At the entry to most serious relationships, the question asked or at least pondered, “What do you bring to the table?” Whether verbalized or tacitly observed, the wise individual desires to assess the potential success factor for the relationship before becoming too vested. Maturity achieved through life’s experience and relational intelligence secured through therapy sessions, audiobooks, reflective journaling, Bible reading, and prayer can assist us in not making the errors of our younger years. Most will testify that they have evolved beyond previous struggles. Hard work and commitment to goals have resulted in this fully furnished proverbial table. It is on this table that the results of focus and ingenuity are displayed; it offers a purview into one’s life work and the sacrifices required to obtain the reward of success. The table is a sacred place, and while it may appear orderly at present, the current state speaks to numerous battles. The table, expertly set, is the prize of the war – not with others, but with ourselves.
Conquering myself has been the most crucial battle of my existence. Maturity and life experiences offered me a glimpse at the hard truth: I can be my biggest enemy. It is easy to deflect blame to those around us. Still, when confronted with the fact that I am the common denominator in my interactions with others, introspection was in order. We are all gifted a set of circumstances that help shape our perspective and expectations regarding life and relationships. Unfortunately, those experiences will not all be pleasant, requiring varying levels of perseverance and eventual healing. As one who experienced the trauma of childhood sexual abuse, it was second nature to embrace the narrative of depression, limitations, and relational and sexual dysfunction. I was a textbook case, checking off many of the boxes on the clinical checklist. That, however, was not the problem. The problem was how I rehearsed my plight through degrading and limiting self-talk.
I countered every positive thing God said about me with a skewed perception of my worth and abilities. The words I spoke gave evidence to the despair in my heart. It was an endless cycle, as I said what I believed and believed what I said. Anyone courageous enough to offer me a seat at their table was inundated with the cracked dishes and dirty flatware of my dysfunction. My outer persona of confidence belied the turmoil of my soul, garnering invitations to tables of the prominent and influential. However, my brokenness inevitably peeked through, compelling me to dismiss myself from the table before I was asked to leave. I did not want people to see my flaws or inquire about my scars, so I would shrink back, avoiding interactions and ignoring emails and phone calls.
In this self-imposed isolation, I gathered the courage to confront myself about myself. Indeed, I have experienced significant trauma, heartbreak, and tragedy. This, however, are not unique. God empowers us to overcome struggles and transform our lives. A broken vessel can be a yielded vessel. I released my brokenness to the God who created me and found Him able to repair the crack while reminding me of His goodness through the scar. He does all things well.
Standing in the light of self-awareness and purpose, I no longer ask, “What do you bring to the table?” Instead, God is building a table for me that is fully equipped to execute the His vision. The furnishing at the table includes strategic partnerships, emotionally available family and friends, a licensed therapist, and leaders that hold me accountable. The table is set! Let’s eat!