My dog is a maniac. A hell hound. A wild and untamed creature that I don’t understand…I’m trying…I love her, but I just don’t get her. I’m good with people. People, I can do. Let’s call it “people skills”. I can read people’s emotions, empathize with them, make them feel comforted and accepted. I can calm them, support them, teach and guide them, respect them, give them hope. I can even give bad news or offer constructive criticism in a way makes it more palatable, less difficult. Sometimes I use humor, sometimes shared experience, sometimes just a listening ear that recognizes that we are all human with faults as well as strengths. I think it is a gift from God.
My people skills are something that others recognized in me, maybe before I recognized them in myself. They told me I had a gift. I don’t think I ever really thought it such, before others pointed it out. I think I imagined that if I could do that, that everyone could. That it wasn’t so special.
Once I began to appreciate and accept my gift, I began to realize that it was really something innate in me. Something I was born with. Something that my Maker bestowed upon me, just the same way some people have beautiful voices, or an ability to create beautiful art, or figure out mathematical equations. And so I nourish my gift. I put time into the gift… and energy…and thought. I use it to help other people, both in my professional life, and in my personal life as well. I believe it is a vocation. A direction that God showed me (through others) because he wanted me to develop it and use it to make the world a better place.
I was born on the Feast of St. Francis. The prayer of St. Francis is my favorite prayer. It speaks to my sensibilities.
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace; where there is hatred let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.
But sometimes I don’t use my gift. Sometimes I don’t follow my calling. I can be closed to the needs or feelings of others. Sometimes I get tired of “hearing” the story people want to tell me. I don’t feel like being supportive or comforting or accepting. I fail. But… eventually I try again. I gain strength from the love of my friends and family so that I can go out and help others again. God understands that I am not always good, but I am trying. He knows me to the core and He knows my struggles and He gives me strength, through the people in my life and through the Holy Spirit.
We all have gifts. I believe God has put us each on the road and given us different tools to work our way, to make our journey. It is the job of each of us to figure out the gifts we have and to appreciate and grow them.
What are your gifts, and how can you use them to make your world a better place?