God always lines things up in ways that I never expect. For example, I recently applied to participate in two launch teams for authors I respect—Holley Gerth and her You’re Already Amazing LifeGrowth Guide and Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy’s Living Forward book.
Due to our small town post office’s change in hours, it took me a week to pick up the packages. Once I had the books in hand, I couldn’t decide which to read first. Making a life plan sounds so important, especially because I realize that I have done a lot of drifting in my life. Since I’d been chosen to participate in that launch first, I decided to dive right in to Living Forward.
From the very beginning, I felt the conviction that this book has so much to say to me—but to be honest, the whole concept of developing a life plan terrifies me. I belong to that generation of women that was neither oppressed nor empowered—thus I felt unsure as to whether or not I NEEDED a Life Plan.
For the most part, no one told me overtly that I COULDN’T do something because of my gender, but the silent message I received was that as part of the female half of the world, my roles should include the three Ms—marriage, motherhood and mentoring—regardless of whether or not I felt especially equipped for any of them. To deny my highest calling would waste the talents God gave me.
Don’t get me wrong—I love marriage and motherhood, but I wouldn’t say that either came naturally or easy. My introverted personality and habit of stuffing my feelings made communicating with my extroverted, exuberant husband a real challenge at times. Over time, all those books I’ve read on relationships have helped me become a better communicator.
Likewise, I didn’t take to motherhood the way fish take to swimming. Self-help books and parenting classes provided a much-needed rescue ring (not to mention the fact that learning to parent on the same page as my husband increased my communication skills). I made some real blunders as a parent, but by the time I needed to really step it up and employ all that I had learned, by God’s grace, I think I did ok.
Mentoring (that natural ability to come alongside younger women and somehow help them—along with the kitchen sink of duties assigned to women in churches) remains illusive. I’d rather get up front and preach than fold the communion cloths and fill the cups with grape juice.
Pedro and I have grown through 27 years of marriage and conflict resolution, and we plan on enjoying each other’s company for as long as we both shall live. But our nest has emptied (mostly—our youngest is in college), and I feel the need to fill it with something—and no idea with what to fill it. A life plan seemed like the perfect fix.
But I hit a roadblock after the first few chapters of Living Forward. Who am I to write a life plan—as long as I stumble along making sure that my marriage remains solid, my children feel loved and anyone who crosses my path feels mentored in some way, everything should be good, right? Women are supposed to just drift along and care for the next person God places in their path, right?
Maybe not. I decided to switch to the other book for awhile, and I’ve discovered a lot about myself by going through Holley Gerth’s You’re Already Amazing LifeGrowth Workbook. The exercises and videos helped me realize that ‘God puts us in a season for a reason’—and those seasons might not last forever. For example, whilst I embraced motherhood and learned the skills I needed to become a better parent, I no longer have children at home. That season has ended.
Although I’ve nurtured others quite a bit—my husband through cancer, our daughters, my students—I can’t say that I’ve been intentional about it. Over the years, I have learned to say ‘no’ to things that people have tried to guilt me into doing (“You’re cheerful, won’t you be a greeter at church?”), but I haven’t really had a plan for why I say no (which induces a lot of guilt).
Gerth takes readers through the steps of self-discovery (this is NOT an easy step for me!), which enables us to see that as women, God doesn’t expect us to adhere to the 3Ms. He created each one of us for an amazing purpose (and it might not be marriage, motherhood, or mentoring).The #AlreadyAmazing LifeGrowth guide takes you through the steps you need to discover your talents and strengths. Click To Tweet
The first four chapters or units of study delve into the reader’s gifts (this is where doing the study in community would be a great idea, because, frankly, I have a hard time identifying my gifts), interests and styles of getting things done. Once the reader has figured these things out, Gerth introduces readers to the concept of LIFE statements (Love Is Faith Expressed).
Once again, this proved difficult for me, but Gerth walks the faint of heart through the process with plenty of tips and encouragement. The last chapter deals with examining the legacy one wants to leave—which, ironically (or should I say, providentially), is where Hyatt and Harkavy’s book begins.
The LifeGrowth Guide includes everything a gal needs to figure out her LIFE statement so that she can move on to her Life Plan (found in Living Forward). The beautifully designed book has room to journal, doodle, think out loud and jot down notes. Each session, or chapter, has corresponding videos from the author as well as excerpts from her book You’re Already Amazing, and extension activities. The back of the book includes directions for group leaders and facilitators—creating a virtual women’s retreat in a box.
I’ve never considered doing a group Bible study or women’s group, because I don’t have the time to come up with the curriculum. But with this tool, even introverted me could act as hostess and facilitator.It's like discovering a women's retreat in a box from Amazon. #AlreadyAmazing Click To Tweet
What about you? Do you have a hard time identifying your needs, strengths and talents?