Hone your gifts for God this Lent Print
Everyday Faith
Thursday, Mar. 01, 2018 -- 12:00 AM

Everyday Faith column by Julianne Nornberg

"Mom, what is my talent?" My son's eyes were wide, searching, and sincere, accompanying a question that came out of the blue.

He listed his siblings' talents that included creativity and musical ability, friends' talents that included a knack for sports.

Identifying a talent

But here he was, searching for his place in the world, trying to identify a thing called "talent" that helped define who he was.

I placed my hands on his shoulders and told him truthfully: "You have a talent for quickly recognizing others' emotions and helping them in the way they need it most. It's called emotional intelligence, and you definitely have it."

I thought of the many times he'd given me a hug or offered to care for a sibling on days I was struggling to accomplish too much.

I thought of the countless times he'd cheered up his sister when she was upset. I thought of his peacemaking ways that revealed tactful problem-solving with his siblings.

I was so proud of my son's talent for empathy, but it was clear that he wanted me to say something more concrete like "spelling," "math," or "soccer." But the talent I named was different from what he expected.

He nodded slowly and walked away in thought.

Recognizing our gifts

When it comes to recognizing our God-given gifts, don't we sometimes feel like my son did?

When it becomes clear what God wants of us, how He wants us to use our talents, are we sometimes a little surprised or disappointed?

Things are not always what we expect, what we envision, and yet what God has in store for us is so much greater than we could imagine for ourselves.

We each are called to use our gifts in such a way that will give glory to God.

It may take us years to grow into these gifts, to recognize them, to hone them. But how glorious it is when we can tell that our gifts were given especially to each of us in order to fit beautifully into God's intricate plan!

Using our talents

"God has given to each of us the talents to sow His words and gather up the fruit of souls," said St. Catherine of Siena. "Let us therefore put those talents to work and not bury them in the ground."

So even if we are at first surprised or disappointed in the way God wants us to use our gifts – perhaps it is a small talent, nothing grandiose -- let us work toward doing it to the best of our ability for the glory of God.

"God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7), especially when it comes to giving of ourselves in the way He has planned, with our natural abilities offered to accomplish His work.

When we focus on the work God wants to accomplish through us -- instead of on "our" talents, which could become a source of pridefulness for us -- then we become builders of the kingdom of God, workers with our tools, our talents, given only for the glory of God.

This Lent, take some time to examine how you -- and your children -- are using your God-given talents as tools to accomplish His work.

Julianne Nornberg, mother of four young children, is a member of St. John the Baptist Parish, Waunakee.