“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
This great line from a Leonard Cohen song speaks to the tension between brokenness and redemption. We mourn the cracks and areas of woundedness in our lives, but it is often through those very cracks that light is able to penetrate into areas that would have otherwise remained in darkness. Most of us spend a fair amount of time mulling over our faults, giving significantly less mental thought and energy toward our gifts, talents, strengths, and positive distinguishing characteristics. But what can our faults—or rather proper examination of our faults— tell us about our gifts?
Our faults can help us identify the unique ways in which we are equipped to connect with people in ways that others cannot. In their book Healing the Purpose of Your Life, Dennis, Matthew, and Sheila Linn talk about how the things that we like least about ourselves can give us clues about our unique way of giving and receiving love. What is your initial response to this idea?
Maybe an example would be helpful. If you are someone who struggles with low self-esteem you probably have a keen awareness of the things that can positively or negative affect one’s self-esteem. Since it is a struggle for you, you have experience with the things that lift you up as well as the things that bring you down. Your experience of that struggle can give you a particular sensitivity and awareness to the inner nuances that contribute to a persons overall self-esteem. Perhaps one of your gifts, then, is a remarkable ability to come alongside others who struggle with low self-esteem and encourage them in deeply meaningful ways. You can probably do this in ways that someone without that “fault” could not possibly do with the same level of intent and compassion.
Something I have struggled with my whole life is a feeling of being overlooked, unnoticed, and unseen. As I started to explore this question of how my faults, or the things I like least about myself, can clue me into my areas of gifting, I realized that I have a strong facial recognition. I don’t have a photographic memory, I’m fairly average on those visual memorization tests, but I rarely forget a face. When I am in a room of people, I often find myself noticing those around me. I can’t help but take in the little nuance of people’s mannerisms, their level of comfort or discomfort, their introversion or extroversion—but most of all their faces. A person’s face to me represents a deeper story—a mysterious complexity of life circumstances, experiences, hopes, woundedness, and “han” (you can read my post On the Complexity of Sin and Human Action for more on this concept of han). Until recently, however, I never thought of this awareness of others as a reversal of one of the things I like least about myself. Maybe my struggle with feeling unnoticed has given me a unique ability to see, recognize, and reach out with kindness to those around me. We all want to be noticed, acknowledged, and seen. Perhaps one of my gifts—or at least a gift that can I begin developing more—is to help others be seen.
Of course this doesn’t mean that we don’t try to grow or find healing from our faults or the things we don’t like about ourselves. It is just a matter of accepting who you are right now and finding life-giving ways to live out of that—despite your imperfections. Our gifts are not contingent on perfection. Our faults can reveal some of our greatest strengths if we commit to examining them. It is often the “wounded healer” that is the most effective at bringing healing and wholeness to others.
Isn’t it better to spend more energy trying to be human than trying to be perfect?
So what are your faults? What are the things that you like least about yourself? How can you allow these “cracks” to let the light get in and clue you into your particular areas of gifting and strength?
Photo credit: Lance Baker [Loc.] Mỹ Sơn, Vietnam