On sultry summer nights where even somnolence eludes me, ponderings surface from the depths of my soul that have been percolating there undefined for some time.
Practically, and less poetically, I have been feeling malcontent. Small and decidedly unoriginal.
In Christianity there is the idea, the concept, of spiritual gifts. Every believer in Jesus is gifted in some way, a gift given by the Holy Spirit. Teaching, Hospitality, Giving, Service, these are all gifts, but there are more. These types of gifts are something along the lines of personality traits, and it is not uncommon to find Christians asking one another, “What’s your gift” in the same way that non-Christians ask one another, “What’s your Meyers Briggs?” (Equally fascinating to me is the way that Christians hold seminars and devise tests to determine one’s spiritual gift. I am not attempting to mock this, merely saying, it seems fairly secular. ) The gifts are intended to build up the body of Christ, of which each Christian is a member. (Pun intended, perhaps?) Thus knowing your gifts is directly related to participation in body life. This is a wonderful community building thing to stress, and it appropriately is within the church.
Having grown up in the church, and furthermore having grown up in America, I have keenly bought into the idea of being special. I am made in the image of God, says my Christianity after all. Having studied a little Psychology and applied it (hopefully orthodox-ly) to this, I know that I am a combination of micro and macro systems. I also know that I got a personality at birth, which I have some choice of editing, but little choice of changing.
My pastor has been preaching from 1 Peter, and it is chapter 4 verse 10 which sparked part of this reflection. It is, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. “ This set up to say, that late at night in the middle of the hot summer when sleep flees and I am thinking far too introspectively in all the worst ways, I don’t wish to be someone else per se, but I wish that my particular gifts and personality and the combination thereof would manifest itself differently. If there are only so many Meyers Briggs types (16), and only so many spiritual gifts (debateable, but the internet suggests 28) then what is the point of wishing that I had another one? None.
Yet, why is it that some people’s gifts seem so much more visible? One person has been gifted with hospitality and thus has Sunday dinner with their in-laws every other week. Another person’s hospitality involves running a halfway house for destitute women and receiving accolades both in the church and community.
That is the crux of my late night dissatisfaction.
Because, when I write, in fact, I wish that I had someone else’s writing. I have been swimming through Moby Dick this summer, and pecking into Gerald Durrell’s essays on growing up in Corfu. But I have also been observing the blogosphere, particularly those sites ripe and rife with beautiful photography and prose.
I am a terrible photographer because a) I have a poor camera for that. b) I know little to nothing about composition. c) I don’t have an eye for color or contrast.
As to prose, I confess didacticism. I confess it frequently to remind myself that when I write, though I set before myself examples of humor, metaphor or poetry, yet I return to my earnest soapboxery. The habit of hunting for overarching lessons in mundane experiences without just letting some things BE has now ingrained itself too deeply perhaps, to write fiction. It is essaying or nothing. So, it will be essays.
In Christianity, it is the same way sometimes. I don’t mind the gifts that I have, and I don’t wish for other people’s gifts. I just wish that my gifts when combined with my personality were a bit more daring, or imaginative, or visible. I suppose, (grudgingly I will admit this), that my gifts were not given to me to bring glory to myself, but they were given in order that I could build up the church. (Yes, that is their point.) However, on nights like these ones, like sleep, understanding and acceptance are elusive.