Discovering who we are…it’s a continuing story that matters

We all have spiritual gifts.

I grew up in a small town in Missouri. As the John Mellencamp song goes, “Educated in a small town; Taught the fear of Jesus in a small town…”

Fearing Jesus? Yes, the church I attended, the same Religion my mother, and her mother, and her mother’s mother all attended, was strict on teaching about sin but short of the love of Christ. Doomsday was quickly approaching, there was no time to waste.

Follow the rules, be good, and don’t rock the boat. God was to be feared. The Book of Revelations was driven home. I was taught to believe in Christ but not to know His love for me.

I was the good girl out of fear. Fear of not being liked, or accepted. Fear of going to hell. Fear of not being loved.

But, I was brave a few times.

When I was old enough to leave that misguided ideology behind, I did. I left the church and never looked back. I went to art school. I believed He had no room for me. I tried to live life “my way” with minimal results. Depression and anxiety gripped me for many years. I was lost.

I moved from that small town with little opportunity to the big city where the world was waiting. I dreamed of big things, grand adventures, and changing the world. Little did I know He would change me.

After many years of going my own way He placed friends in my life that would lead me home. In them I saw that Christ was love, not to be feared. It took me over a decade to find my way back to Him, to find the truth of His love.

“May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all fullness of life and power that comes from God.” -Ephesians 3:19 NLT

So, I discovered Christ’s love for me. Now what? Someone once said, “Pay attention to what makes you cry, there your heart lies.” I started listening to my heart when it cried.

Since my early 20s I have been drawn to reading stories of real women and girls overcoming oppression to thrive. Many have found their way to God’s loving arms. Others have just found their way to a happier life. But all of their stories have touched my heart. Now that I have two daughters of my own, I am even more sensitive of how girls are treated around the world.

It is here where I believe my heart burns to make a change, a difference.

I thought I was bound for big things, for greatness. I thought my story was going to be big. But, it isn’t. I am not the woman who builds a house in Kenya for young pregnant girls. I am not the guy who runs a marathon of 12 days to raise money for a new pregnancy center in Haiti. I am not the blogger who gets a lucrative book deal, then builds an orphanage in India with the money she earns.

No, I am an ordinary woman in Christ who is doing what He has planned for me. His plan may not be the my-name-in-lights kind. It may be a simple plan: share His love and compassion with others.

“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.” -1 Corinthians 12:4-6 NLT

There are days I feel and believe, my story is not big enough, or brave enough, or a tragedy- to-redemption enough. It’s just vanilla. There’s nothing wrong with vanilla. I love vanilla ice cream, especially when it’s topped with chocolate sauce, but vanilla is predictable. It’s perceived as ordinary, boring, safe.

I am not on the missionary fields. Not every person is made for that. I write and share stories of others and, in doing so, I share Christ’s love and compassion for others. And maybe that will be all that I was meant to do.

“You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” -Proverbs 19:21

Here’s what I do know…

God gave us all special talents, strengths, gifts. We must use them right where we are. Not save them up for “when I…”. Sharing your gift means embracing the talents given to you by God. Stop comparing your talents/gifts with someone else. It’s your journey, your road, your story. Small or grand, it is yours and His.

He made all of us for a reason. A specially designed reason, it may not be big by today’s standards. And, that is okay.

To someone, your gift makes a difference. The interesting thing is, once you recognize your gifts and start using them, God brings you to places you never thought or dreamt about going.

It was a long time before I knew the love of Christ. And maybe that was part of His plan, to prepare my heart to share His love with others.

I am a Christian sharing my love for Christ the way He intends me to. My story started out small, like the small town I was born in, but that is not the end of the story, not by a long shot. It is a simple story, but it is a story that matters. Just like your story, it matters. Sit back and enjoy the ride and know He is in the driver’s seat.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” -Jeremiah 29:11

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My story originally appeared titled, “Discovering Yourself” in the e-book “Windows Across the Oceans”.  The book is a collection of stories by women around the world. It was available from  Aliyah at The Warrior and the Flower blog.

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