Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)It would be years until I realized the value of the many talents God gave me and understood the talents “I had” didn’t necessarily come easy for others. When I became a teacher, I learned that my struggles as a student helped me to be more empathetic toward those who also struggled. These “insecurities” were gifts because they helped me to be a better teacher. I could relate to my students and get on their level. My approach to learning helped students who might have thought their inabilities made them less significant, just as I had thought years earlier. In fact it wasn’t until I started teaching that I could truly see these struggles were gifts. I thought God only gave gifts of success, not of failure. Image credit: By Nynne Schrøder (2018), Unsplash.com, CC0/PD[/caption] Yet I still didn’t feel that gifts of success like cooking were very special until I met my friend Sarah, who didn’t know her way around the kitchen. She loved to try new foods but understanding the concept of “marrying ingredients” to form that perfect recipe was so mind-boggling and, in fact, a very frustrating experience. I never realize her lack of skill was an insecurity. One day I brought up the idea that I would teach Sarah how to make some basic recipes that she could freeze and reuse later. Little did I know that I was speaking some of the most magical words. One afternoon, I sought out to teach her how to make spaghetti sauce and it hit me: This is her math homework! This is the area that she doesn’t get but I do! This was my gift from God and I didn’t even know I had received it! While I had never appreciated it to its fullness she appreciated my gift. She felt completely lost in the kitchen; she felt “dumb” or perplexed, just as I did in math. My excelling in the kitchen was a gift from God, and my failing at math was also a gift! Over time, I’ve realized that God intentionally allows us to excel in some areas and not in others. It is in these areas of success and failure where God sets out the task to help us grow. He puts people in our lives to teach us and us to teach them.
There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. (1 Corinthians 12:5-6)God was giving me the same gift that Maia had at math, just a different modality. Our God is perfect, and every good and perfect gift is from above. Image credit: Unsplash.com (2017), CC0/PD[/caption] Ponder the gifts God has given you. Do you recognize your natural abilities as God-given gifts? What misfortunes have you endured that have turned out to be great gifts? How can you celebrate and thank God for these gifts and use them for His greater glory?
For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (Romans 12: 4-8)
Copyright 2019 Andrea Bear
About the Author
Andrea Bear is a wife, mom, and teacher in Northern California. She runs a blog called Life in the Grace Lane and also contributes to Catholic Stand and Today's Catholic Teacher magazine. When she's not writing or taking her kids to volleyball practice you can find her sipping coffee from the neighborhood coffee establishments or tasting wine from the local vineyards.