“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them….” Romans 12:6 (RSV)
January is a time for new beginnings. How often have we started the new year with “This year I am going to do……!!” We look at where we were in the past and strive to make changes that will create a new or better focus as we begin again. Often these new goals are unrealistic and by March we realize we are either discouraged, frustrated, or back in an old rut. How about taking a look at our ‘forecast’ in the light of our individual gifts, the grace given us, and the timing in our lives—-and feel more satisfied with the outcome of our planning.
- What are my gifts? Am I clearly using the talents, abilities, time, and capacity that God has given me? Several in our family of faith are facing changes in their lives brought on by facts of age and health. No longer being able to drive the car; no longer having vision to accomplish tasks that once were easy; finding rehabilitation from an injury or illness has changed the energy and time allowance needed for meetings or committees; or areas of service are requiring reevaluating the ‘gifts’ that now can be used in a different way. If I enjoy visiting but cannot drive to visit another—-why not establish a schedule for phoning those who are lonely or needing encouragement. If I cannot physically perform active duties within my community or church—–why not ask others to come to me—-invite members of the youth group to stop by and record my stories of my personal history; volunteer to fold bulletins or stuff envelopes or sort quilt pieces that can be brought to me; take the time to write out how I performed previous duties and preserve methods of getting jobs done well for the ‘next generation of workers. If time restraints do not allow me to do activities I once did—-because of change of work schedule, change of learning schedules, retirement and travel interfering with volunteer schedules, or energy levels no longer allow use of a gift—– I can take this time to reevaluate what time and talents I can offer and change my course to the benefit of all.
- Grace given to us–! Am I altering the course of my activities and needs with prayerful guidance? God has given me the grace to endure—-whether it be change, pain, energy levels, loneliness, grief, or facts with which I am faced. Refocusing my outlook with the healing help of prayer may open many new windows of opportunity when a door closes . When I look for God’s purpose for my life, listen thoughtfully to His counsel, and heed the nudges I am given—whole new vistas may open to me.
- Let us use them….. Am I looking at what I CANNOT do and not seeing what I CAN do? I am reminded of my precious Mother, who at age 92 with severe macular degeneration and weakness from her fight with cancer, was feeling discouraged that she could not ‘do anything anymore’. She was a DOER and feeling unproductive was depressing to her. We started a list of WHAT I CAN DO. The most prominent thing on that list was SMILE!!! She could still smile though her day in all of her contacts with caregivers , friends, and family. At her passing the following year her tablemate in her Assisted Living setting came to me and said, “I will so miss Emma’s smile—-it brightened my every day!” The remaining gift she was able to use with God’s grace!!
Whether we are young, old, or in between we have been given wonderful gifts and talents that with the grace of God’s guidance we can adapt and grow and use them to the best of our ability.
May your New Beginnings in 2011 shine forth!!
Alice Stephenson BSN,RN,PN
Parish Nurse Consultant