Secrets and Spies: A Reflection on Gift Development

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I’ve been doing some thinking on gifts lately. What does it mean to use our gifts to bring glory to God? It sounds good to talk about, but how many of us actually do it? How many of us actually know what our gifts are? Count yourself fortunate if you have obvious ones!

I’m not an expert on identifying gifts, but I think a good starting place is figuring out what you enjoy—more than chocolate or shopping or things that make you feel “happy”; I mean some thing that gives you even the slightest bit of joy, or the feeling you could potentially fulfill some kind of purpose in this life.

I would love to be having this conversation with you over a cup of Starbucks. I would love to hear what you think about your own gifts, but since I can’t help but start this as a one-sided conversation, I’ll tell you what I know think about mine. It feels weird to claim that writing is one of my “gifts”; all I know is that I sure enjoy it. I love connecting with you through words.

How do I use my gift to glorify God? Well, I’m still on the path to figuring that out. All I know is, I have NOT always been on that path; in fact, I didn’t know there was such thing. Brace yourself for a (maybe too) honest glimpse into my writing life…

I’ve been “writing” since the second grade, if you can call it that. More appropriate verbs would be “recording” and “describing” my every day life.

MY life. Me me me.

I looked through journals today, some of which have names. There is the classic “Dear Diary” that has some torn pages which at one point held descriptions of the cutest boy in the third grade. I vividly remember ripping, hand-shredding, and throwing them in the trash; apparently my 8 year old self suspected future embarrassment.

Then there is the “Dear Samantha” from the era of Lisa Frank and the original American Girl Dolls:
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Then there is a random one named “Tabby”. I don’t know.

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I often wrote about my favorite teachers.

I was a nerd. I still am.

I don’t think I ever really planned on sharing my words with anyone. If I did, I guess I thought they would be interested to know what I ate for breakfast on October 6, 1997 or what I bought with my Christmas money a few months later.

Writing has allowed me to sort through thoughts about this strange world without admitting them to anyone, and boy, have I had some ridiculous ones! Before reading through this stuff, I was prepared to share a lot of it with you, but the truth is, I am too embarrassed to even read some of it. Seriously.

Writing has served as a means to finding, or self-constructing, an identity. At the silly age of 9, I wanted to be a spy. Harriet the Spy to be exact. She was my hero for at least a few months. I even took a recorder around the yard trying to “investigate” what happened to my cat Rusty. Yes, I still have the tape. No, I’m not playing it for you. It is precisely 3:42 in the afternoon and I am walking through the green grass of the back yard….”

Harriet also recorded everything she thought about her friends in school. I did the same with my third grade classmates. Names changed, just in case an old classmate is looking for a reason to beat someone up:

Jason- a big worrier who worries if paint gets on his desk
Jesse- thinks that I hate his guts, but I don’t he just bugs me
Billy- he gets in “trable” because he is always caught playing with his toy cars
Bobby- a boy who thinks he is so cool and he’s the master, but he is so not cool
Sally-the tattle tale who wants everything to be HER way

I’m ashamed to show you most of the labels that I gave them.

In retrospect, Harriet the Spy was pretty mean. I hope since I wrote this stuff down, that means I didn’t actually say any of it out loud. I swear I don’t remember being a mean girl; the unsaid thoughts are just as bad as spoken words.

Then there were all the preteen “crushes”. Those pages make me want to throw them in the dump (the pages, not the crushes :)).

Writing has always been an outlet. The early journals are funny, but later on, real life started happening, or at least I was a more aware of it. Even though I had a great adolescence compared to many people, I was no longer painting a carefree fairytale on the neon Lisa Frank pages.

Jump ahead to middle and high school years where you’ll find an immature believer trying to figure out the significance of Jesus while trying to weave Him into her own identity. Great! Well, more like confusing. My 2001 journal cover says “xt4J” meaning “Extreme for Jesus”.

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Maybe this is wrong, but I now cringe at companies who make money trying to make Jesus “cool” to young people. I think they contribute to the distorted view that is held by Jesus fans who don’t take time to really know the simple, small, un-cool side of Him. That’s a whole separate blog post.

Anyway, I have a love-hate relationship with these pages. I get good laughs out of them. They remind me how much I have to be thankful for. Some of them hurt and remind me of things I wish I had forgotten. Some make me sad when I consider the difference I could have made in the lives around me if I hadn’t been so concerned with my own happiness. It’s hard to look back at who we once were, expecting to see that person we’ve always thought highly of, and see the reality of one who could have been more/done more/stood for more. You can tell me I’m too hard on myself, but I’m just being honest.

As much as I dread the reflection, it helps me grow. Considering the things I am proud of versus the things that make me want to throw a snowball at the face of my old self is a humbling opportunity, and that is always a good thing.

So back to the original question: How do I use my gifts to glorify God? The Bible tells me that God is glorified and we are blessed when we love him and love other people. So, do I use writing to show love to him and to other people? I used to not, but I try to now.

Looking back on years of what seems like wasted pages and wasted words is disheartening, but I guess they weren’t completely wasted if God used them to get me where I am now. Don’t get me wrong—I’m well aware of the fact that I haven’t arrived at a perfect picture of Kristin, but at least I’m now considering how my words affect you and trying to avoid adding to the abundant fruitless jargon of the world.

If we wait until our gift is perfected, we will never share it. If I waited, I would have empty pages. I will probably still look back with some regrets, but I’m doing my best right now to make a difference with the words I throw out there.

Thank God He’s never done working on me.

All I have is today, and today has a page of its own.

I guess if I had to name today’s journal, it would be Dear You, or Dear People Trying to Figure out this Life Stuff with Me.

What are your gifts? Are you using them to love God and love people? If not, you may be missing out on big blessings. Maybe it’s time.

 

Linking up today at Mondays @ Soul Survival:

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