I attend a weekly women's bible study at my church here in Los Angeles. Now, in case you are not a person of faith, don't turn away just yet. Though I may be relating it to my faith in God, what I'm here to say can apply to all walks of life.
At the study last night, one of the girls in my group happened to mention something which struck a cord with me. She said our God-given gifts and talents are like a box of cookies. You can take the box of cookies and store it away without opening it. You can also keep the cookies and open them but not eat any. Or you can take the cookies, open them, eat the cookies and then share them with others. After she spoke I really began to delve into my own personal gifts, questioning whether I am using them in the right ways.
Have you ever been in a place where you are not fully satisfied with your life? You're generally happy, but simply bored with your daily job or routine. Or maybe you are unhappy. No matter where you stand in life, chances are you are not accessing your natural gifts and talents in the way you were meant to. Let's say you're a graphic designer, making tons of money creating beautiful layouts and images. Life's pretty good and to a certain degree you enjoy your job, but something is missing. You went into graphic design because you really enjoy drawing and painting, but you knew you'd struggle financially. To use our metaphor, you have opened the box of cookies and eat one every once in awhile. Perhaps it's time to eat a few more cookies and then pass them around! How could you be more satisfied using your gift for art? While the job pays the bills and is rewarding in some ways, perhaps painting on the side will help fill your artistic need. And this could lead to other things! You could sell your art, eventually creating a fan base. You could donate your work to charities or hospitals, helping them raise money in an auction. Or you could teach art classes part time and share your skills with other eager, artsy minds. Only you can figure out which path is best.
For me, it's singing. I have been classically trained and performed in many musicals. For whatever reason none of these avenues fulfilled me. So in a leap of faith, I walked away from singing professionally for a few years. Then the itch began to creep up. I considered a return to the stage, but new I would have just ended up right where I left off. I found the only time I was happy singing was when I was worshipping God. So, I began singing with my church and though my opportunities are sparse, this is how I was meant to use my talents. Now I'm beginning to look at my other gifts in this way.
So, what about you? Do you have a gift for dealing with children? Are you an exceptional public speaker? Maybe numbers get you so excited you can't help but multiply everywhere you go. Whatever the gift or talent is you posses, don't hide them away or take a bite every so often. Eat those cookies and share them with the world. Look for opportunities that happen to present themselves. And then take a bite!