For God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. — Romans 11:21
In my early 20s I was part of a mega-church outside of Chicago. I was heavily involved in the children’s ministry and the college and career group. One Sunday I was called out from the congregation during the middle of worship and asked to come to the front. The pastor said he had a Word from God for me.
I walked forward in front of a few thousand people. He stepped down from the stage and put his hands on my head. These words came pouring out over me along with a call to teach.
Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. — 1 Timothy 4: 12-16
I was young and impressionable. The world was an open door waiting for me to walk through it. I felt the fire would never die. And then it did.
I went through a series of unexpected life events that included working as the pastor’s home-school teacher, meeting a man on a trip to FL, a new engagement, then a broken engagement, an unexpected pregnancy, re-engagement, firing from my teaching job, a move to Florida, a wedding and a baby girl. All in less than a year.
To say the storms of life were swirling was an understatement. I was just barely 24 and life had changed so drastically. Of the ten most stressful events in life, I experienced six in two years: death of my father, breaking a relationship, reconciling a relationship, moving, marriage and birth of a child. Where was Jesus then to calm the storm?
The last thing I was thinking about, at that time, was living out my gifts. I was just trying to survive. I remember the month before Sadie was born I tried contacting the Department of Education to get my teaching license switched from Illinois to Florida and in order to do that you had to be hired full-time at a school on a temporary license and work for five years before they would issue a permanent license. How in the world would I have done that? I gave up.
Routines set in quickly. Habits harden into rituals. Unconsciously we carry on day after day after day doing the same old thing until we realize we’re not living. We’re simply letting life pass by with a complacent attitude of indifference.
At least that is how it was for me. They busy-ness of raising kids barely leaves time to take a shower much less re-invent yourself. So I did what I could. I became President of a local MOMS Club, helped fundraise for the Relay for Life and started back to teaching very part-time.
I still felt unfulfilled and lost. I felt invisible and unimportant. A facilitator to everyone else’s lives. That’s it. Have you felt that way too? That you have put everyone else before you, and your gifts have been dormant or forgotten?
If so, then you’re not alone. Nearly 70% of people feel unfulfilled in their life. Yet Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly.”
Giving up your gifts does not honor God. It’s time to be honest with yourself and admit that you are off course and you’re ready to do something about it.
So how can we re-awaken to the gifts and calling we felt so strongly in our youth? Here is what I did and maybe it will work for you too.
First, take an inventory of everything you are good at and really enjoy doing. What do others compliment you on? What advice do people regularly ask you for? What comes easy to you?
For me, writing has always been easy. I’ve written for the school newspaper and for parenting magazines, I’ve written books and blogs. It comes naturally. I also love public speaking and teaching…and I know that is not something most people love.
What about you? Do you love tinkering with computers? Editing videos? What magazines do you read for fun? What section of books do you search when you’re at Barnes and Nobles? This will help you reconnect to your gifts, if you are wondering what they are.
Next, take it one day at a time. What can you do today to take one step towards your gift? Can you call someone in that field? Send an email? Read an article? Write down some ideas? You don’t have to jump into the deep end, but be willing to dream again. Dip your toe in the shallow waters.
Finally, trust God. As you take small daily actions look for open doors. Expect them to open. Know that you are honoring yourself and God by allowing your gifts to re-emerge. Don’t focus too much on the details or try to control the outcomes. Be willing to be flexible and see where the flow will take you.
When I graduated with a teaching degree nearly twenty years ago I thought I would be teaching children in a classroom. Today, I am using my gift of teaching through writing and speaking to adults as a life coach. Who would have guessed it?
Design your life around your gifts and talents. Stop denying them. Be honest with your feelings of unfulfillment and be willing to take charge of your direction. God will not force His will on You. He will come along side you and support your choices and you can watch the world unfold at your footstep as you walk in faith back into your gifts and calling.
They are still there waiting for you. All you have to do is say YES.
Day 13 Lenten Love Prayer:
It’s been so long since I have considered my own feelings of unfulfillment. I have tried for so long to be content with what I hava and now I can see that it is not that I am ungrateful I am living outside of my gifts and calling. And therefore You have allowed a lingering discontent to sit on my shoulder to prod me back to what You know I would be gifted doing. Help me to have faith to take even the smallest step in that direction. Reveal to me ways that I can start to reawaken my desire to live in alignment with the gifts you have so generously given me. Forgive me for not trusting that they were valuable and for trying to do things my own way. Open doors that only You can open. Bring people my way who will help give me clear direction. Give me a peace that passes all understanding as I get honest with myself and live closer to You. May the way come smoothly because I know Your yoke is easy and your burden is light. I know You will give me rest. In my heart. In my body. In my mind. In my spirit. You know the way. I will follow.
Day 13 Scripture:
Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.
— 1 Corinthians 2:9