The stuff we’re great at and our insecurities
There is a definite connection between our God-given gifts and our deepest insecurities. I’m convinced the enemy uses these things we are so good at, the ones that come so naturally to us, to also tempt us toward insecurity. These talents become center stage in our lives and as such become incredibly important to us.
What if we really aren’t that good at _________ (fill in the blank)? What if my gifts aren’t valuable to those around me? What if none of the important people I know notice them? Deep long-term friends deliver us reality about what we are good at and not so good at. They are the ones bold enough to direct us in humility and in confidence. A candidate for a life-long friend is able to discern one’s strengths and will hold his tongue on the criticism.
I’m fascinated with the 2001 Ron Howard film called a Beautiful Mind. Russel Crowe plays the brilliant anti-social mathematician John Nash who is in search of acceptance and significance. As an intellectual he wanted to matter. His pursuit of significance morphed him into an extremely insecure and narcissistic personality. On the roof of his dormitory at Princeton he quips to his roommate “Find a truly original idea. It is the only way I will ever distinguish myself. It is the only way I will ever matter.”
John Nash’s gifting in mathematics was exceptional. In 1994 he shared a Nobel Prize. John Nash also dealt with paranoid schizophrenia. It is easy to judge on the outside, and I in no way have the mathematical faculties John Nash has. Who knows what it would be like to be that smart. I wonder though if there is a correlation between being paranoid and obsessive thoughts about ones own significance.
Three weeks ago, one of my best friends off the cuff said “I think your writing might be one of your greatest gifts.” The statement infused me with energy. It felt like a huge B12 shot. I went home and started banging away at the keyboard. Three weeks later an equally respectable friend said “Shea, you’re getting a little high on yourself. I need to bring you down to earth.” Both were right. Both were willing to give me reality.
Here I am on the see-saw of what I am really good at and what I am not. I am thankful for these guys, bold in their assessments of my gifts. I believe everyone of us desperately needs friends. Especially the ones that share with us reality. They may actually be whispering to us God’s voice.