Last weekend’s impressive snowstorm left me in need of some boots. I was getting dressed for church and realized that the flats I usually wear were not a good match for the massive snow drifts on the sidewalk. I went to the kitchen and said to my husband, “You know my gray boots? I wish I could find them because they would be perfect today.” With one quick glance and a smile he said, “When we get to heaven I am certain there is going to be a special room for all of the things you have lost.”
My goodness this made me giggle. Because he’s right. Not about the heavenly lost-and-found box but about me. I am flaky. Always have been. Write a research paper? No problem. Talk to a room full of people about mental health? Can do. Locate my keys, remember my children without an alarm or put the garage up before I back into it from the inside? That’s a bit more challenging. Being flaky is just one of the things that come along with me being me. All the teasing aside, the beautiful thing that emerged was that I probably won’t be welcomed at the pearly gates by my boots, but there is a God who welcomes all of who I am (flakiness included) to do work for Him while I am here. What a liberating thought.
There is an actual list of “spiritual gifts” found in the Bible. Take a tour of Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4 and you will find a list of words like healing, evangelism, mercy, teaching, exhortation, and administration. These, among others, are listed specifically and have a clear function in the body of Christ. These are gifts we know how to use or at the very least, we would be able to look it up. However, what are we to do with the many unique parts of ourselves that are not listed? What is the purpose of our likes and dislikes, our talents and our trials, our weaknesses, and our strengths? What are we to think about the parts of ourselves and our lives that didn’t come with a blueprint?
In short, it’s all for Him.
Sometimes we make the mistake of setting blinders around the “spiritual.” When we think about how we can care for someone we offer prayer or a well-chosen verse intended to bring comfort or encouragement. We send our hurting colleague a worship song or ask a friend to join our Bible study. We invite our neighbors to church. Now don’t get me wrong. Every single one of the things I just listed are wonderful ways to love people. However, please don’t make the mistake of thinking the options stop there. If we think that God only works through the polished and pious parts of ourselves we have missed the mark. When we reduce the wholeness of ourselves into boxes we miss out on countless moments for connection and authentic relationship with the rest of the humans around us.
Today’s call is to take an inventory of who you are and look closely for God’s fingerprints in your design. Yes, you probably have some very obvious gifts and talents that are quick go-to’s but I want you to look even closer. Take stock of your personality traits. Pay attention to what you like and what you don’t like. Notice your missteps and your inadequacies, your successes and your tragedies. They’re all there for Him and can have a purpose for loving people.
As an example, I will offer a mini inventory of my own. The flakiness I mentioned earlier? It’s not convenient. It requires me to do a lot of list making, alarm setting and double checking in my life. However, it also means that I have found myself with the opportunity to heap grace upon grace for others when they make a mistake. I can share the fine art of learning to laugh at yourself. Other examples: I lost my Dad to cancer when I was 16 which means I sit uniquely designed to meet with others in their grief. I’m oddly calm in a crisis so hospitals don’t make me nervous. I like long walks and cake pops, Star Trek and Friends, and anything that smells good or has glitter. Do these things matter? Not all the time, but when I take stock of them and consider the ways in which they can help me care for people, create community or build authentic relationships they become another tool in my toolbox for loving folks. Really, it all matters. If you let it.
And so what about you? What do you love? What talents do you have or challenges have you faced that make you uniquely designed to love the people around you? What things do you like that would allow you to create community? What personality traits make you able to do God’s work in some uniquely specific way? What is it that makes you, you? Get out your magnifying glass my friend and look closely, His fingerprints are all over your design. And once you see where they are, do work. That is what we were meant for.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10