I recently spent most of my kids' quiet time taking an online spiritual gifts test. Of course the reason I did is only because I want to figure out how I can better serve the Lord and has nothing to do with any pity parties I've been to lately. (You wouldn't know about the parties because I was the only one invited.)
I have a desire to do something important-y. Now. Like write a book (like her or her or her). I have all kinds of great ideas for books to write. But the book ideas that are really good might actually need to be written by other people. So maybe I could launch a ministry for parents who carry the cross of infertility or the loss of a child. But without money and free babysitting I'm pretty limited in what I can do. So maybe I should go back to work and do awesome things like meet deadlines, give presentations, and impress my boss.
Of course all this is just to chase away feelings of being lackluster. Boring. Mediocre.
I keep feeling like my life is ridiculous - stressful despite the monotony - a dance of keeping kids hydrated, fed, clean, happy, and well rested by doing the same thing over and over again. It is unglamorous, demanding, and leaves me with little time for myself.
I also kept hearing a whisper of Truth in the waaaay back, behind all the noise of my inner temper tantrums, reminding me that I don't have to feel impressive to be doing something massively important and beautiful. That voice is also reminding me that if I want peace I need to make sure I'm doing what God wants me to do.
His will is our peace.
But, I still wondered, is this all that He wants me to do?
It is legitiment to believe that my life is more than being able to keep up with the choreography of two toddlers and a baby. Being a wife and mother are two very, very important parts of who I am. But they are not all that I am, and for me it is incredibly important to not forget that.
Yet, I believe in the "season of life" perspective - that in this season of my life most of my time and talent will be focused on my husband and children. In this season there will be little time for writing blog posts - let alone books! - or reading books or long lunches with friends. But this is just a season. The next season, when my kids are in school, my days are a little more my own. The other parts of me, I believe, will come out even more when my children need me less. That might be in five years, it may be in twenty-five years. The important thing for me to do along the way is just make sure I'm doing what He wants.
Still, as I sat down to take the spiritual gift test I wondered if there was some great undiscovered skill in myself that once found would allow me to really do awesome things. Jaw-droppinly awesome things right now, in the season of life of five poopy diapers in an hour, doctors appointments, baths, naps, schedules, and meltdowns. What I found instead is that I am already utilizing the gifts He gave me - I just hadn't named them before or thought of them as gifts and so thought little of them.
My top three, in order, are Faith, Hospitality, and Exhortation.
Faith: This gift is what got me through the last year. I believe in God and His promises and difficult circumstances do little to those beliefs. Even without taking the test I could have told you I had this gift - I never strayed from my faith and it has always been easy for me to accept the teachings of the Church. Thank God.
Hospitality: This gift helps me to connect with people, making them feel welcome and valued. It leads me to connect with people. I never saw this as a gift from God and, quite frankly, I feel a bit of relief that my desire to have people over and feed them is rooted in something holy as sometimes I've wondered if I'm just desperate for friends.
Exhortation: This gift allows me to go to people to "comfort, counsel, and encourage" and "bring out the best in people." Rebuking is a part of it but is done in a gentle, positive way that builds up. [source] Reading this was eye opening for me and I finally understood why I have such a strong attraction to fraternal correction and the first three Spiritual Works of Mercy: admonish the sinner, instruct the ignorant, and counsel the doubtful. I desire these things for myself (to have people fraternally correct me) and to see them more in our Catholic culture.
Faith, Hospitality, and Exhortation - they fit together well, I think. Knowing these gifts does not mean that I shall now go off and do something amazing, but the information will facilitate a much better job at doing what I am doing. I now have a proper lens with which to view my intentions, time spent, and aspirations. I can rest in the knowledge that God gave me these gifts to do His will, and so when I am utilizing them in a Spirit-led way I can have peace that that it is His will I am doing. Discernment doesn't go out the window now that I have these three labels but it does get a heck of a lot easier.
The really beautiful thing for me is that these gifts pair very well with being a wife and mother. Right now I can be fully utilizing these gifts. My husband and children can (and do!) benefit from them, as can my friends and family. They will beautifully carry over to each next season of my life yet they fit so perfectly within this current season. I don't have to feel that my life is a silly repetitive dance of diapers, food, sleep, and play. I can know that in showing my children and husband hospitality, in counseling them to do the right thing, and in holding firmly to my faith in God I am blessing their lives, strengthening my own virtue, and bringing glory and honor to the Lord.
I don't think that sounds boring, mediocre or ridiculous. I think that sounds like exactly what I want. Right now.