“A gift, of course, is meant to be given, which is why it’s so brutal when we can’t figure out what ours is, or when we know what it is, but we’re too lame to act on it: here we have the perfect gift to share with the world, just bursting to be opened, and we keep it sitting there, wrapped tightly in a box, growing old and gathering dust. Oh the waste! The agony!
Every single person is born with unique and valuable gifts to share with the world. Once we figure out what ours are, and decide to live our lives putting them to use, that’s when, and only when, the real party begins. Living a life on purpose is available to everyone.” ~Jen Sincero
One of my favorite questions to ask people when I’m first getting to know them is what gifts they have. The sad truth, however, is that the response is typically a bumbling, him-haw, blushing, “Gosh, I don’t know” kind of answer.
WHY DON’T WE EVEN KNOW OURSELVES?
Sometimes, I interpret that to mean they honestly haven’t ever taken the time to properly self-reflect. Other times I think it is an attempt to appear appropriately modest and humble.
If it’s the former, I want to shake them a little bit and say, “Hey, you need to know this stuff! It’s time to figure it out—it’s important! The rest of us are suffering the fate of not getting what you have to give, so get on it already!” Maybe this means some prayerful soul-searching or test taking or just getting over ourselves and asking our friends, “Hey, what do you see in me that I maybe don’t see in myself?“
OR WHAT IF WE DO, BUT WE COVER IT UP?
In the case of the latter, I want to elbow them in the side and say, “Come on, really?! Do you think God would craft a special, personally designed gift for you hoping that you would open it up, peek inside to see what it is and then carefully wrap it back up so as to not show it off too much?”
The ironic truth, however, is that I’ve needed an elbow in my side too. In the past, I’ve tucked my writing away, fearful that I might become prideful if it gained too much attention. At times I’ve kept quiet about the fact that I enjoy public speaking because it’s not “typical” and I’ve worried others would think me self-seeking. I’ve felt bad that my house is neat and clean because I know so many other people are not naturally organized and I don’t want them to feel like I’m trying to put on a false front of projected perfection. But here is the reality that often snaps me back into focus: The gift (whether it’s reading speeches in front of classmates, identifying flowers or consistently balancing a checkbook like a rockstar) isn’t really just for you, it’s to be shared, it’s to be used. It’s designed to bring God glory!
GIFTS FOR A ONCE AND DONE TIMEFRAME?
One thing I’ve enjoyed observing in my own life and in the lives of those around me is how our gifts are not static and frozen. Instead, they are dynamic and evolve over time. The little Heather that liked to surprise her mom with a clean house or organized pantry is now able to volunteer at a thrift store and whip a disheveled area back into sensible shape. So maybe it shouldn’t be a shock that little me who wrote a paper for her DARE class in 3rd grade and then happily read it in front of the school, might still enjoy writing and talking now!
Can you imagine looking at your child or niece or nephew and saying, “The things you enjoy doing now are ok, for now, but there will come a time in the future in which we are going to ask you to tuck these away because they will no longer be useful, relevant or appropriate.” Please in the name of all that is good and holy, NO! Am I right? So why would we ever consider this to be sound personal advice? Why would we seek to cover, downplay or dilute our giftings?
ARE YOU HIDING YOUR GIFTS?
I want to challenge you to answer:
What are your gifts? What things flow out of you without prodding? What kind of positive actions/thoughts/reactions are almost second nature to you? And perhaps more importantly: Are you both owning them and using them?
If not, get on it already!