Several years ago, my mom made a decision. Despite the fact that she had surpassed the half century mark in her age (sorry, Mom - that didnt sound so good), she chose to enroll in college. She worked her tail off, studied hard, paid the money- all to recieve a certificate that allowed her to be a licensed massage therapist. She didnt have to. It wasnt for monetary reasons that she did all of this. It was because she believed she had a talent - I will go so far as to say a gift - and she decided to invest a lot of time, effort, emotions, and energy to eventually be able to share this gift with others. I cant tell you how thankful I am that she has. Were it not for my mom, I think I would have a much more depressed outlook on life as a result of a chronic neck issue. Because of Mom, I dont worry about it - I take each day at a time and know that when things get really bad, she will fix me up. I know that she has changed the outlook on a lot of peoples lives in much the same way. She made a decision to share her gift with others, took the risk - and it was a beautiful thing.
I bring all this up not because I want to suck up to my mom - she is family, her love for me and obligation to fix me is a sure bet. (Well, if I keep bringing up the half decade thing, maybe not so sure.....). But rather because she is a great example of something I have been laying in bed thinking about and finally had to get up and type about. What is our obligation as men and women to share the giftedness that we have been bestowed with? If one knows that he has a talent to sing, what is his moral obligation to share that with others? How about a person who is incredibly talented in writing - is able to express their thoughts in a way that makes others laugh, cry, or think deeply? Is it their ethical responsibilty to try to pursue getting this writing out there to others? Or the person who can teach - not just a class of fifth graders, but rather is able to explain something, or enlighten in such a way that causes others to see things in whole new light, is it wrong to withold this gift?
Maybe I havent hit a chord with folks yet. I will get broader here. How about the person who withholds the capacity within them to love. Perhaps they have been hurt so much, they are scared to, or they just dont feel like the love they have to share is worth anything to anyone. Yet, someone, out there, is not being loved because that person withheld their gift. Perhaps it is the gift of compassion you have, but you have yet to encourage another because of the effort or risk it might take. Perhaps, it is the gift of forgiveness you could share - forever altering the persons life who desperately needs that forgiveness. What about the couple who is scared to bring a child into this big, bad awful world - because they are scared of the parents they could end up being, or the trouble their child could end up becoming, or any other vast number of fears - and as a result of this decision, they withheld the world from another Jim Elliot, Billy Graham, Tiger Woods, or Zac Efron (had to add a little levity here.....!).
I have purposely, thus far, avoided the spiritual perspective of this line of thinking because I really do wonder, simply from a worlds perspective, what is our moral obligation to give the rest of our world the potential that we have been given within us?
I have a theory that the two main reasons people choose to withhold these gifts are fear and selfishness. What if we try and fail? What if what we think we have to offer turns out to be a disappointment to everyone around us? What if we get our heart broken one more time? I have to interject right now with a thought that just came to mind - what if John and Leona let that stop them from the relationship they had the opportunity to share over the last five or so years? With tears in my eyes I can share with you that they both had SERIOUS reasons as to why they could justify not investing in a relationship - way, way too much at stake. And, yet, they took the risk, shared their love, and both testified that their blessing in return for that investment was a realization of what love truly is. Was it worth the risk? - Oh, undoubtedly, YES - even as Leona is hurting so badly, yes, undoubtedly.
As for the other reason, well that is a no brainer. We choose not to take the risk, share the gift - whatever you want to title it - because we dont want to interrupt what is comfortable in our lives. It is not usually all that cozy and comfy to go out on a limb, I know - because I hold back a lot due to my desire to not be inconvenienced or put out. I long for comfort and coziness and the idea of pursuing something that puts that at risk - well, lets just say, I am guilty.
Am I proud of that? Nope. In fact, throwing spirituality into the mix now - I do believe God puts a big ol vacant empty unsettling place in our hearts that never quite gets filled until we do that thing that we know we have been gifted to do. Whether it is sharing an extraordinary talent, becoming a parent, or loving another - if we are supposed to do it - I dont think well ever feel total peace until we have at least tried to pursue it.
There is a reason that all of this has come to mind. There is a person in my life that has such gifts and is in a place of witholding them. This person has his or her reasons - it would take Dr. Phil or Dr. Laura 30 seconds with them and it would be pretty concrete as to why. However, I am praying for this person, who I discussed this issue with over the weekend. I am praying that this person will really examine what it is that is the true motivation - and if it is something that they believe God has led them to. If not, and God has a bigger plan, get set, my friend, because I am praying that you will not have a peace until you have let God have His reins as to what decision you should be making. Because, you are indeed gifted, and you have been surrounded by those that have shared their giftedness with you, and you have been blessed as a result. And, while you have certainly been a huge blessing to those whose lives you have touched, I am absolutely positive that there is even more you can share - and I am praying I will be able to witness the results when it happens.
Any thoughts on this? It is one of those late night, deep thought things for me, and definitely has me wondering about my own actions, and lack of actions. I wonder just how early in the morning it will be before I finally get to sleep now.......