Talents

There’s this phrase I like to use to describe myself. It’s well known by many, but also misunderstood I believe:

“Jack of all trades, master of none.”

On the surface, this phrase seems a little poignant. You’re saying to the world: “I’m not really that great at any thing.” and that thought used to make me shy away from it. I was afraid that people would think I was looking down on myself, that I lacked confidence in what I talents I have.

When you start to dig deeper into the meaning though, something beautiful happens.

You see, I used to be jealous of the people out there who were great at something. They had this one thing that drove them further, this one passion, this one desire that kept them on track. They knew what they wanted out of life and they pushed toward that everyday.

And then there was me.

I’ve felt the call of music ministry from the age of 16, “This is it!” I said to myself. But I believe God had something different in mind.
At 19, in response to my love for art, I enrolled in art college for photography.
I kept my options open, I continued to learn what I could in the realm of music (A story for another day), and I continued to pursue the arts. I painted, I taught myself some graphic design and videography, I got involved in performing arts and discovered a love for musical theater, and I started writing. I loved it all. But where was my one passion?

I believe one of the hardest parts of life is choosing what to go after.

In fact, if there is one thing I’m great at, It’s probably self-awareness. The ability to not be able to lie to myself. To be able to see the harsh reality at all times without rose colored lenses. It’s more like a curse, really. 🙂

I look at every single one of those things I love and can truthfully say that I am not great at any of them.
Why? I would ask God over and over. Life would be so much easier if I just knew what I needed to pursue!

I slowly realized that maybe I wasn’t called to be great at any one thing. God began to challenge me… What was so wrong with that?
Did he promise me that ‘my calling’ would be one thing? Why should my calling happen like everyone else’s? Why shouldn’t I have many talents?

I’ve been so caught up in finding my calling, my special talent, seeking my passion, that I missed the point.

— — —

Today, I was thinking about the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30.

A master leaves money (talents) with three servants. Each servant knows their master is a certain kind of man. He values profit. Yet, clearly he values his servants enough to entrust them with his money. He gives one 5 talents, another 2 talents, and the last servant he gives one talent. He leaves for a while and comes back to find that the servants who had the 5 and 2 talents invested them and multiplied them. The servant with the one talent was scared that he would lose his money and be punished by his master, so he buried it.
The master returns and he praises the first two servants for taking what he gave them and multiplying it. But the third servant he scolds and throws out into the darkness for not having multiplied his one talent.
I’ll admit this story has always seemed a little harsh to me. I mean, he didn’t lose the talent, he could’ve went and spent it, but he didn’t. Was it so bad that he was scared that he would fail his master?

But I realized today that that’s not the point.
Multiplication of one’s talent is a side effect of one’s view of the master. The first two servants knew their master, knew that they had been given a lot of trust, and they knew the weight of what their task was. The third servant didn’t understand that. He let his misunderstanding of the master cause him to dwell on all the wrong things. He was more worried about the talent than he was worried about his master desires.

— — —

God has been showing me lately that I’ve had that one passion all along. That one passion is, and always should be, Him. He has given me many talents, and has entrusted me to use them for his profit, his kingdom’s profit.
I’ve felt that weight from the very beginning. But it’s so easy to become the servant with one talent. To get caught up in what I have to offer, maybe even comparing what I’ve been given with others, hiding my small abilities because they didn’t measure up.

God’s message in the parable isn’t that some people have more than others for any particular reason, his message is that no matter what abilities he has given us we should love him enough to want to use them for his gain.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that having more than one ability is better than having just one thing you’re good at. It’s all the same. As in the parable, it is not the amount of talents that mattered at all.

At the end of the story, The master tells the third servant that he doesn’t deserve his one talent, takes it, and gives it to the first servant. Then he says: “To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.”

I’m finding everyday that if my passion lies in my talents, then I am doomed to fail. But if my passion is for my master, the talents I have are just a tool to please him.
It’s a beautiful thing to be a jack of all trades and master of none. God has richly blessed me with abilities, entrusted me to gain interest for his kingdom. To be a master of nothing isn’t a poignant matter. It means that I’m ever learning, ever growing my abilities. And the truth is, I’ll never become a master of my talents. For my talents are not mine to begin with, they’re his. I am merely holding onto them, using them well, striving to increase them for my master’s hand.

Twenty Eleven.

