How do we know what our Spiritual Gifts are? I believe we need only look as far as what our natural talents and skills are. But there is more to a Spiritual Gift. Spiritual Gifts are interesting, because they are layered. Our gifts are also the things about us that we were told are our weak links. Often they are the things we sometimes were punished for as kids. The things we have learned to hide because perhaps we were told we weren’t supposed to be that way. We were told to quiet it down. Control ourselves.
I was told at a young age that I talked a lot. Well, yeah, I knew that. I liked people. I liked to visit. I liked to tell them about my day and ask about theirs. At age 5 I single-handedly coined the phrase “I never met a stranger.” Not even kidding.
When I was little growing up in the beautiful picturesque Pacific Northwest my family and I would often go visit the majestic Mount Rainier National Park. If you have never been to the greater Seattle/Tacoma area (on a clear day) then this might be hard to picture. Mount Rainier is light blue. It’s the prettiest mountain I have ever seen. Mount Rainier boasts world-renowned wildflower meadows. It is worthy of a slow clap for God, as it is one of His greatest works.
This picture doesn’t even look real. I grew up looking at the Cascade Mountain range every day of my childhood . They were indeed quite real. I grew up in the 70’s. We didn’t have Photoshop. We looked at real mountains. We didn’t tweet about them. We admired them. We took pictures of them. We sometimes hiked them.
I loved going to explore Mount Rainier, but I didn’t like hiking it, per se. Back in the 1970s it wasn’t illegal to leave your child at the base of a mountain while you went hiking. My parents and siblings would leave me somewhere between the base of the mountain and about 47 steps up the trail. Then I was done. I wanted to explore and not hike. I would then be left to hang out, to wait, until my family hiked, enjoying their day and the views from higher up, and Kirsten the 7-year old was left behind. They knew I wouldn’t wander off. They told me to stay put and I always did. My mom has pictures to prove it. She took photos of me sitting down at the bottom, from up THERE where they were at. I need to ask her to scan them and email them to me. This way I will have proof that I was the child they “left in the dust”. Maybe I can use it against them if anything ever comes up later in life. If I happen upon any abandonment issues.
I didn’t mind; in fact I insisted upon it. I would sit there and wait for them. I would busy myself and pick wildflowers, catch fuzzy bumble bees, and talk to the people walking by. No one ever questioned that someone left their child at the base of a mountain in the 70s, to pick flowers and catch the bumbles. No one ever called CPS. I was clean, quite obviously articulate and friendly, and surely who ever left me there would come back to collect me. And indeed they always did.
I would talk to anyone. “Hello there,” I would say. “How are you guys doing today? It sure is pretty, isn’t it?” I would ask, looking out over the meadows, likely with one hand on my hip, the other above my brow protecting my eyes from the bright sky. They would agree. We would stand there and admire the beautiful meadows together, me and my new friends. Sometimes they would ask me about my schooling, and I would comment on their nice shirt, or fancy sunhat. I was always one to appreciate a fancy sunhat. The irony of having one in Seattle was not lost on me as a child.
Sometimes dogs would come by. Dogs are good people. Dogs Know Things. They could tell I was a nice kid, who was there communing with nature, and sometimes the dogs and I would sit and visit while we waited for our people to come back. I made a lot of friends on Mount Rainier. I made friends wherever I went. I was just that kind of kid. Back in the 70s in Seattle dogs didn’t bite children. They knew better. They were friends of children. It was the best place in the world to grow up.
So this was my gift. Talking to people. Meeting people. Sharing stories and making new dog friends.
Teachers didn’t always appreciate this gift. They would often tell me to talk less. Share less. Work more. That is, at least, until a new kid showed up. Then I was their little helper. Then they realized they could utilize my gifts to their advantage. They knew I would welcome the new student and be their friend. I would introduce them to other kids. I would mentor them in the ways of the lunch line. I would show them around the playground. I would let them meet my dog friends who wandered onto the playground at recess time. In the 70s in Seattle we didn’t have fences to keep kids in and weirdos out. We didn’t need them. Seattle in the 70s was the best place to be a kid and grow up. No fences. Friendly dogs. Win-win.
