Once upon a time the Child was in first grade and assigned the teacher everyone warned us (and her) away from.
You want anyone but Mr. X!! He’s really tough on kids and parents.
I was apprehensive, but went into the experience with an open mind.
To my surprise and delight she adored her new teacher. He led the class (and the parents) with a firm but loving hand.
He wasn’t a fit for many families. He was a perfect match for ours as how he led the classroom meshed exactly with the style of parenting we used at home.
Early one morning before school, as an expression of adoration for her teacher, the the Child decorated a coffee tumbler for him ala the photo above.
I vaguely recall asking her after school if he liked the gift and her responding he did.
Months later, however, she came home from school over-joyed.
Mr. X drank coffee in class and used the cup I made for him!!
Her delight sparked a conversation (it makes us feel good when we see people using gifts we’ve given them!) and slid, unplanned, into a discussion (we’re all born possessing unique gifts and our ‘job’ is to discover/use them.).
In the years following the decorated tumbler scenario referencing “using our gifts” (literal and metaphorical) has become a part of our family-language.
- We’ve chatted about discovering what we do easily/naturally and how that’s not necessarily what others excel at.
- We’ve talked about how using our ‘gifts’ and sharing them with the world makes our human community a better place.
- We’ve discussed how another person’s gifts are not better than ours—they’re just different.
This idea was simultaneously reinforced and challenged when I brought the Child to her first day of tennis camp.
As we walked through the gate toward the courts, we saw a woman painting a mural.
And, because my apple didn’t fall far from her Mama’s tree, the Child’s jaw dropped and she announced to the artist:
That’s amazing. I love that. It’s beautiful.
And, because the Muralist’s Apple did not tumble from my Mama-Tree, the woman murmured a thank you and immediately began to biscuit.
She explained: “This is just what I do. I’m not good at anything else.”
She asked: What are you good at? (the child immediately responded: writing) I’m terrible at that. I wish I could do that.
She brushed off all our compliments.
The artistwoman wasn’t able to see how tremendously we admired what came easily to her and how, since we possess no talent in that arena, we were enormously impressed by her work.
Later that same day I spied a serendipitous tweet from Karen Anderson which captured, better than my ramblings above, our encounter with the muralist:
Valuable to others.
Karen’s phrasing caught my attention because the 3 words she’d chosen captured it entirely for me and because I believe, in the same way I believe in a life of service, it they capture why we’re all here.
Valuable to others.
Whether it’s “using gifts” on a surface, decorated coffee tumbler level (literally giving the giver pleasure when she sees) or “using gifts” meaning talents you possess which bring joy to others (as with the muralist).
It’s for that same reason this Misfit Jewish woman has loves this Leo Buscaglia quote:
It’s all about the gifts.
- Whether you’re religious and leave the quote as is.
- Whether you’re spiritual and tweak the words to fit your deity.
- Whether you’re atheist, drop the notion of G-d and replace with “a” and “the world” respectively.
(sits back. ponders. navel gazes. and invites you to do same.)
Here’s where, in the OG Days, I’d have closed comments and asked you spend today using your gifts and bringing joy to others.
Apparently I’m far more Curious Carla than I was back in the proverbial day.
I’m leaving comments open and instead I ask you:
- What are your natural gifts?
- Do you ever fail to see these talents as valuable to others because they come easily to you ?
Bea saysJune 7, 2017 at 4:46 am
I have always thought of this like imposter syndrome. When I can do something and I get a complement I immediately respond like that artist. I always figure if other people try they can do it as well or better than I can.
jen saysJune 7, 2017 at 5:39 am
Put so well! Love it xoxo
Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home saysJune 7, 2017 at 6:43 am
I love this!
It’s only fitting that since I”m a nurse, I have a gift of caring for people and propping them up when they’re down and out. BUT I have no tolerance for people who feel sorry for themselves or take advantage of a situation. So it’s always interesting when I get those parents who march in a healthy looking child and completely dramatize their illness. I point out the gift of health (in a very corporate medicine patient satisfaction kind of way) that their child possesses.
So many gifts and people don’t realize it.
Michele saysJune 7, 2017 at 8:17 am
This!! This almost made me tear up a little bit. I will learn to accept my gifts, be grateful for them, and even proud of them.
Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au saysJune 7, 2017 at 8:25 am
Something that Midlife is teaching me is to be more open to compliments and to acknowledge the gifts I have and share them if I can. None of us have it all worked out, none of us are blessed with every gift under the sun. We are all given little pieces that fit together to make a whole – it should bring joy and not be brushed off.
Elle saysJune 7, 2017 at 9:10 am
It is true. How often we belittle our own gifts when others mention them. Is it modesty perhaps?
Darlene Berkel saysJune 7, 2017 at 9:15 am
I am convinced that EVERYONE has talents, but most people just do not know it , or worse yet, they are too modest and take their special gifts for granted. There’s a big difference between being boastful and full of yourself, versus acknowledging your uniqueness and the gifts you bring to the world!
messymimi saysJune 7, 2017 at 12:53 pm
My gift, apparently, is clean up. It’s why i’m a janitor.
John Celvin saysJune 7, 2017 at 1:15 pm
Nice gift, Loved it!
Jody - Fit at 59 saysJune 7, 2017 at 1:53 pm
The struggle is believing you have the gifts..
Coco saysJune 7, 2017 at 9:01 pm
I love all of this. I’m aware of my work-related gifts. I need to cultivate my other gifts and make sure I’m giving back with them.
Paula Kiger saysJune 7, 2017 at 11:11 pm
SO MANY THOUGHTS! But it’s late so here’s the condensed version: YES. So true. I did children’s church and my church and pretty much hated it …. I said to the deacon “it’s not my gift” and she said something like, “sometimes we have to do what we have to do. ” I get that BUT …………….. I bring so much more when I am truly using my most natural gifts. I do! // And yes on the compliments. Shonda Rhimes talked in Year of Yes about learning to just. say. thank. you. when complimented. Because downplaying it is almost detracting from the gift of their compliment to you.
Susie @ Suzlyfe saysJune 8, 2017 at 12:37 pm
I think my natural gift is self effacing humor. I won’t lie, I’ve always thought I was funny; but I used to use it as a defense, and a “see me” thing, rather than as something totally natural, genuine. Now, I just let it be what it wants, when it wants. I don’t try to force it anymore. Well, sometimes I do, but not that much.
Catherine @ A Cup of Catherine saysJune 8, 2017 at 2:58 pm
This is beautiful and perfect!!!
All my life, I’ve suffered from imposter syndrome. I’ve always graciously accepted compliments but later trivializing them because surely I can’t be that great?
However, this is such truth. We ALL have different gifts (thank goodness!) and the value is in how we USE them to delight others. Thanks for this – needed it today. <3
Sandra Laflamme saysJune 9, 2017 at 1:36 pm
It can definitely be hard to recognize ones own gifts and talents. Thank you for this great food for thought!
Deborah saysJune 10, 2017 at 8:02 pm
Oh yes… that impostor syndrome thing, which I think you’ve written about.
I have some people say nice things about my writing from time to time but because I haven’t been able to really get paid for my writing / doing anything with it, I worry that it’s not true and it’s nothing special.
I can think of other things I find easy though – networking with people, chatting to strangers etc – that I know others find hard. I tend not to think of it as something I’m good at though, just something that comes more easily to me than others.