Talent. We all have one, they say. Some are blessed with more than one, but we should all feel comfortable that we came to this Earth with at least one talent, given by God Himself. But what if you don’t know what your talent is? What if you never find it? Does it expire or go bad? Does it get tired of waiting around for you and just leave altogether? What if you do finally find it, but it’s not what you wanted?
At 5 years old, I am standing in a circle with other preschoolers while a young, pretty lady teaches us a song with hand motions. “Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!”
Now I am 8 years old, sitting on a carpet with my friends while a grandmotherly woman goes around the room and asks us to tell the class about our talent. Our room is full of singers, dancers, artists, and athletes. We are brimming with talent. We can hardly contain it. But seeds of doubt are sprouting in my head. I want my talent to be bigger and better than everyone else’s! Maybe God doesn’t give you your talent until you’re good and ready for it, I tell myself. I envision a Fairy Godmother moment when God will tap my head and my amazing talent will appear.
I am 15 years old, perched casually atop a desk in a tiny classroom, with a small group of other teens. Our leader reads to us from the Bible and tells us how each one of us is unique and that we’ve been given talents directly from God. It all sounds good, but I’m skeptical. Teen angst tells me that there’s nothing special about me. To be honest, I’m not really sure I want a talent that would set me apart. All I want, what I desperately want, is to fit in.
I am 25 years old, trying to make my way in the world, distanced from God because I can’t find a way to make room for Him along with the things I want. I think I have talents, but they’re not for Him. They’re for me, for furthering my career, and becoming what I deem as successful.
I am 30-something years old, playing on the floor with my small children, overwhelmed by mundane tasks. My days are spent doing things that I feel require no special skills, only pure stamina. Is ‘barely surviving’ a talent? I consider the idea that maybe talents aren’t realized right away. Maybe my talent is buried deep inside me, and I am like an archaeologist, digging slowly and carefully to find it, hopefully intact and ready to show off.
I am 40 years old, sitting on the carpet once again, talking about God-given talent with my Bible study group. The term has changed from “talent” to “spiritual gift.” Our leader asks that we go around the room and tell our spiritual gift.
Each lady speaks of her gift. There are women who are natural leaders, skilled in organization, caretakers, comforters, the list goes on. All eyes are on me. My head says, “I don’t know!. Please stop asking me!” My mouth blurts out a household chore that I think I do well. I’m half-joking, half-serious. I don’t want this to be my spiritual gift, but maybe it just is what it is. Maybe I should stop thinking about it so much.
It is today. I move through life much as I always have. I stay busy and am mostly productive, but there is nothing extraordinary about any of it. I am at a place in my life that I see how “ordinary” is its own gift.
But I still wonder. Where is the talent? Am I too late to use it properly? How did I miss it?
Fun fact about me: I have cold hands. Very cold hands. It can be 100 degrees outside, but my handshake will make a person jump. “Your hands are so cold!” they’ll say. Sometimes, to be funny, I’ll put my hands on my husband’s neck to watch him jump. It works every time.
Every now and then, one of my daughters will sidle up next to me and say, “Mama, I don’t feel good.” Usually, it’s just because she’s tired, or maybe has a stomachache from junk food. Sometimes she just wants to be loved on. Whatever it is, she’ll take one of my hands and place it on her forehead. As her body relaxes, she’ll say, “Oh, Mama, you have such cold hands.”
Maybe talent is not something you do, but something you are. Maybe our gifts aren’t meant to be impressive to the world, but they’re tailor-made for a very specific purpose for someone who greatly needs just what we have.
There are surely other people out there who have very cold hands. Probably hundreds of millions of them. But there is only one pair of very cold hands that my two girls look for when they need comfort, and those hands belong to me. They’ve been here all along, waiting to fulfill this duty. They are a gift to me and a gift to my daughters. What other gifts do we have that we are ignoring? If we stop looking for some big, extraordinary talent, what will we find, hiding under a bushel? Possibly something that has been there all along, just waiting to shine.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.