We’ve been hearing teaching on spiritual gifts at church for the past few weeks. It’s been really good. It got me thinking (yet again) about the gifts God has given me and am I using them.
I’ve always pondered this question. When I was younger, I took several different spiritual gifts inventories/tests. But trying to life my life by those answers didn’t bring a lot of fulfillment. In fact, it often brought frustration. I wonder if I answered some of those questions with how I wanted to feel about and respond to situations, not how I actually did. But things are coming clear now, perhaps because I’m older and I know myself better or because this teaching has been a bit less convoluted than previous ones.
I used to mistake my love of study as a teaching gift. But I don’t long to impart my knowledge to others in a teaching capacity. Instead, my study of the Word allows me to encourage others with Scripture. I used to think I had the gift of administration. But while I am somewhat organized, left to myself, things often fall apart. I’ve learned to be organized. I encourage others to work at discipline and organization in their own lives. But it isn’t inherent in my makeup as a person.
So now I see. In everything I do, my underlying motivation is encouragement of others. When I write, my heart’s desire is to encourage my reader to press on, to grow in their faith, to the do the right albeit hard thing, etc. In my friendships and my family relationships, it is natural for me to say “you can do it” or “you’re doing great, keep at it.”
And I feel fulfilled and at peace knowing that this is what God has made me to do.
Case in point: I am not a cook. It just isn’t in me. When we were first married (in 6 weeks it will be 20 years ago), I tried. But on a $20 a week grocery budget, mistakes cost too much. When my kids were little, my best friend (Lucy to my Ethel) convinced me we could cook once a month and freeze everything. We did. For a few years, we had decent meals. But it wasn’t really due to me. If I hadn’t had Robin in the kitchen with me, it would have been a disaster! Then that, too, fell by the wayside. So for the past few years its been a rotation of baked chicken, tacos, spaghetti, a roast in the crockpot—you get the idea. Nothing creative. Nothing exciting. I felt like such a failure as a woman, a wife, a mother.
This past year, my daughter has discovered a love of cooking. She is creative, artistic, patient. She loves the process and the finished product. She is discovering gifts of giving and hospitality where her food is concerned. And we’ve been eating great! But the best part? I feel so at peace. She is using the creativity and talent God has given her and while I’ve been available to help when needed, I mostly encourage her to keep trying when she occasionally fails and voice my amazement at her every culinary accomplishment. Suddenly, I don’t feel like a failure anymore!
It feels good to finally be beyond the need to have a more visible gift. It feels good to use my gift with my family and friends, which, in most cases, is using my gift to build up the church (in a universal sense.) And it feels good to know that day by day, as I sit in my house and write, that too is a manifestation of the gift God has woven into the fabric of my life.