I didn’t know myself, but I didn’t know God’s heart for me either.

After a couple years of listening, working, and paying attention I started to find threads of my life that pointed me back to some consistent themes. Then one day I was presented with an opportunity I never saw coming. I was asked to come on our church staff as our women’s ministry leader. The leader at the time was a mentor of mine whom I highly esteemed personally. The role seemed completely out of my reach. Only a couple weeks after being offered the position though, I was at a conference for speakers, writers and ministry leaders. One of the threads I could connect through each seemingly odd joint in my story was that of words – written or spoken, I loved communicating with words. Attending the conference was a next step on my journey, but I never imagined I’d be there for the ministry leader sessions! I assumed I’d begin writing and speaking in legal or legislative circles, not in the church! Do you ever get stuck believing you have to continue doing what you’ve always done, or what you got trained to do? Maybe God wants us to stay flexible in His hands.

So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.” (Jeremiah 18:3-4)

I was confused and torn, I was tempted to hold on to my past and not consider this new path, but in a little prayer room at an Embassy Suites in Charlotte, NC, I surrendered my law degree and state bar licenses to the Potter. Through tears I entrusted whatever sliver of unique brilliance I had back to Him, the One who gave me something to share in the first place. I sensed Him nudging me to let Him start over, to make a new vessel out of me as if I had never received my prior training.

As I stepped into vocational ministry so much of my story started to make sense. So many encounters, experiences, patterns in my thinking and responding began to point to a clear fit for me in speaking and writing on matters that impact women especially, heart-to-heart. It was what I always wanted to do but I didn’t realize it was a real do-able thing!

Realizing I was made on purpose with a God-designed unique brilliance, like each one of us, I started out on an intentional journey to discover what mine was and how God could use it, but I didn’t go it alone!

Grizz and I launched out together on a journey of discerning how God made us uniquely as individuals as well as a family. We began actively seeking wisdom for making decisions that would align our vocations, spending and commitments with our more concreted mission and purpose. We signed up for a course by an author and entrepreneur I enjoy (Tsh Oxenreider), and though the course has changed names, it still provides incredible guidance for those seeking direction with how to spend their best energies vocationally! The course is Like Your Life and is closed right now, but you can sign up to be the first to find out when it is open again by going here, or you can watch a FREE 3-video series to give you an idea of what to expect.

Along that journey we discovered the Enneagram and later the book The Road Back to You. The Enneagram is a tool that helps you identify your unique personality style that you naturally gravitate toward and probably adopted in childhood to cope and feel safe. It uses a 9-point system where each number indicates a distinct way people of that number see the world, as well as an underlying motivation that powerfully influences how that type thinks, feels and behaves. We also went through the book Strengthfinders 2.o and identified our top 5 strengths which helped affirm some patterns I’ve noticed in my life. The difference between the two assessments, and the purpose of each of them, is quite significant so it’s worth going through both!

The course guided us through the Enneagram and Strengthfinders tools as well as much more and has helped Grizz and I make some major decisions that have impacted our family dynamic and our vocations (I resigned from my ministry position more confidently because I knew what I needed most next). Our clarified mission and purpose has helped us direct our spending more intentionally and has made our “yes” and “no” to commitments more easily reached and reinforced. As Tsh puts it, “Simple living is living wholistically with your life’s purpose” and I can say we are doing this much more these days than we ever have!

Another resource that was instrumental in guiding me into owning my own unique brilliance was my friend Emily P. Freeman’s beautifully written and enormously helpful book a million little ways – uncover the art you were made to live. Her entire second chapter is titled, “Uncover the Art You Were Born to Make” and I’m not going to write out her uniquely brilliant wisdom here, you just need to read this book. But I will share this little excerpt just because it is artful even in its crafting:

As the poetry of God, all our hands make a different kind of art and we create with our successes and our failures, our talents and our shortcomings, our instruments and our yard rakes, our numbers and our calloused hands. Nothing is off-limits.” Find this at the end of more paragraphs of goodness on page 211.

You are the poetry of God, do you believe this yet? Maybe this is where you start on your weekly planner: Appointment with God – help me see me as Your poetry.

Do you know who you are and how God made you – you? Maybe this is where you go next with making your unique brilliance your main thing. Consider signing up to hear about Tsh’s next course offering for Like Your Life. Or start getting to know your design better by taking the Enneagram survey, or buy one of the books I mentioned today!

May we not argue and disagree with God that we are and have a unique brilliance to share with our world. May we not hear God have to correct us like He corrected the Romans, “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’” (Romans 9:20). May we agree with God and enter more fully into His will for us by embracing His design of us.

Oh, and before I go. So remember how I didn’t know what I wanted to do but went on a journey with God to figure it out? Well, the journey continues always but writing and speaking on matters of the heart especially for women continues to be the ringing theme. In fact, I’m excited to share something with you this week. I shared this picture with those of you who follow us on Instagram and Facebook yesterday because there is something on the screen of my phone that has my head spinning!

I’m submitting the final edits to my publisher this week for my first BOOK ever! I still cannot believe it! The story of getting this book contract is a book in itself, and I will be sharing more details on the story and the book over the next few months, but for now this is my announcement here on the blog!

My book is “All the Wild Pearls – a guide for passing down redemptive stories” and it releases September 1, 2018 but it officially has a home on Amazon, which is nothing short of bonkers. I mean, really.

And as of today it had already climbed to #587 in the rankings under the category for Adoption. It will change if I blink but still. It exists and I’m almost speechless. Ya’ll, if you only knew how unlikely this is…you’d believe you too have a God-given unique brilliance inside you that this world needs!

And if you still doubt God cares about the little things in our story, consider this delightful finishing touch. The President of my Publishing House is oh so lovely, talented, smart, brilliant really, but do you want to know my favorite thing about her?

She’s British.