Monday, September 10, 2007

Withholding Our Gifts

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.......


Anonymous said...

Thank you Stephie....... and you know who this is. I will either talk with you later about it, or I will email you when I get a chance.

Jodi said...

Ok, here are my thoughts.

I think it is a bummer when people withhold talents that could bless others, like singing, writing, sports, etc. But I do think that this happens SOOO much more than we think. Really, we all have some talent, but not all of us use it. I'm not certain this is sin, but I do think it is unfortunate.

I read this earlier and thought about it while baking today and one thing crossed my mind. I think sometimes we look at love/forgiveness/compassion as "gifts" or "choices" we choose to put into practice or not, but I think that is the wrong way of looking at it. Sure, we might not be particularly compassionate, but we are all CALLED, commanded, to LOVE, forgive, show mercy and compassion to others. I would go as far as to say NOT doing these things would be sin. (ommission/commission) I think sometimes we take those spiritual gifts tests and score really low on one and then use that as an excuse to not exhibit that particular gift, which is just not okay. I also agree with your two reasons. So sure, we could choose to not sing which would be a bummer, but choosing to not be compassionate falls into an entirely different category, in my opinion.

I have more thoughts on the having kids issue...but I'll call it good at this long comment.

StephieAnne said...

Yes, I agree - I think I made it a bit too broad - and perhaps forgiveness wasnt the issue I should have used. I was more saying the GOING ABOVE AND BEYOND in the area of being loving or compassion (i.e - creating a deep relationship with someone or really going out of your way with someone). Great thoughts, Jodes.

HollieHobbie said...

It would be a sin if I thought I had the gift of singing and put you all through listening to me.

HollieHobbie said...

But lately I have really been convicted of Hospitality. It is something that I enjoy; it is something that I am partially good at, although, I have been getting a little rusty at it since I don't do it that often; and it is something that is needed around me. But I need to let go of the fact that I don't have the wall unit to put my tv in, I don't have the picture from Pottery Barn, I don't have blah, blah, blah that I think would make my house have a statement. Anyways, this was a great reminder at a great time in my life, Steph. Because I think God has been tugging to get me to host events and it is a sin if I ignore it.

StephieAnne said...

Thanks Hollie - and just remember, you and the warmth you exude are what make your home - not Pottery Barn (but I so understand!).

BellaArtGirl said...

i had just glimpsed at your post briefly the other day. Now upon reading it again more thoroughly, I really like the whole picture of what happens when this "withholding" of gifts occurs. In the busyness of life sometimes we don't see that it doesn't have to be a grand gesture, it can just be the walking through life together sharing the good, bad and ugly and knowing grace abounds. I think also things that we might naturally be consciously or unconsciously fearful or selfish about can also play into it. I know my response may sound cryptic but it is mostly to say I liked your post. It made me think about that issue in my life. A holding a mirror up to my face moment. Thanks.