When I was younger, I had a hard time discovering my talents. I tried lots of things, but didn't feel like I was great at any of them. One of my leaders who I had as a Merrie Miss and later as a Young Women President, Tammy Borrego, pointed out to me once a rather unseen talent that I had with children. I remember discounting this as a talent because I was so boring, her baby always fell asleep on my lap when she got passed down the row of us in the back of the Primary. She stopped me and pointed out that I was the one she fell asleep on each week because I knew just how to hold her and comfort her so that she could rest when she was so desperately sleepy. That made such a big difference in my life! I had always loved to be around children, but now I saw what I did as something only I could do. Something to be proud of. Something I was actually good at.
I love music and I have played the piano and the clarinet. Neither exceptionally well and neither anymore, but I did learn to play them once upon a time. I taught myself how to sing alto. Not well enough to sing a solo or even a duet, but I do alright in a group setting like Church. I can cook well enough to feed my family without too many stomach aches. I have a knack for reading people and being able to tell when what they're saying is only part of the story. I have been able to lift people when they are down and been the other half of some really, really neat conversations because I am open, receptive and have become a good listener.
I am known as a seamstress. I sell a little here and there and I'm good at mending and sometimes even a little light tailoring. I have a passion for writing. I love to tell stories and to figure out how to make them funny and exciting and to hone them until they're smooth reading.
Of course, I'm not naming these things in order to brag. Rather, I sometimes need to point out to myself where my talents lie. I need a reminder of the gifts The Lord has given me that I should be sharing. I don't want Him to come back to His vineyard and I bring him the same talent he gave me that I buried and I say, "Here it is, I did nothing with it." I want to use and share my talents over and over again. And the funny thing about that is that instead of being used up, they multiply when you do that. You gain more talents by sharing the ones you have.
Today, I started my fast with a question. Which talent should I focus on? Sewing or writing? From a financial point of view, sewing is a more ready avenue for earning money. It is a way I can contribute money to our household. But, as of late, writing has been begging me to spend time doing it more and more. I daydream about my stories. I get really fired up when I'm talking about them or working on them. But (and this feels like a really big 'but' some days!) I'm a ways off from making money at it even if I ever do. I struggle justifying time spent on these two things because I tend to need to put a value on it. And often it feels like I need to put a monetary value on it.
So, during Church I was keeping an ear out for someone to say something in a testimony or a lesson that would help me make decisions about how to "spend" my talents. I had no doubt it would come. Sure enough, during the last hymn of Sacrament meeting inspiration struck so hard it brought tears to my eyes. We were singing the last hymn and I was really excited to subsitute for my friend teaching the 16 and 17 year old youth. I love to teach and share my testimony with small groups of people. I really, really love feeling their testimonies back! As I thought about how excited I was, I thought about how loving to write helps me to teach and how I can share my testimony when I write, too. And then that feeling came when it feels like The Lord reaches down and puts His hand on your shoulder with a smile and that look in His eyes that says, "Yes! That!"
I know my Heavenly Father loves Me. I know He cares about how I spend my time and I know He loves to use me to help uplift and inspire others. I also know I am not perfect. I am not now the best writer I can be. I know only that I love to try to become so. It's discouraging and I don't have any tangible rewards from it yet, but that doesn't mean it's not valuable as a talent.
Of course, I will still sew for you if you ask. ;) I hope to sew some more wheelchair coats this winter. I love to use the talents I have been blessed with as much as I love to be blessed by the talents of those around me. Take it from me, don't bury your talents! Use them! Love them! Embrace the special abilities Heavenly Father sent you with to this earth! Life is so much more fun and fulfilling when you do.