Doing well is a good feeling!
Sometimes we get recognition for our efforts...
Other times, we have to give ourselves a pat on the back
and recognize our own.
I've noticed that this ability to recognize our own accomplishments is considerably less easy for some than it is for others, but it is an ability worth cultivating. If we fail to acknowledge and appreciate our successes, we cannot embrace the God-given gifts that make them possible. Without exception, this lapse constitutes an immense loss, not only to ourselves but to others whose lives might be touched by a fuller expression of whatever unique talents belong to us.
This weekend, I'll be teaching a Relief Society lesson at church on Developing Our Talents. Usually I get a little nervous as my Sunday approaches, but this time I can hardly wait to talk about a subject so dear to my heart. What makes it dear, of course, is the fact that I have paid the price to learn it myself, and it was worth every emotional penny. Let me take a few moments to explain.
About 15 years ago, I began to understand that it wasn't prideful to "own up" to a talent...and that if you couldn't own up to it, you couldn't own it, either. Remember the parable of the talents in the New Testament? The talent that was carefully placed underground (to languish there, unused) was taken away and given to someone willing to give it life and make the most of it.
In order to give a talent life, we must be courageous enough to embrace the risk inherent in admitting it is there in the first place. After all, if we never admit it exists, then we don't have to experience the growing pains of developing it...the trial and error of putting it out there and accepting the feedback (sometimes positive and sometimes negative) that makes it ready for prime time. Quite simply, we must create an open space for our talent(s) to grow, or they will not grow at all. They may even wither away altogether.
Today I call myself a poet and a writer (and today I believe it), but it was a long road taking ownership of that reality. I've always known I had a gift for language, and I've always used it to express myself in writing. I wrote for myself, my friends, my teachers, and my church, but I never thought much about it. This particular talent runs in my family, and for many years I took it for granted and used it here and there with little purpose or intention. At one point, when I needed it most (and I suspect this was anything but a coincidence), a good friend suggested to me that I could do more with my writing, maybe even share it with others through publication. We need to listen to our friends when they say such things!
For some reason, probably because I was at a place in my life where a few empty spaces needed filling, I decided to take her at her word. My writing became more focused and disciplined as I researched various markets and made a concentrated effort to attract the attention of editors. It wasn't an easy process, and I received countless rejections before the acceptances started rolling in, but I eventually saw a number of poems in print and placed my first book with a noted publisher. Later, two more books came my way, and many more poems for sharing. (I always enjoyed exposing humorous or light-hearted poems to others, but the first time I put a deeply emotional one out there, I felt like I was standing in front of a full house with no clothes on!) These days, it doesn't even faze me. In fact, I enjoy it.
The thing is, despite numerous publications, I didn't call myself a writer or a poet until about five years ago. It seemed presumptuous, even prideful, and I couldn't think of myself that way. But I experienced a sea change when a person whose opinion I respected greatly began calling me a poet and/or author on a regular basis in front of others. At first, it amused me. Depending on the company, it even embarrassed me. But over time, I somehow connected with that vision of myself and made it my own. And I've been throwing up websites and covering them with words ever since.
Of course, not all of our talents are so visible or tangible, but they are all priceless. A gift for listening and providing real comfort is invaluable, as is the gift of understanding without judgment. Even the gift of recognizing and appreciating the talents of others is a great treasure. (I know, because the friend who helped me has it!)
Sorry for a long-winded post, but Sunday's lesson keeps percolating in my mind, and this subject matters. We are sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father. Being "no respecter of persons," He has given meaningful gifts and abilities to all His children. What we do with these is up to us, but I have a feeling we will be held accountable for their use or neglect. After all, we are God's hands on this earth. Surely that means wielding every tool at our disposal, every gift and every ability, to assist and uplift our brothers and sisters.
Enough said! Let's go out there and do some good in the world. We can acknowledge and develop those talents of ours with a gusto that won't quit. (And if we have trouble finding them, we can ask others what they are!)
Hey, we can't claim 'em if we can't name 'em...