I have 2 pretty “active” gifts. One is mercy. One is encouragement. I am a habitual encourager. My mercy gift means I am sympathetic. If I see you are crying, I want to know what’s wrong and I will be there to hold your hand and cry with you. That’s a pretty nice gift to have…helping others in need. Thanks God!
My encouraging many times goes hand in hand with the mercy gift. But it also means I’m a “fixer”. You know, some of us are married to fixers. I realized Steve was a fixer a long time before I recognized it in myself. Many, many moons ago, I remember where we were when I was telling him all about my desire for another child. Up until that point, God had not opened that door and Steve’s heart was not yet open to adoption. And I remember him giving me all these “tips” on working through the desires. And I was like, “Hey, I’m not asking you to fix this for me. I just want you to listen and be sympathetic.” That conversation stuck with him and he does listen more than he tries to fix now days.
But I am SO much the same way. As any of my semi-close friends will tell you, do NOT come to me with a problem unless you want me to try and fix it. Katelyn probably has to endure this more than anyone I am around because unfortunately for her, she likes to tell me her problems from time to time. I guess by now, she’s figured out that if she’s going to share, I’m going to fix.
However, along with being a fixer, comes encouragement. My friend, Julie, said to me recently, “You really take your encouraging gift seriously!”. But most times, I have no idea I’m doing it. I am just a perpetual cheerleader which can definitely be annoying sometimes. Because yeah, sometimes you just want to vent and not have someone try to fix it or encourage you. Sometimes a gift just needs to wallow.
Having the gifts of mercy and encouragement means you can walk someone all the way through a crisis. You can be sympathetic and a shoulder to cry on, but then you can also work with them through it. The truth is, I tend to draw people who are in crisis to me. I’m not talking about my close friends. They know me and we share our troubles and sorrows. I’m talking about truly random people…like one day at work, I had to track down a work acquaintance in another line of business whom I hadn’t talked to in several years. She ended up being out of the office and had to return my call. We talked about 20 minutes of which 5 was work related. The other 15 was her telling me about her elderly parents who were both sick and hard being an adult child to aging parents is (can I get an amen?!). And she wasn’t being a weirdo telling a virtual stranger her problems…but somehow I just drew her in.
Most times I dig getting into someone else’s problem (I was a psychology major, originally hoping to go into private practice) and helping them feel better make me happy. But sometimes…only sometimes…it gets hard. And tiring. And I don’t wanna. I don’t want to hear another problem. I don’t want to come up with another solution. I don’t want to feel sad for a friend who has a problem I simply CAN’T FIX.
Because sometimes you can’t fix them. Sometimes all you can do is listen to them cry. And that’s hard. It’s hard for a fixer. It’s hard to have no encouraging words for a habitual encourager.
But I’m forever thankful for these gifts God has given me. So, if you need a shoulder to lean on or an encouraging word…you know where to find me.