This weekend I cleaned out a couple of shelves in my closet. A couple of shelves may not sound like much, but these two shelves were crammed with about ten years of kids papers, cards, and random things I didn’t want to throw away but didn’t know what to do with at the time. Rather than take the time to put the papers away in some sort of organized system, I just continued to push and cram them on the shelf.
I was somewhat forced to clean these shelves as I had torn them apart Thursday night looking for my daughters birth certificate so she could take her driver’s permit test. I found it. She passed. I am sure the forty hours of parental driving supervision I have to do will provide me with plenty of blog material. Like today when she was pulling up the driveway and accidentally hit the gas instead of the brake and we lunged forward towards our other car parked in the garage…
When I walked into my closet Friday afternoon after work I stood there over the mound of papers on the floor and the shelf that was still full. I figured I had two options. I could pick the pile off the floor and shove it all back onto the shelf, or I could finally take the time to go through everything and decide what exactly I should do with it.
I don’t know what got into me because I actually decided to go through the papers. Not like me at all. That did not sound like a fun Friday night. Especially because I was wiped out from the week and really just wanted to veg out in front of the tv.
Turns out it was a fun project. I took a six hour stroll down memory lane. I laughed at pictures of my friends and kids. I cried when I found handwritten letters from my dad from my years away at college. I found cards my kids had made, and cards of encouragement from my friends. It was crazy to think I had all of those memories just crammed onto those two shelves.
I opened a card from Tom. In it was a $200 gift card to a salon and spa! SWEET! I was so excited! “Mama’s gonna get some pampering!”
Then I had this horrible thought. “I think the spa is no longer there”. I googled it and couldn’t find anything. I called the phone number on the card and it was no longer in service. I sat there so bummed. I would’ve rather never found that gift than realized I had wasted it. There is nothing worse than a wasted gift.
It says in 1 Corinthians 12:7 A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.
We have all been given special gifts and talents, and many of us waste them. We waste them by misusing them or not using them at all. It is a horrible thing to waste your gift. It will cause you to be unsettled, cranky, and agitated. You may not even realize that these feelings are a result of not using your gifts. I know it because I have spent many years of my life off and on misusing or not using my gifts.
I don’t believe we intentionally waste our gifts, just like I didn’t intentionally waste my day at the spa. Like my gift card, I think we often put our gifts “on a shelf” and vow to get back to them when our lives aren’t so hectic, and the time is right. The problem is when she put them on the shelf we often forget about them. Life never gets any less hectic and there really never is a good time for most things.
We may not be able to use our gifts to their full measure during some of the seasons of life, but we can certainly find ways to use them in some way in our everyday life. It’s hard though. We tend to feel that if we can’t go all in with our gifts, dreams, and desires, we should just shelf the whole thing until a later date. When we feel this way we need to remind ourselves that our gifts are not about us. They were given to us, as the verse says, to help each other.
I have a large framed picture of an old typewriter and under it in typewriter font it reads one word can change someone’s day. I bought it almost a year ago. I have it resting against the wall on my writing desk. During the months I wasn’t writing I got angry every time I looked at it. I still haven’t hung it on the wall (or cleaned off my writing desk for that matter).
From now on when I am tempted to put my writing on a shelf until I have more time, a clearer vision, or a postcard from God, I am going to remind myself that it is not about me. It is not about the end or the big picture or what direction I may or may not be heading. It is about what one Word today can do for someone else.
If you have your gift crammed on a shelf somewhere I encourage you to take it down, dust it off, and start using it again. You never know, it may be the very thing someone else needs today. I promise you will lose that sick feeling of a wasted gift and find new hope and excitement for the day!
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me. Thank you for giving me special gifts and talents. Help me to use my gifts. Bring someone into my day that needs exactly what I can give them. Help me to remember that it is not about me, but what I can do for another. Give me courage and strength to step out in faith and use my gifts. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Love, Grace, and No Wasted Gifts,