As imperfect people, we have a knack for underestimating ourselves.
Throughout my childhood, I could not find a talent of my own. My older sister plays the harp, both sisters have beautiful singing voices, one of them has countless medals for gymnastics and my brother is a sports prodigy. Being the youngest child and believing I had so much to live up to often made me feel depressed and envious of my siblings’ talents growing up.
I treaded many different paths to find myself a “worthy” talent. I attempted piano lessons for three years and, although I learned the basics, as I progressed, I began to struggle reading music and ended up quitting. In elementary school, I got a strange desire to become an artist when I grew up, but that plan was quickly shot down when I realized I could not draw a decent stick figure and my handwriting was pitiful. When I was in middle school, my choir instructor told me it was a shame I had to be in the front row – I was the shortest – during our musical number because I was the worst dancer in the class. I was also stricken with a curse of clumsiness when I was born and that has deemed me athletically challenged.
Since I cannot play an instrument, I am not good with a paint brush, I trip over flat surfaces, and I have two left feet, I once saw myself as a thorn among beautiful roses. As a clumsy person, I always felt like such a burden to my team in P.E. class because I was the one who could not hit the target or catch the ball, and I was constantly belittled for my incomprehension when I could not measure up to my peers. Through these experiences, my self-confidence withered away.
I felt as if God had forgotten to supply me with skills or talents. I especially struggled with this idea in high school when many of my friends were involved in sports and music and I felt as mediocre as ever.
As soon as I accepted myself as the girl who only had a talent for breathing, I discovered something called a spiritual gift. Compassion, wisdom, kindness, faith, hospitality, tongues, serving, healing, teaching and having a vivid sense of right and wrong are spiritual gifts. I had never heard of such things referred to as gifts and talents. That is when I realized something.
Talents are not always recognized.
When I stopped to look at my life, I discovered many talents and gifts that I had not recognized before. For example, I cry easily. My friends constantly tease me about this trait and I always saw it as a weakness. I cry when things are beautiful, I cry in sappy movies and books, and I especially cry with my loved ones in their times of trial and sorrow. I know what you’re thinking: How can crying be a talent? I have discovered that there is much more to it than watery eyes and ugly sniffles. I am able to feel compassion and love. With that, my sense of understanding and concern for the wants and needs of others has given me the gift of empathy. I am able to embrace, console and understand others in their times of trial. Although I never recognized this trait of mine as a talent while I was growing up, I have now fully embraced my sappy ways.
As time went on, I discovered many more gifts that I have always possessed, but I could not find them behind my constant self-doubt. One of the talents I discovered is the one I am using right now as I write to you all. While I was so busy focusing on my weaknesses, and longing to be a flawless dancer or a beautiful musician, I did not recognize the talents God has purposely given me to use during my time on Earth. Every one of us is created individually and carefully. God gives you what He knows you will use to brighten the world and strengthen others.
So many of us compare our seemingly unimpressive lifestyle with our peers and family members. I have one piece of advice for you regarding those comparisons: Stop it. We were not all created to be the same and to share the same talents. God has given us specific talents that are meant to uplift, guide and heal others in our own special way. Your job is fully embrace and recognize the gifts you have been given. In doing so and in serving others with your selected gifts, God has promised us that we will develop further talents. And if we hide our divine talents or do not constantly use them for good, we will lose them.
So the next time you believe you are talentless, look inside yourself and ask God to help you recognize your potential. Find your talents, embrace them and continue to strengthen them. I can sincerely promise you that you will find such strength and amazing gifts within yourself.