My senior year of high school, I had a GPA of 2.3. Obviously, I was very social and loved to chat and meet people and be involved in every activity, but studying and preparing for class, well…they were not my strong points. Regardless, my senior year I worked in the office with all the counselors and principals of the school. One of the counselors, Mrs. Bishop, took a real interest in me. She knew my personal story and began to research colleges that might accept a GPA of 2.3 and an SAT score of 790. She found a school about 90 minutes away. She filled out an application form and attached a personal check for $80.00. Four years later in May 1989, I graduated from Winthrop College (now University)…the first person to graduate in my family unit.
At 28, my church invested in all of its leadership to take a Spiritual gifts test. I tested high with the Spiritual gift of Exhortation and Teaching. One of the associate pastors, Mitch Reid, felt that I had a natural calling to be a great teacher. He encouraged me to study and to show myself worthy and a year later, I taught my first class…Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby. For 20 years, I have continued to serve God in the area of teaching, because someone clearly saw it in me first before I could see it myself.
Three years ago, my husband remarked that my eyes would light up whenever I would see or hear stories from students I taught at the Upstate Co-op. He wanted me to find a career that would “light me up” in the same way, and we wrestled through what that might look like as an empty nester. We researched program after program and prayed and considered the cost to our family both financially and in terms of energy expense and made the leap of faith for me to invest in training for my first Gallup StrengthsFinder certification, of which now I have three.
What do each of these stories have in common? Each of these stories (and many others I could tell) reflect a scripted time in my life when someone chose to give witness to a version of me that I could not see of myself. They inspired and helped me and believed that I could be something better, stronger, and more beautiful than I had the prescript to believe. They cared about me enough to help me see a new paradigm of myself.
These experiences have taught me many things: 1) Emotionally healthy people are steady enough in themselves to encourage greatness in someone else and not feel threatened by it. 2) These people chose to call out unseen potential in me rather than allowing their memory of past failures to rule their thoughts. 3) I had to have a teachable spirit to accept the positive encouragement in the right way. 4) God was using each of them to guide me to a purpose for my life.
Stephen Covey states “Most people are a social mirror, scripted by the opinions, the perceptions, the paradigms of the people around them. What if you were a positive scripter, an affirmer, of other people? When they are being scripted to take the lower path, you inspire them to take the higher path because you believe in them.” Be the type of person that sees the good in others rather than labeling them with a negative assumption.