Setting Up My Year in Christ – Discerning Christ’s Call to Put My Gifts in Action

How I long for people to understand how their gifts are woven through everything. My gifts work within my personality, my history, my experiences. Your gifts work within your desires and loves. This is the way God created us.

On the one hand, gifts are natural and ordinary in the sense that everyone has them. On the other hand, our gifts fit us to contribute to the world and God’s kingdom in specific and powerful ways. The fact that I have gifts does not make me more special than anyone else. But my gifts equip me to be the unique person God dreams me to be.

Therefore, through my gifts I can learn to embrace myself as God made me; and through my gifts I can learn humility as I see other people as gifted also.

We have multiple gifts, and they come into use at different times, according to our season of life, our situation, and the needs around us. In the same way Christ calls me to be kind in a certain situation that calls especially for kindness, Christ calls me to use my gift for, say, nurturing others, when someone in my life needs to be nurtured. And in the same way I must discern from day to day what Christ asks of me in my work and relationships, I must discern day to day what Christ asks of my gifts. 

It’s quite freeing to understand that I am not required to use every gift all the time, and to know that some gifts lie in my life, dormant, until the right time. I have met many women (and men) who, at midlife, discover gifts they didn’t know they possessed. But this new season of life called out those gifts. I did not know I had a gift for spiritual listening—what some call spiritual direction—but now, in my senior years, this gift has emerged, and I honor and nurture it as God calls me to sit in love and listen to others’ lives.

One of the gifts that has remained rather constant for me is communication, mainly in the form of writing. But there was a time when I did not write for months—over a year, really—because I was called to care for someone in medical crisis. I knew that I could not do my creative work while caregiving and a full-time job used up all my energy. Did I worry that my writing gift would get rusty? A little. But I could let it go in the interest of God’s call at that time.

Our greatest work in this world is to love others. Our gifts help us do this. And so Christ’s call to love will naturally bring along our gifts. 

This is very important to understand: The first person God helps through your gifts is you. You are the first recipient of your gifts, and this is how it’s supposed to be. God through Christ and the Holy Spirit continuously and moment by moment works to make you whole; out of this wholeness you minister to others. What this means is that you may be the only person for a while who benefits or notices a particular gift that has emerged in your life. It will likely take some time for this gift to develop enough to help others. During this infancy time, simply enjoy the gift.

And here’s another really important thing: Your greatest gift to others and to God’s kingdom is yourself. Your presence is always a gift, or is meant to be. You may think that people need to read your articles or attend your Bible study so that your gifts can help them. Yet, what they need even more is for you to sit with them (or talk on the phone or do a Zoom meeting) and simply be there, be Christ’s presence to them.

Don’t stress over gifts. Pay attention when they appear, say yes to them, enjoy them, and, when the time is right, share them. And remember that, in God’s economy, gifts might come and go but will never run out. God will always provide yet another way to express love in the world.

Going Deeper

Photo by Vladislav Babienko on Unsplash

Vinita Hampton Wright recently retired from more than thirty years as a book editor. She has also served as a speaker and facilitated retreats and workshops on writing, creativity, prayer, and Ignatian spirituality. She has written various fiction and non-fiction books, including the novel Dwelling Places with HarperOne, Days of Deepening Friendship, The Art of Spiritual Writing, and Small Simple Ways: An Ignatian Daybook for Healthy Spiritual Living with Loyola Press, and most recently Set the World on Fire: A 4-Week Personal Retreat with the Female Doctors of the Church with Ave Maria Press . Vinita is a student and practitioner of Ignatian spirituality, and from 2009 to 2015, she blogged at Days of Deepening Friendship. For the past few years, she has co-led small groups through the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises. She continues to write and now serves as a spiritual director from her home in Springdale, Arkansas with her husband, two dogs, and a cat.

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