I once read a quote by the famous 1960’s columnist, Erma Bombeck. It read:
“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I had not a single bit of talent left, and could say, I used everything you gave me.”
I posted it on my Instagram page and would scroll by it every now and again. When I first read it, my life was in a state of utter confusion. I had a great marriage, was in good health, and had lots of friends. For some reason, I still felt empty. What I ended up realizing a few years later, was that I had spent several years living a life that I thought others wanted me to live. This left me disillusioned, resentful, and confused. That, combined with a whopping diagnosis of infertility, left me in an existential crisis. I would constantly ask myself, “Who am I, and what the hell am I doing here?”
The word “talent” can mean so many things. To me, it represents the gifts that God has given me; gifts that are meant to find their way to help others. If I am a gifted sculptor, then my art can be used to express things that others understand. I can also use my artistic abilities to design other things that can be useful. If I am a strong leader, I can use that to positively influence my friends, family, and co-workers. God gives us all talents. The question is, are we using them?
When we are younger, our talents are often represented in our hobbies. Perhaps we sing, play the guitar, or paint. Maybe we spent our childhood rebuilding old cars with our dad. The sad story that we often hear, is how we relinquish our hobbies so that we can care for our responsibilities. It is often difficult to find the time to do the things we once loved. We have jobs so that we can pay the bills. We have spouses or significant others to devote our time to. Many of us have children. Life gets busy and as I have gotten older, I have watched dreams die.
I am no psychologist. While I think it is healthy to take care of responsibilities, I think it is also spiritually critical that we find a way to always do what we love. We are piling into doctor’s offices by the millions. We are stressed, sad, and discouraged. We are always looking for more. I think that a lot of our spiritual sickness comes from that constant urge to fill the “hole” with stuff. We all think we need a bigger home, a new car, and a bigger wardrobe. The problem is that it only creates a temporary sort of happy. I don’t even know if it’s a real happy.
Pay your bills and meet your obligations…but don’t forget to feed your soul. Take the hike that you have been wanting to take. Go on a camping trip. Write a book. Sing. Play an instrument. Paint. Draw. Go to the park and play a game or two of basketball. Use the talent that God gave you. Use every bit of it.