I’ve been thinking a lot lately about gifts. I hear words echoing through many mouths about how there is nothing within them anyone would consider special. This is a cry that has been heard for hundreds upon hundreds of years.
“One of the great tragedies of life, it seems to me, is when a person classifies himself as someone who has no talents or gifts. When, in disgust or discouragement, we allow ourselves to reach depressive levels of despair because of our demeaning self-appraisal, it is a sad day for us and a sad day in the eyes of God. For us to conclude that we have no gifts when we judge ourselves by stature, intelligence, grade-point average, wealth, power position, or external appearance is not only unfair but unreasonable” (Marvin J. Ashton, “There Are Many Gifts’,” Ensign, Nov. 1987).
We have all been granted a gift, though we may not see it as such. These gifts may not be easily seen such as a beautiful singing voice, excellence in sports, or excelling in school. This does not make these less noticeable gifts any less worthy. It just means we have to search a little harder to find them, and appreciate them.
“Let us review some of these less-conspicuous gifts: the gift of asking; the gift of listening; the gift of hearing and using a still, small voice; the gift of being able to weep; the gift of avoiding contention; the gift of being agreeable; the gift of avoiding vain repetition; the gift of seeking that which is righteous; the gift of not passing judgment; the gift of looking to God for guidance; the gift of being a disciple; the gift of caring for others; the gift of being able to ponder; the gift of offering prayer; and the gift of bearing a mighty testimony” (Marvin J. Ashton, “There Are Many Gifts’,” Ensign, Nov. 1987).
Have you ever thought of these seemingly simple things as being a gift?
I distinctly recall a night when I had dropped off most of my Young Women (teen girls age 12-18 in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, nicknamed the Mormon Church) after an activity, when two asked if they could come to my home and talk. I agreed, and for about an hour I let the girls chat. Just before it was time for them to get home one of the girls stopped and said, “Sister Walker, you’re a really good listener.”
This wasn’t the first time someone had spoken these words to me, but they deeply touched my heart from this sweet, beautiful young woman. Listening to others has always come naturally to me, but I had not thought of it as a gift until that moment when I saw how much it meant to this sweet spirit.
I think one of Satan’s most powerful tools in making us feel as though we are anything less than a Child of God is in comparing ourselves to others. One of my best friends in the world growing up was named Kristin. Kristin stood at almost six-foot tall, with gorgeous blonde hair and a smile that could blow anyone away. She was a brilliant student, had even skipped a grade early on in her life, played the piano, could sew beautiful clothes, and was an awesome basketball player.
There I stood at a pudgy 5’2 (and a half, thank you very much), unable to make a basket, doing well enough in school, knowing what a piano looked like, and afraid of a sewing machine. There were times I felt dwarfed by her extraordinary talents. . .until one day my friend did something that surprised me.
We were at a school football game. There were two guys behind us who were using language that offended the both of us. At one point Kristin turned around and asked the young men to stop swearing or move. I was stunned. As we talked later she recalled to my mind an event when I had done something similar. She told me I had shown her in my own small way that standing up for what was right wasn’t necessarily a hard thing to do.
“And to every man is given a gift” (D&C 46:11).
What gift has God blessed you with to lift and encourage others? It doesn’t matter how seemingly insignificant it may be. Take some time to write down all the things you do well. Ask family members or friends to come up with a few things as well. You might be surprised to find out what others find remarkable in you.
Most important, find a way to use these gifts. God gave them to you for a reason. There may be someone in this world that only you can help, in your own special way.