There is a woman I know. She's amazing. She's organized, methodical, spiritual, intelligent, physically active and fit, patient, a great mother, a supportive and loving wife, an academic scholar and wise in common sense, she's a leader and a follower and knows when to play which role, she's musical, theatrical and artistic. I love this woman but every time I'm around her she makes me feel badly about myself. Though not directly or intentionally, she makes me sad, depressed and not good enough. This woman's talents and gifts far exceed mine and when I'm around her my vision of my talents and gifts gets muddled and fuzzy at best.
This woman represents a combination of things I wish I could be or at least be better at. This woman seems to have it all and she castes a mighty big shadow. It wasn't until I read 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, that I was able to begin identifying who this woman really was. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 talks about the gifts given by the Holy Spirit and how one person might be given the gift of wisdom, but the other the gift of knowledge. Why, I wondered, did this woman in my life seem to have it all and I seemed to have the plastic spork to her fine silver?
I quickly discovered that this unnamed woman was a manifestation of my desires. This woman was only as real as I made her. She was my ideal woman, the one I created in my imagination, the one I molded out of clay and made my target goal. This was my idea of who I should be and it was a mighty tall order, one rather impossible to attain. I also realized that I found this ideal waving back at me through the eyes of other real women in my life. Friends of mine who had great gifts and talents in different areas would be elevated by my own judgments and perceptions. A friend of mine who is great at being physically active became the physical representation of my unnamed ideal woman and then jealousy began to brew. I started to project my growing disdain for my ideal woman onto those who exhibited the gifts and talents.
I read further into 1 Corinthians 12 where the text talks about the Body with many members. The body of Christ remains today through the community of many members. This body can't have all arms, or all heads...it needs each and every part. If I'm the nose, I won't ever be a talented foot, but I can be one heck of a nose. I know this sounds silly, but the point here is that the Holy Spirit manifests itself in the community, the body of Christ, in the form of different gifts and talents. We are empowered by these gifts to do what we have been called to do. What God has created me to do, might not be what my friend has been called to do. This doesn't make me any less valuable than my friend, it just means that my talents and gifts are else where and for other purposes.
Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. We have ideal images in our heads of what we should be, what we think we are expected to be and what we expect ourselves to be. When we fall short of these ideals and than encounter someone who is stronger at something than we are, than we start to beat ourselves up and think we're not good enough. So am I not good enough, do I have no value if my dinner isn't on the table on time? What if my child is in the bathtub five minutes longer than he might need to be? What if I don't get everything on my "To Do" list done in one day? Get the gist?
Once we are able to identify what our gifts and talents are, as we work with God to identify them, then we can begin to identify what our fruit might be. For example, I'm in ministry, but as much as I love music, I know my gifts and talents are not for music ministry. It's then that I would need to discover where my gifts and talents fit. I believe God has a call on each of our lives, our job is to journey to discover what that call is. And along the way, we need to learn to be good to ourselves when we don't quite measure up to our ideal. The body of Christ, this community of believers, needs each and every part. We can't all be the mouth, or the eye, or the ear.
Discover yourself and be authentically you.
In what ways do you practice being authentically you?
How do you celebrate your gifts and talents?
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