I think of this year as a boat being tossed in a storm.
It came in a whirlwind of forced responsibility and stressful scheduling… but as a new year always does, I had a hopeful outlook. I experienced many things in the past year, the most important one is that of desperation. I have never felt so desperate in my life, only it wasn’t always a bad thing. It started my health journey and kept me fighting. However, the one sentence that comes to mind when I think about my spiritual walk is this: I’ve never truly been angry at God before this year. It hurts to know I was there, it hurts to know that I neglected my relationship because of my surroundings and situations.
There are times when we must stop trying to fix things… That is, we must stop trying to stop leaks from springing and the boards of the deck from peeling back. There’s a time when even the sail can’t be saved from being torn into shreds. There was a point in the storm when I had to put all of my effort into holding on for dear life. I had to forget about what was falling apart around me. I had to make sure I stayed alive.
But I knew within those dark moments that I wasn’t going to give up. I made a decision a long time ago that no matter what happened, I wasn’t ever going back to living my life without Christ guiding me. I had to give myself some time to step back and look at my life, look at what I was doing and where I was going to go if I continued to let my life run me. One of the only things that kept me going was a small hope for a better future. In fact, I found myself dwelling so much on the future, I ended up finding the one thing I needed most for the future… A renewed desire to seek God. I held on to the tattered rags of promises I had managed to keep with me and finally began to put my life back into action 9/12 (nine-twelveths) of the way through the year.

    As I said before, it hasn’t been all bad.

I created this blog in 2010, which has helped my writing and become a major outlet to emotions.
This year I graduated from college. What was a source of a lot of stress during the process turned into an amazing feeling of accomplishment and good memories.
I also went to Washington D.C. on a much-needed vacation after graduation. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the awesome time I spent with my Dad and brother. It sounds so small, but when you dreamed of running away from life so many times in one year, a small vacation becomes a lifeline of sanity.
Of course, you can’t ignore what I started in the beginning of October. My health improvement. That in itself has changed me more than I could ask for. I am so thankful for that jump-start.
Then there was December… I was in charge of conceptualizing, directing, and finalizing the Christmas Eve service at church. It was the first time I’d ever been given such a great responsibility or trusted that much by any leaders in my life. I learned so much about myself and feel it’s the beginning of things to come. I loved doing it, and I loved being done with it. Haha.

    So what’s going to happen in 2011, you ask?

I have no idea! To tell the truth, I’ve been quite apprehensive about it. I wouldn’t call it scared, but I would call it gun-shy. Even with the last few month’s success, I can’t help but look at the year ahead and think, “What trial is coming next? Why was this past year so hard? Could it be that it was only in preparation of the even bigger storm around the corner?”
My boat is still sailing, but the repairs from the last storm aren’t finished yet. I don’t think I’ll ever have this boat looking the way it did prior to the storm and I don’t really want it to be. I want it to leave evidence of my journey so I never forget the lessons I learned, but I know that my boat is going to come out looking better than it did before.
Even though I don’t have any of my questions answered, I do have this feeling in the pit of my stomach.
This year will change my life.
I’ve already committed myself to more work for His Kingdom than I’ve ever undertaken. I’ve already received a word from the Lord that my main focus this year needs to be on ministry and not on furthering my career or finding a job. I feel a deep conviction every time I send in a job application… it says: “A 9 to 5 job will never work for what I have for you.” …I have student loans to pay off and a bill from the State of TN for damaging the guard rail that saved my life two years ago. These things need money. For my future to get started off on the right foot, I can’t take these debts lightly. It makes tears well up in my eyes to think about it. But I know God will help me make these payments. I know because he has already shown me through different situations that he’s got my back.
Also, this year our new church will be finished and I will say goodbye to the only building I’ve ever described as being ‘my home church’. It’s bittersweet, and entirely exciting. I can’t wait to see what God is holding for us there and what he’ll do in our lives to get us there!
I can only tell you one thing: This year will take everything I have and push it to the brink of greatness and beyond.

    With all of that said, Here are my 2011 resolutions:

I will reach my weight loss goal. I can’t tell you exactly what that goal is, but I know that I’ll know when I get there. For me, it’s not about pounds, inches, or dress sizes. Those are all relative factors. I am already happy with myself, I don’t need a number to tell me when I’m finished.

I will give everything I have to God. Spiritual increase has always been on my list, but this year is going to be different. The goal this year in our church is about spreading the gospel, and I’ve come to realize that a passion for souls has been lying dormant in my spirit since about 15 and only now am I letting it rise up in me. I am going to give everything I have to this and push myself further in other ministries I am passionate about as well. I also plan to amp up my prayer, fasting, and studying life. I do these things, but a step up is never a bad thing.

