Wednesday, April 9, 2008


I began an 8 week course at church on Wednesday nights called LifeKeys. My pastor is leading it and it is a wonderful outlet for me. I get out of the house and get to spend time with people I really like and only see once a week at church.

LifeKeys is kid of similar to What Color is Your Parachute. You might remember that book. I read it years ago as I was trying to discover who I was and where I might best use my talents. LifeKeys is different is that it really is focused on identifying the gifts that God gave you and how you might use them for the betterment of the Kingdom of God.

The first working session we had to identify our Life Gifts... the things we do well, come naturally and are enjoyable to us. We had to make a distinction between what we do well but do not enjoy or that comes at an expense to our lives whether that is stress, dampening of the spirit and other negatives. There were six types of Life Gifts... you may find yourself having strengths in a number of them or primarily in one or two. The categories are Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional.

Now I have always felt myself to be an introvert. I like to be alone. I love quiet. Social settings always made me anxious. (Some good medication has helped with that one.) But I did find that I was heavily social. My highest scores were in the Social category with three additional gifts in Artistic.

As a college student I majored in English. Reading and analyzing literature fed my introverted self. It fit. I was a Resident Assistant. I was in charge of a floor of women during my senior year. After what campus security called a "donnybrook" on my floor by the Irish officer that responded to it the Dean of Students asked if I had ever thought of being a counselor. What? No, never. I thought nothing of her comment for years.

Eventually I did enter the mental health profession. I felt called by God in the work I did at Gould Farm. I lived in an intentional community with people coping and striving with mental illness. I eventually became Clinical Coordinator of the program structured around more independence for residents. And because God was so present there I made the decision to go to Seminary so I might understand how to mesh the spiritual and the psychiatric.

During my four years at Vanderbilt Divinity School I studied pastoral counseling, did a number of units in Clinical Pastoral Education at the VA Hospital. I was both a part time Chaplain intern during my first year and a full time Chaplain Resident on the Psychiatric ward during my final year.

I tell you all this because here comes the list of my Life Gifts. I wanted to take this course because I need to start thinking about what i am going to do with my time once the kids are in school. I feel a bit disconnected from what I thought God wanted me to do with my life. It was so clear before I had children and seems so far away now. So taking the time to reassess is important to me. Here is the list:

  • understand and counseling others
  • listening and facilitating
  • evaluating people's character
  • being empathetic and tactful
  • being of service
  • conversing and informing
  • teaching
  • photography/graphic arts
  • creative expression through color
  • working with others
  • music
As I said, there are a couple at the end of the list which are my artistic gifts. They correspond to my hobbies and interests outside work. But the others are most definitely gifts that have brought me the most fulfillment in work setting and are the way I approach most of my life.

This week we are looking at spiritual gifts... tonight in fact. But I will not be able to attend because Doc has late clinic hours tonight. I guess i will do the work myself and see what i come up with.


Coffee Bean said...

Very interesting Miss Stephanie! I think it is good to know what your gifts are. I'm not sure what mine are... kind of sure of what they are NOT! LOL!

Elysa said...

Sounds good. Wish we were closer and I'd babysit for you in a heartbeat! Or Anna says I'd volunteer my daughters to babysit. ;)