No two individuals have the same DNA, so DNA is often used to confirm a person’s identity. But there is another way to distinguish individuals from each other. This technique does not occur in a scientific laboratory, but rather in the laboratory called your soul.
A laboratory is a place where knowledge is pondered, assumptions are tested and learning takes place. Those are exactly the kinds of activities you must pursue deep in your soul so you can identify the unique package God placed within you: a distinct combination of strengths, limitations and passions, that once you understand, will reveal the specific work God needs you to do.
When you do not do this work within your soul, you remain ignorant of the path God created for you. Not knowing this path, you cannot follow it, and therefore short-change yourself as well as everyone God has placed around you, including your family, friends, co-workers, and casual acquaintances. Some of these people are in your life for long periods of time and some pass through rather quickly, yet all were intended to benefit from your life, your path, and your vocation.
The other thing that becomes clear when you understand what distinguishes you as an individual is what you shouldn’t do. Many people have a hard time saying ‘no’ if the cause seems worthy. But an inability to say ‘no’ can mean you don’t have enough time and energy to do the work God intended you to do. It can also lead to burnout.
Parker Palmer, author and educator, shared his thoughts on the importance of knowing who you are when we discussed his book Let Your Life Speak:
You have a God-given nature. You need to discover and respond to that nature rather than responding to all the external pressures and demands that want to steer you in a different direction. Listen to that voice deep within, and then follow what you hear.