"When a soul recognises the will of God and shows a readiness to submit to it entirely, then God gives Himself to such a soul and renders it most powerful succour under all circumstances." - Rev. Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Thursday, February 8, 2018

On desires, using your gifts, and contentment

A few months ago, my pastor preached about using our gifts and how we will have to answer one day if we don't actually use the gifts God has given us. He wasn't saying it to scare us but to simply tell us how it is. (He's got some mad homily skills and I've been convicted about things through his preaching so many times.)

It really is easy these days to look at other people and notice their gifts and wish we could do what they do. (Social media makes this so tricky, because things are not always as they seem.) Everybody has been blessed with their own gifts. I can look at each of my friends and think of several things they are good at - hospitality, being a patient and loving mother, serving their husband, teaching, praying for others, running a business, creating beautiful things, the list goes on and on.

It's silly for me to wish I could be a public speaker like someone else when that is definitely not one of my gifts. (This is hypothetical. I really don't want to be a public speaker.) (But watch God laugh and say, heeeey Jen!) Could I practice and cultivate those skills though? Absolutely, if I discerned God was calling me to do that. But in the meantime, I need to be using the gifts I currently have...and I suppose writing can be used in the same way as public speaking - to share my experiences and insights in the hopes that it will encourage someone else. So that's why I'll continue to blog in this tiny corner of the Internet (and this one), because God has given me the ability to write and the willingness to share so openly.

Father's homily really got me thinking, though, about what exactly are my gifts - because some are obvious while others are not. And just because I'm using one gift doesn't mean I'm using it to the best of my ability. Yes, I write through my blog, but I honestly could be doing more. I could finally finish a book project or I could actually try to submit blog posts to bigger websites. I shouldn't stay stagnant with the excuse, "But at least I'm using my writing gift in one way!"

I should point out that obviously you need to discern what God is calling you to do. But in this particular instance, I know God has placed a desire on my heart to write a book for a reason. And if I really, really tried, I could write a book. The fact that I just wrote that on the world wide web is terrifying. You know, because, accountability.

Anyways.

For much of my adult life, I've struggled with contentment. When we were childless, all I wanted was a baby. When we're pregnant, all I want is a normal pregnancy. When money is tight, all I want is for Logan to have a better-paying job.

You get the idea.

I probably don't need to tell you that finding contentment is hard. But somehow I've managed to find enough contentment this past year to be, well, content. Here are some things I've learned:

1) The grass is not always greener. Sure, it may seem like all you need for life to be more manageable is a better job, a bigger house, [insert scenario here]...but usually there are more factors at play.

2) There will always be a cross in your life. I'm not trying to be negative Nancy, I promise. But life isn't easy, and we all have crosses - which is why you shouldn't try to get rid of them. As soon as the pain from one cross is lifted, another cross will feel heavier. It's physics, man.

3) Your cross is is not your neighbor's cross, and vice versa. Just like your gifts are not your neighbor's gifts, and vice versa. So stop comparing. God has given us each unique gifts, as well as crosses, because we are all different and require different things. We also learn through different ways.

So, contentment and gifts. I'm not sure how I managed to combine both things in the same post, but somehow I think the two are related. Perhaps the road to contentment starts with using your gifts, and using them well.

I wish I had some nice and tidy way to wrap up this post that is kind of all over the place. I guess if you don't want to take my word for it, though, you can take it from St. Francis de Sales in his Introduction to the Devout Life:
"The enemy often supplies us with great desires for absent things that we will never encounter in order to divert our minds from present things, from which, small as they may be, we might obtain great profit."

And also, this from Matthew Kelly in his book, Resisting Happiness:
"You were made for mission. You were created to serve powerfully. And you will never be truly happy until you find a way to lay down your life for others that engages your talents and abilities." 

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