It was approaching the end of the school year. Our calendar was swirling with activities. Field trips, field day, parties, 5th grade breakfast and graduation, and middle school orientation to name a few. It was also when I like to take the time to plan gifts for the teachers. As a type two on the Enneagram, my heart is to encourage and bless others. Teachers sit particularly high in my book of unsung heroes. You just can’t put a price on all that they do! As I began to think of ideas of what I could do to bless them and say thank you, anxiety began to creep it’s way in. The kind that whispers so many options and tells you that none of them will be good enough, that nothing I offer could possibly show the amount of appreciation that I want to convey. All of a sudden, something that was meant to be a thoughtful blessing became somewhat paralyzing. Do I go with flowers, chocolates, gift cards, or something more personal? It had to be meaningful and perfect. These thoughts and feelings were all too familiar. I have dealt with this over the past years many times when it comes to giving gifts. It’s worked its way into birthdays, Christmas, weddings and other various events. This time was different because I didn’t want to just push through.
Since I have been on journey of cultivating self-awareness and learning to partner with the Holy Spirit in listening to my heart, this raised a red flag. When something begins to hit my anxiety button I have been choosing to press pause, step back and reassess instead of carrying on like I used to do. This also goes for feelings such as depression, fear, jealousy, and the like. When self-awareness comes in, you are able to catch these things and initiate a new path. This is so beneficial because it stops the same cycle of negative feelings from coming again and again. It opens me up to deeper healing, to identify lies, to see wrong mindsets and past hurts lying underneath. I am able to heal and grow. When these buttons are pushed I don’t want to stay in the same place anymore, and that involves having a new response system. Connecting with my heart and desiring to have it function in a healthier way has brought this about. So my next step was to ask myself some questions. What does my heart want to communicate in this situation? This helped me to re-align with what is most important to me. I wanted to communicate to the teachers how much I value them and how grateful I am for them. Gifts are wonderful, but writing or speaking your heart to someone has deep impact. One thing I try to always include is a very heartfelt card from the kids and I. Asking this question helped me to refocus on that amidst the swarm of gift ideas. All of a sudden I had a thought that would mark me and carry into other areas. What if I am the gift? What if my presence, gratitude, prayers, support and kindness spoke louder than any tangible item? Could the very essence of what I uniquely carry be blessing them? You see, I realized my struggle with the anxiety of deciding on gifts was coming from a place of feeling like nothing would be enough, that I couldn’t do or give anything that would feel good and complete. I was placing all the value on the gift and not the heart behind it. When I had to look it square in the face, I just felt so inadequate. The anxiety was just a decoy for the idea that what I had to offer missed the mark. A sense of striving and but never being fulfilled. Needless to say this was not just about teacher gifts, but spilled into so many areas of my life. There was a spirit of striving that was masking my ability to see my true self-worth. It was always about what I could do or give, but never feeling satisfied in who I am. God is his goodness used this opportunity to bend down and whisper “ What if you are the gift?’
The Lord had already been helping me to love myself better. I have been learning to accept my body, my personality, and the way I process and see the world. He wanted me to own my past and present and welcome my struggles. To be able to believe that they are all a part of my journey and will serve a purpose, as opposed to constantly being frustrated. He wanted to take that process further, shake me up a bit and create a new thought stream in which I could feel fully enough. This would change how I view and react to situations and decisions, and could only be done by re-aligning me with my heart and hearing His voice of truth about who I am.
As for the teachers, the kids and I took time to write special thoughtful cards and pick out gift cards that we thought would bless each of them. I could release my striving and feel complete in what we offered. Since then, I have had a couple of opportunities to practice this in other situations. It was so beautiful and freeing to trust my heart and embrace my worth.
Are there areas of life you are striving so hard and it never feels like enough? Have you connected with your heart and considered that who you are is not only enough, but a unique contribution and blessing to others? Are you truly valuing your complete story and trusting it will all be used in a beautiful way? What you have to give is unique, worthy and enough. You are the gift friend!