So back to the Spiritual Gifts. I know that my gifts are what my inner voice is nudging me to do. My gifts are what I am naturally skilled at. My gifts are what is my work to do. It is why I am here.
I knew as a kid that I liked people. I currently work in a service industry.
I always liked kids, and I knew I would one day be a mother. I have four beautiful daughters.
I always liked English class and playing with words. I am now a Professional Sign Language Interpreter.
I was voted Most Inspirational every year I played on a sports team as a teenager. I create and present workshops for interpreters all over the state of Arizona. I teach them and inspire them to also find and use their gifts.
I always had a deep compassion and urge to care for others. I am a volunteer for hospice.
I knew innately what was mine to do. I learned as the years passed that the things I was told to quiet down just needed to be honed. They needed to be cultivated. They are my natural gifts and it is a disservice to my Creator to not use them.
As the great writer Erma Bombeck has been quoted as saying: When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, “I used up everything you gave me.” I have always loved Erma. I read her books as a teen. She spoke to me.
So what is nudging you? What is calling you? What is that small voice inside that speaks to you that you have been ignoring or pushing away? When we aren’t living on point, our life doesn’t have purpose. We are fretting away our days. We only get to be here for so many sunrises and sunsets. It is our duty to give to the world what is our gift. Gifts are meant to be shared. We bless the world by sharing what we are naturally good at. That is how a community works. Everyone has a duty. Everyone gives back something, without only taking. All healthy relationships are this way. Give and Take. Share and share.
Right this moment, write down on a piece of paper the first three things that come to mind that you really enjoy doing, or are naturally good at. These are your Spiritual Gifts. Start using them. Start figuring out what they mean to you.
Now think of something you may have been told was something you should stop doing. Something maybe a teacher or parent told you to simmer down. Look closely at it. It could just be the nugget of carbon that will be turned into the diamond when polished.
When I was in junior high I was diagnosed as ADD before it was en vogue. I now understand and can appreciate how being ADD is a gift.
It helped me not be overwhelmed by four kids, especially when they were younger. I thrived on their energy and exuberance.
It helps me to be an amazing interpreter, because my brain is able to process two languages simultaneously. I am able to hear spoken English, and interpret it into American Sign Language with my hands doing a variety of things, all at the same time. I am able to process roughly 6,300 words in a 45 minute lecture. This isn’t taking into consideration some people speak faster than others, and I have to be knowledgable about the lecture’s material and vocabulary. I am also able to take in my surrounding environment, and in my periphery see what may be shown on an overhead projector, all the time with people talking in the background; someone inevitably tapping their pencil; people entering and exiting the room; having the noise of an overhead AC unit rattling and blowing down on top of my head making my hair move and tickle my face; while listening to a teacher who has a thick accent and mumbles and doesn’t ever make an actual point because he doesn’t support the system of punctuation and commas or periods, all the while dissecting the lecture and extrapolating meaning to be able to interpret it into a language whose structure is completely different from that of English. Yeah. ADD is a gift, to say the least.
To say the very least.
So back to you. What are your gifts? What are you holding onto that needs to be shared? Imagine a world where there was no Babe Ruth. No John Lennon. No Maya Angelou. No Claude Monet.
I can only guess their teachers or parents told them at one time to:
“Stop playing with that silly ball; do something worthwhile.”
“Enough with that silly hippie hair and guitar nonsense. Do work.”
“Poetry isn’t a career, it is a time-waster.”
“Painting cannot change the world, now go herd the sheep.”
They listened to something that was deep inside of them and used what was a natural talent and blessed the world with it. It doesn’t mean they didn’t work. Everything worth having takes hard work. You will just have more fun doing it than if you’re going against the grain, if you are forcing it. That will just give you splinters and slivers. No one likes slivers.
You possess a gift that, when shared, can change people’s lives. Changes the world. It can make it better. For all of us.
The world is waiting for you. Now, get going.