Yesterday at church our guest preacher, Rev. Paul Harris, spoke about gifts…in particular, the gifts of the Spirit. His sermon stirred me to contemplate the words “gift” and “gifted”, so I’d like to reflect on that for a moment here.
I grew up thinking I was not “gifted”. After all, I didn’t get a high enough score on the required tests to be placed in my middle school or high school’s “gifted program”. My brother, on the other hand, was gifted and was in that program. I spent many hours wondering why he got the smart genes and I didn’t. Actually, I was academically successful…strike that…I was in the top 10 students in my graduating class from high school and top 5 from college, but I spent much of my life minimizing my academic achievements “because I’m not gifted”. I told myself, “I did well in these courses not because I’m smart, but because they weren’t the more difficult honors-level courses”. No matter how well I performed on tests or written assignments and no matter how articulate I was in class or during group presentations, I saw only one thing: I’m not gifted.
Over time, I have learned just how wrong I was. Through challenges in my personal life (and the ability to bounce back from them), my experiences in graduate school, my hard work in counseling, my conversations with friends and family, and my involvement in various ministries at my church, I have come to realize that I am gifted. I have been given the gifts of awareness, empathy, discernment, communication, and curiosity about the world around me, among others. These gifts are what led me to excel as a student, despite not participating in the gifted program. These gifts contribute to my achievements as a writer. These gifts make me the compassionate counselor I am today. These gifts have led to dozens and dozens of deep and lasting friendships.
And these same gifts helped me in my recovery from Binge-Eating Disorder. 2016 marks ten years since I started writing my book, Getting Out of B.E.D.: Overcoming Binge-Eating Disorder One Day at a Time. In those early days, it was my awareness that helped me realize I had a problem with bingeing and restricting. It was my spiritual life and faith that helped me discern exactly how to tackle the problem (with counseling and self-help). It was my ability to communicate my needs to my counselor and share my experiences with others through my book that led me towards recovery. And it was my empathy for myself, or ability to cultivate self-compassion, that allowed me to heal on an emotional level.
We are all gifted. We are all of value, exactly as we are. Perhaps 2016 will be the year in which you begin to recognize your gifts, cultivate them, and use them to change your world and the world around you.
Peace, joy, and health,