A few weeks ago for a Relief Society activity, we had Lynda Wilson come speak to us (she is the author of The Innkeeper’s Wife). She shared with us about how for a long time she compared herself to everyone around her — especially the women in her ward [church congregation].
For example, the women around her crocheted, so she wanted to learn how to crochet. She tried making a blanket for her baby that ended up being a trapezoid; her stitches were really tight at first, and then got looser and looser as she learned more. She decided crocheting really wasn’t really for her. She took a quilting class and tried to learn how to quilt. (She showed us the strips of her unfinished quilt as a visual aide.)
On and on she went, trying to find a domestic talent. She always compared herself to others and felt bad that she couldn’t do the things others could.
She had always loved reading and writing. Finally one day she realized that it was okay that writing was her gift. That she could use that talent to bless others, and that it was enough. She talked about how just because someone else can do something well (organize, cook, sew, cut hair, whatever…) doesn’t mean that we need to be able to do those things as well to be validated. Whatever our gifts are, it is enough, and that we can use them to bless others. It was such a wonderful message!
As she went around the room randomly asking people to share what their gifts are, I was scared. I didn’t want her to ask me what my gift was. I was feeling pretty depressed that night, and not feeling gifted at all. I honestly probably would have burst into tears and said that I possessed no gifts, for that was truly how I was feeling. I was racking my brain trying to think of something to say just in case she asked me. As I thought of things, my feelings of inadequacy just got worse. I thought, “I am a pretty patient person, I could say patience,” but I remembered how many times I had raised my voice at my children that day during the stress of trying to get ready for that night. I thought, “I am a good listener,” but then I remembered how I had not done a good job of listening to my husband the other day. I was feeling like there are a lot of things I used to be good at, but I had somehow let them all slip away.
I came home that night and read my scriptures. The next morning I read and prayed. The day after that I read and prayed. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what my gifts were. I had to have some, right?
Well, after a lot of thought, I came up with a few. I think I am a good listener and I am a patient person. Lack of sleep makes me not as good at those things, but in a normal (whatever that is) time of life, I am good at those things. I am also artistic. I love photography, and I am kind of good at it. I like to sew, and in the past couple of weeks I made a darling skirt and diaper cover for my daughter using only her other clothes as a pattern. It turned out almost exactly as I had imagined it! (I couldn’t find what I wanted in the stores so I decided to make it.) I also made her a Christmas stocking using my stocking as a pattern. I think these are my gifts, and I think I can use them to bless the lives of those around me. And that is enough. And that feels good.
Now it’s your turn. What are your gifts?
Hmm, my gift is happiness, and making others happy around me.
I know Lisa, and she is really good at photography and art. But she’s really smart and loyal too. Lisa makes a great friend. It seems so obvious to me what her gifts are.
My mom has a pretty fabulous garden in her backyard, but everytime she saw her neighbor she apologized for all the weeds. One time, her neighbor just stopped her and said, “From my window, I can’t see the weeds. All I see is the abundant and colorful flowers.” My mom felt better about her garden but as she thought about it more she felt like there was analogy for her self as well. My mom’s friends and neighbors are quick to overlook her weeds and just see the beautiful flowers or gifts she has. Although my mom is still weeding away, literally and spiritually, she has let this experience teach her to appreciate her talents as a blessing to her own life and those around her.
I think this is truly an important concept for women to understand. Too often and too easily we compare our worst to another woman’s best instead of recognizing unique talents and using them to serve others feel good about ourselves.
I tend to be too hard on myself, but people always tell me what a calm presence I am when I am conducting a meeting or teaching a lesson. I always feel nervous, but I don’t show it, I guess!
I dabble in a lot of things, not really perfecting any of them, but I am pretty good at baking, scrapbooking and other craft-y type stuff.
Great post. Enjoyed it.