When You Realize You’re Not So Good at What You’re Good At

By Mary Hodgkins on December 27, 2016

We all like to do things we’re good at. I’ll be honest: when I moved to London to be an Apprentice, I thought I was doing something I could be good at.

Instead, I find myself having several confusing conversations about computers and cords and Wi-Fi every Sunday—somehow I’ve effectively become the “computer person” at church (can I get a “Sorry, WHAT?” from everyone who knows me). On Monday nights, I jump and sweat to very loud music in my bhangra dance class at the local high school. Every week, the instructor tells me, “Co-or-di-nation. You must have more coordination!”

Of course, my weakness goes far deeper than a lack of coordination and no understanding of what an HDMI cord is or does. I regularly find myself feeling clueless and helpless. I don’t know what to say to my friend who failed an important government test for citizenship, or how practically to love and talk about Jesus to Youth Club kids whose teenage years are so different from mine. I don’t know how to be a good friend in this still-new setting, something I prided myself on at home.

What do you do when what you thought was one of your greatest strengths is actually a huge weakness?

I love people. I’m good at loving people. I’ve been sure of this all my life. I like to remind people that I’m a people person: “No, I don’t want to pet your dog—I’m not an animal person; I’m a people person.” “It’s hard for me wrap my mind around that idea—I’m not an idea person; I’m a people person.” I love people.

But really, loving people is lot harder than it seems (surprise, surprise). Maybe in the past I’ve had a glimpse every once in a while at the true state of my heart towards others, but only in the last few months has God opened my eyes a bit more to see the depth of my inability to love. When do I do anything out of purely unselfish motives?

It’s been a painful revelation, one that’s come through hard conversations with my mentor (Serge Apprentices have regular meetings with a mentor), my friends, my sister, and even my bosses. I knew I was rubbish at most technology, but I always held onto my “love” for others, which very often ended being not much more than a selfish niceness to get them to like me.

So what do you do when the bubble has burst? When the rug is gone from under you? This spring I’ve found myself holding on tightly to something that doesn’t exist—my perfect love for my friends and my family.

I have a few options in this situation:

I can pretend ignorance. I am who I’ve always been! I love people and I’m good at it! I will end up lost and ashamed when my love fails and I’m revealed as a fake.

I can sit in my failure. I will never be able to be a true friend to anyone or love anyone! I will turn inward in my despair.

Or I can think really hard about how best to love people. I can ask them, pray for wisdom, and spend hours in the middle of the night trying to figure it out so I won’t fail. But I will fail—I’ve already failed.

Praise God that in His love and mercy He has provided a way out of my mess. I have another option: I can look at Jesus’s love for me. To quote from Sally Lloyd-Jones, only when I know His “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love” for me will I have any unselfish love to give to anyone else. And even then, I still mess up all the time. But I have to believe that God works through my weakness—that His strength, and His love, are perfected in it. Praise be to God for bringing His Kingdom in broken people!

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About Mary Hodgkins