I wanted to write a post last week as we approached Mother’s Day, but life’s circumstances kept me from it. Life isn’t what it used to be and it seems to be crowding out my passions more and more, but maybe the delay was there to give me time to think a little differently. Maybe this post needed a “twist”
Many of you who know me or have read my blog for the past few years know that I did not give birth to children of my own. I used to say I was not “blessed” with children of my own, but I have tried to change the way I look at it. Children are certainly a blessing from God, but so is every other gift with which God blesses us. And just like it is the responsibility of a mother or father to nurture, grow and raise his/her child, it is our job to nurture, grow and raise our appointed gifts. One gift from God is not greater than another and if we are living as we should, we will not treat them as such – in ourselves or in looking at those around us. God entrusts all of us with specific gifts that require sacrifice, patience, responsibility, passion, love in order to raise them. Those gifts also often bring us disappointment, frustration, and heartaches as we see them not turning out the way we planned, or when we make mistakes in how we raise them.
We need to start looking at our lives differently. We need to open our eyes to the world around us and recognize where we are being called to serve. It’s just so incredibly easy to get lazy and not walk out the path for which we are chosen. It’s easier to become a lazy parent of our gifts. It’s easy to feel those gifts tugging at us for attention but simply offer up something to keep them occupied so that we can go on living the lives WE want instead of realizing the importance of doing the hard work that comes with nurturing and growing that which God placed within us. I admit, I have often found myself the lazy parent of my gifts. This blog has many times reminded me of it. The intentions are good but the execution is lacking. I have made excuses in my mind for all the reasons that keep me from my writing, or working on my books, or doing something with my music, or reaching out to find opportunities to speak. I’m not saying the distractions aren’t valid, because most of them are, but I am saying that it is easy to give up and stop trying whenever life gets too complicated or too busy. Just like a parent with a child, sometimes I’m just too tired to put in the effort anymore. In the long run, that not only makes me feel I’m failing as the parent/steward of my gifts, but it can also have lasting impacts on the effectiveness of those gifts or what they turn out to be.
We really are all gifted in certain ways. God has given to each of us the abilities and interests we need in order to fulfill what we are called to do. He has equipped us to walk whatever paths are before us, and He has promised to go with us wherever we go, but there are times those paths (or those gifts) feel like a burden. I don’t know a parent who hasn’t had times of feeling burdened by the responsibility of raising his/her children. It doesn’t mean they don’t love their kids, but the reality of day-to-day living is far more challenging than anticipated. There are discouragements and frustrations that come along that make them question if they are doing the right things or dealing with their kids in the best ways to ensure they grow up to be good people. The same is true of our other gifts and talents. We know what we are called to do, or we recognize the gifts within us, but it is a continual learning process as to how we need to nurture them. We make decisions that involve our gifts and then second guess if that was really the best use of them. Other times we make obvious mistakes in the direction we go and then beat ourselves up for it.
Living with purpose isn’t easy in the chaos of our busy lives. Just like parents can become so distracted by everything that is continually pulling at them, we can get distracted by so many things the enemy devises to keep us from nurturing what God has given us. We can become so overwhelmed by our lives that we no longer even see our gifts, let alone know how to use them. We end up lost in a sea of fear, doubt, depression or anxiety and then feel like giving up. Being overloaded with life makes us want to just zone out and not have to consider our never-ending responsibilities.
There is another aspect of parenting that also applies greatly to our gifts: protection. Parents must protect their children, and we must also protect our gifts. Our talents, abilities and callings must be protected. People can be so mean and so incredibly judgmental of what we do with our lives. They can discourage us, or even try to forbid us from using our gifts when it doesn’t fit their ideas or beliefs about what we should be doing. People may even belittle the gifts themselves, making them seem meaningless or trivial when compared to the gifts or talents of others. For example, someone with the ability to be a great musician, speaker, athlete or business-man/woman are often lauded to have great gifts. It is “respectable” or “honorable” to be a doctor, lawyer, singer, athlete, etc. On the other hand, the man or woman who is gifted to understand people with disabilities, or to clean homes/buildings, drive a bus, or anything else that isn’t as “shiny,” are viewed as having lesser gifts. What about people who have the gift of praying or service? You know them, the ones who are quietly faithful to do whatever it is God has given to them to do, without accolades or applause. Are their gifts any less valuable? On the contrary, I’d say they have the greatest gifts of all! My point is that we don’t know each other’s children as well as know our own, and the moment we start thinking our gifts are better than someone else’s just because they look different, we are treading on very thin ice.
Maybe we don’t think we received the gifts we should have, or the gifts we wanted, but they are chosen for us by the God who spoke the worlds into order and knows everything ahead in our journeys. That’s a pretty impressive and special thing to consider. God doesn’t expect us to all be able to do the same things because He didn’t equip us to do the same things. We need to stop looking at other people’s “children” and comparing them to our own. What matters is how you raise YOUR gifts! If you are called to serve, then serve with all your heart. If you are called to pray, then pray mightily without doubting (as James 1 tells us). If you are called to encourage, then do it. If you are called to be a doctor, then be the best doctor you can be! Whatever it is that you do, it is important because God chose you to do it. Your prayers, service, cleaning, listening, forgiving, helping are equally as important as the brain or heart surgeries, arguing court cases, landing planes, or anything else.
So today, I hope we will all step back and consider the gravity of parenting our respective gifts. It is a responsibility, and it can be difficult and disappointing at times, but it can also be a source of great joy! You are not here by chance, and you are not here to just take up space. We are here “for such a time as this,” and we need to turn our focus upward. We need to live according to the love, grace, mercy and forgiveness that has been given to us by our Heavenly Father and extend those things to the world around us. We need to encourage each other’s gifts, not envy them. We need to support each other, not tear each other down. We need to recognize the specialness of our own gifts from God and feel honored to be entrusted with raising them. There may not be a holiday here on earth to commemorate or honor us for the raising of our gifts, but if we do it humbly as we are called to do, there is coming day where we will be honored by our Heavenly Father when we hear the words, “Well done.”