There are a lot of things I am not very good at, like waking up with instant energy and enthusiasm, making my bed, or cooking a well-balanced meal for myself. Some people are so good at making conversation with strangers, keeping a smile on their face regardless of their circumstances, or maintaining a pleasant mood without four cups of coffee. These types of things are not easy for me — I have not yet acquired these skills. I look around and see people who effortlessly execute these tasks, and sometimes I wonder if qualities such as these can be improved or altered in a person, or if they are simply a part of our genetic makeup that we would be better off not trying to fix.
My dad, for instance, has this nearly-psychic way of knowing exactly what people will need in any given moment and is relentless in his pursuit to meet those needs, especially for those he cares for most. He is enthusiastic and encouraging, and you don’t have to ask him twice for a helping hand. And my mother is benevolent, compassionate and never pretentious. She taught me to indulge in life’s simple pleasures. She is quick to listen and slow to speak, and she is patient in completing life’s daily tasks that make me want to pull my hair out (like folding my laundry in a timely manner or filling out paperwork).
Other people who I am close to, like my lifelong friends Grace and Kenzie, don’t take themselves too seriously. They know how to make a celebration out of a normal Tuesday afternoon and never shy away from an opportunity to help heal a broken situation by doing so. Their friendship has taught me that no matter how challenging life gets, it is still important to laugh.
I deeply admire the people in my life who do not run out of stamina in pursuing that which they care about: My sister Olivia is incessantly hard-working, and no excuse ever seems good enough for her to slack on her disciplines and passions. Brynn, my best friend from home, holds similar strengths, and also has a superhuman emotional capacity to sit and feel and empathize with whatever people need her to. These are tremendous gifts and talents.
My friend Jordan carries energy and light through whatever doorway she passes. She is thoughtful and careful, while abundantly spunky and lively. People like Olivia and Austin are imaginative and pursue the monotony of each day with whimsy and gusto. Both Hailey and Rebecca make up for so many areas that I lack: Rebecca makes her bed before my alarm clock has even gone off and exerts more patience in a day than I probably will in my lifetime; Hailey wraps those she loves in so much comfort and warmth, and she can cook a meal without a recipe that would require an army of chefs for me.
When I am low, it is easy for these strengths in others to only make me more insecure in my weaknesses. It can persuade me to back away, convinced I will never be as good. However, during the days when I realize that not everything is about me, I can see how incredibly necessary it is that these people are in my life. And I can even become additionally thankful for their strengths, especially in light of my weaknesses.
I am grateful for these people who carry such wisdom and grace by simply living and walking and being. Because in living out their natural tendencies and dispositions, they are creating a wonderful balancing act, making up where I lack and pushing me to stretch and grow and be better than I was yesterday. May we, as imperfect and incomplete people, recognize the gift we have in others’ strengths to ultimately sharpen and harmonize and invigorate our communities and surroundings.
And to the people in my life: Your existence in my world is a gift and a teacher, enabling me to have a fuller life and deeper relationships.