Being a parent is a blessing. Also a great challenge. I try so hard to set a good example for my girls, in everything I do and in everything I say. Sometimes I do a great job; sometimes I fail miserably. But, no matter the day, the choice, the struggle, the argument, the decision, I always come back to the same motto, one I have said countless times as a parent: “Use your gifts”. So simple really. Use your gifts. Three words, so powerful, something that should be so easy, but sometimes is quite simply, ignored.
We all have gifts, talents, skills and the like, things about us that are easy, that come naturally, without effort. These are our gifts. We just have them. But for so many, our gifts are ignored, pushed aside, made unimportant or hidden.
Many do not know or recognize their gifts. For some, it is simpler to know what our gifts are NOT. For me, the gifts I do not have were easy. Math is not my gift. I can not do much without a calculator. Logic games have always seemed illogical to me. Patience is not my gift. I am quick to form an opinion, quick to react, quick to decide, quick to judge, quick to speak, quick to intervene, quick to do almost anything. Being tall is not my gift. I am short. My pants never fit correctly. I cannot reach anything without a chair, a ladder, or a stool. I am little, small, short- always have been, always will be.
When I was growing up, I wanted to be so many things- a famous artist, a writer, but more than anything, a mother. God blessed me with two smart, beautiful girls. Not perfect, of course, but perfectly mine. Are my daughters my gift? No, because while they will always be my daughters, I only have the privilege of guiding them for a few more short years, and then they will be off on their own, finding their own lives, their own way, finding their gifts.
As a mother, I have found myself telling my girls over and over to use their gifts. They have such amazing gifts. Their gifts are so clear to me, yet have never been clear at all to them. I argue and lobby for them both to recognize, appreciate, and use their gifts. My youngest is brave, compassionate especially towards animals, and has my gift of advocacy; she uses these gifts and I am helping her to grow in them and use them to her benefit. She is also gifted musically; she can play instruments and she has a beautiful voice; I was told not once but twice by two different teachers that she has perfect pitch. I am not a musician. I know nothing about pitch, but understand this gift is not learned or developed: you have it or you don’t. She can play the guitar and the piano. She amazes me with her musicality . Her gift. But she takes it for granted. She is disinterested. She doesn't see it as a gift.
She also has the gift of height. She is 5’7 and beautifly tall and still growing. Her height is a gift. She can walk into a room and is almost always seen and noticed. She can reach anything. She has the physical size to dominate in the soccer field, being taller than most her age. But she hates being so tall, and often-times will slouch to make herself seem shorter. She does not use or see her height as a gift. It is clear to me, but it is no gift at all in her eyes.
My oldest daughter also has amazing gifts. She is wise beyond her years. She was born with an old soul, a unique heart and mind for understanding others. She is compassionate, no-nonsense, funny, and driven. While she puts most her gifts to use, like her sister, she does not see any of these qualities as gifts. While incredibly self-confident, her gifts remain subdued; though I know one day they will make her the incredible young woman she is on her way to becoming.
I have spent the last 25 years of my life as an attorney, most of those years practicing family law. Over these many years, I have been advocating for my clients’ rights, so I have learned that one of my true gifts is advocacy. I fight for my clients, their children, their money, their homes, and most everything that is important to them. I have been blessed with a very successful law practice, and in my heart I know the success I have is due to the use of my gift. Like so many, like my children, I didn’t always recognize my gift, but I never had anyone tell me how important it was to know your gift, to develop your gift, or to use it.
I now know that although I am small and short, my physical appearance allows others to underestimate me, and to be shocked when such might comes from such small bones. I know that being quick to react and to judge can be negative traits, but they have also benefited me in my work at times when I use them in a positive manner. I also know that although I am not math-minded, having a disadvantage like that has forced me to rely on others at times, which has expanded my contacts and knowledge and taught me to be humble in the things I do not know. I have spent my life focusing on weaknesses, and am learning that in areas that I considered myself ungifted, I actually have grown most from those pitfalls. In doing so, it has also shown light on my more gifted areas and taught me to harness those gifts for great things.
I hope to continue to encourage my daughters to recognize their gifts, appreciate them, foster them, and use them, but also to find ways to turn their shortfalls into gifts of their own.
Ask yourself what your gifts are. A simple but important question. Then ask yourself, what areas am I weak in, and how can I make those weaknesses benefit me. See how quickly your life changes when you simply start to harness the obvious and not so obvious gifts that God has blessed you with, and continue to pass the lesson on to our next generations.