• I will not ask God for anything in the category of relationships. This one is kind of hard to explain, but I feel it’s another time when I should stop focusing on fixing the boat and focus on keeping myself alive. This isn’t one of those typical ‘I’m focusing on me’ times. This is about is focusing on what God is doing through me instead of what God is doing for me. Oddly enough, I see this one as the most challenging one. You really don’t realize how often you ask God for something until you make it a point not to ask anymore. I do pray that God honors this covenant.

All in all, This year promises to be the most challenging, most fruitful, and most change-filled year I’ve had yet. May your 2011 be the same for you.

Thanks for reading!

Derivation, Perspiration, and Aspiration.

Blood. Sweat. Tears.

Future goals seem to be the running theme for my blog in the last year. I’m always talking about what I want out of life and how I’m getting there. And yet, every time I think about the future, I always end up thinking about the past.
I don’t let it hold me back anymore. I don’t look back with disdain and judgement like I used to. I no longer cry over my past.
Now I think about my past with a bittersweet smile plastered awkwardly onto tear-stained cheeks, eyes glazed over in wonder at how far I’ve come.
These tears are cried for what the past tells me about the future. I wouldn’t call these tears sad. They’re tears of victory and revelation. Tears of insanity and hilarity. Tears of remembrance and longing. Tears of understanding and gratefulness.

Woven within my tears of aspiration are the perspiring of many memories, some failures and some victories… Still, there is one final ingredient missing: Blood.
It’s not my blood, though I’m sure I’ve thought it was my own plenty of times down through my life, but it is the blood of Christ intertwined into every past memory and every future goal that I have.
It’s in Christ that everything I have done is ultimately based and it will most certainly be Christ that my future revolves around.

Down through my life I’ve always lived for one of these three things. Only now, I’m finally starting to see that they are all one. It’s all or nothing. If I live life without the balance of the three, there is just that, no balance.

There is unhappiness and slaughtered expectation.
There is doubt, fear, and rebellion.

There are obvious downfalls to basing your life in only the past or the future. Basing your life in Christ only doesn’t seem so bad though, right? Wrong. When I based my life in Christ alone, it was possible to live for a time without acknowledging my past or future. However, in dwelling in Christ, we are moved to move. It is impossible to be stagnant in the covering of his blood. You can’t continue to dwell under his covering without dealing with the past and future.

When I combine the three, they become a driving motion that pushes me forward into living the way God made me to live. A life of true freedom.

The old phrase rings true:
God covers us in his blood, the heritage of Christ is our derivation.
The sweat of our past comes to join in, the work we’ve done is our perspiration.
The future is within view, the product of our past and the covering of our past by the blood of Jesus Christ is our aspiration.

Our lives are made in Derivation, Perspiration, and Aspiration.

What’s past is past.

Something about the past is so alluring. Maybe it’s because I was more oblivious to the real world back then, or because I miss seeing the faces I saw everyday in high school or at church, or even because I miss being able to hit the beach during the winter months in the sunny state of Florida (I lived there for seven years, spent most of my adolescence there)… I don’t know.

I can miss it all I want, but I can never go back. I understand that and know that it’s probably the best for myself and for others. I don’t wish to go back, I’m excited about how much I’ve changed (for the better I might add) and I wouldn’t care to revisit the old me from a few short years ago.
I guess what I’m saying is that the past is just that: The Past.
Leave it there. So what if your friends aren’t your friends anymore? So what if you got baby daddy drama? So what if you make a wreck out of your life? So what if you’re ashamed of who you were back then? So what if you realized you haven’t really changed at all? It’s the past.
Why don’t you forget about what you were, and how things were, and how much you might miss it and move forward?

What is it with us humans and having to dwell in the past?

I’m just as guilty. I still want to know what might’ve been if I’d stayed in FL, how things could’ve been different. I want to know what would’ve been different if I’d been willing to express my feelings for a certain person I was secretly obsessed with for two years in high school. I want to know what would’ve happened if I hadn’t been so insecure and socially inept. I want to know.
It’s pointless though. Why should I dwell on the past and what could’ve been if I’d been who I am now back then? I know it would’ve been better, and things could’ve possibly turned out more in my favor if I could go back. But why bother?
I’m here now.
You’re here now.
Past regrets and conflicts are nothing compared to what you could do with your life now.
So go make the past right, apologize or confront.
But you can never go back.
So look forward.
What’s past is past.