After each class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, a middle aged Cambodian student tells me that she “thanks the Lord every class for her teacher’s patience.” She always tells me that I have a gift. It is true. I have been given the gift of patience. It is a theme I see over and over on evaluations by my students and I think something that has made me successful as a teacher. I also believe this is why I enjoy teaching so much – I am using the gifts that I was meant to share.
Over the last few years I have been thinking about individual gifts more and more. I think the idea of individual gifts was first placed in my mind after reading The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success for Parents where Deepak Chopra said something along the lines of “our most important job as a parent is to help our children discover their individual gifts to this world.” Thinking of each person with individual gifts has not only opened my mind to looking at what each person brings to this world, but also to take a good look at myself. It has made me appreciate my own gifts rather than focus on the gifts I wasn’t given.
Sometimes though, when I surround myself with awesome people, I forget what my individual gifts and talents are and concentrate more on their strengths because I am in such awe of the things they can accomplish. While I think admiring others gifts is entirely what we are supposed to do, I realize that I sometimes let the balance tip to one side where I neglect to see my own place. This is when I know I need to take a step back and look at my life as a whole and see where my gifts are planting their seeds. I did this yesterday. I took a step back and realized how much is actually going on around me right now. It is a lot. My gifts are definitely presenting themselves, but at times I am not acknowledging where these gifts are being most shared or even where they are being least shared.
Right now my mom is in Pakistan. She is teaching parish nursing classes for 30 days. I have to say that I have never been more proud of my mom. She is in her early 70’s, has severe fibromyalgia, Type II diabetes, and some other health concerns. Yet, she put all of this aside because sharing her gifts with the world was stronger than any health concerns. I am proud of my mom because she has made this amazing trip but most of all I am proud of her because she fully understands the gifts she has been given and embraces them. She made a connection with a fellow parish nurse and knew that she was the right person for this job. From her emails, it sounds like she was right. She had over 100 students and starts a new class today.
Each day I ask that I may share my individual gifts with the world and also acknowledge and encourage the gifts of those around me. Some days I am successful and other days not. I know this will be a forever challenge, but with each step I get closer to seeing those gifts in myself and others, the more I grow. We are each here for a reason, no matter what else is going on in our lives.
Here are a few examples from my week:
- My reading class gave presentations last Thursday. One of my students was a teacher in Puerto Rico. She always uses Powerpoint for her presentations. This time around she brought her laptop in and had groups working on it and my computer as she taught them how to use Powerpoint. When I thanked her for this she smiled and said, “I just love helping people.” A true example of how when we share our gifts, our own needs are met.
- Saturday night I went with my husband to band practice and hung out with the other wives. My husband and I don’t spend near enough time with other couples. I sometimes forget how funny he is. It is a true gift that when I recognize it again, it fills me with pride.
- My fellow Show Us Your Hands! friends have tremendous gifts in organization, creativity, and punctuation skills among many others. Their gifts are often very different than mine but I always learn from them and feel amazed at their capabilities. I also appreciate that they respect and love me for my gifts.
- Although I sometimes wish my gifts came out stronger when helping my family with their own issues, I know that is where my gifts are strong right now. I know I need to be gentler with myself and focus on what I am contributing rather than what I am not. By sharing my gifts I know my own needs will be met.
No matter what is going on in our lives, our gifts are always there and always ready to be shared. I hope that today allows you a chance to see your own gifts and to cherish them.
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And warm Thanksgiving wishes to you and your family!