Enjoying each other’s gifts

A couple of weeks ago Shannon had a post titled Wonder Woman Is Just a Chick in Tights and Barb wrote about Murdering a Myth, both posts having to do with not thinking that any of the bloggers we read are super-women, realizing that we only see brief glimpses of their lives and not the whole picture, being careful not to compare ourselves with others, etc. I agree with everything they said, so I am not going to repeat it here. I did just want to bring up one other aspect for thought, though.

Let me try to convey what I am talking about with a non-blogging example first. At our ladies’ meetings at church, different ladies sign up to hostess each meeting by bringing refreshments and setting up the refreshment table. One lady who used to attend was really gifted at putting on a spread and did several really neat dishes. We all really enjoyed it. But I heard a little bit of a buzz afterward along the lines of “How can I ever follow that?” So I felt I had to reassure ladies that it was ok to just bring a pan of brownies, that it was ok to keep it simple, that the refreshments weren’t the main point of the meeting. And that’s true. But then I almost felt I was discouraging anyone who was gifted in that area from exercising that gift. And I thought, why can’t we just enjoy it when someone excels in an area rather than comparing ourselves and then feeling depressed about it?

Years and years ago, probably before I had kids, I attended a ladies’ Christmas party in a different church where each lady was supposed to bring some type of food. Heaven knows there are some situations like that in which I am doing good to bring just a package of Oreos, but that particular time I had seen a neat idea for wrapping a Styrofoam cone in foil, placing it upside down on a tray (like a Christmas tree, mimicking the aluminum ones that were popular at one time) then sticking little cut-outs of cheese and little bits of vegetables on toothpicks all over the cone to look like ornaments (with a little star cut out of cheese with a cookie cutter on top. 🙂 ) Then, this idea from a magazine also involved boiling the long green parts of green onions until they were limp and the using them like ribbons to tie little groups of carrot sticks and celery sticks together to place on the tray around the cone like presents. (That does all sound a little over the top now, doesn’t it? I might still do the cone thing another time, but probably not the boiling and wrapping.)

When I brought that tray to the party, at first people oohed and ahhed over it (and we do have to be careful that we’re not always doing things to get oohs and ahhs. I don’t think it’s wrong to bask in someone’s appreciation, to be pleased that someone enjoyed our efforts, but if we’re living for that, if we get down because no one oohed and ahhed, that’s a problem — but that’s a different post). But then someone made what seemed to me a cutting remark — I don’t remember what was said exactly, but something like, “Some of us just don’t have time for that kind of thing!” She probably didn’t mean it this way, but her tone seemed to me to say, “Some of us have more important things to do.” I don’t know if I am adequately conveying it, but it hurt, and it took a lot of the pleasure out of having tried to do something special.

As I look over the different aspects of my life, I don’t see any area where I would consider myself an expert. There is always going to be someone who can do anything that I can do better than I do it. And that’s ok.

I do believe in striving for excellence as unto the Lord, for improving, for doing my best. But we shouldn’t necessarily be striving for excellence to beat everybody else out. Unless we’re Olympic athletes or something. But can you imagine living with that kind of pressure, to be constantly striving to be better that everyone else, and when you’ve achieved it, you’re only the best til the next competition? I am glad I am not called to that.

I said all of that to say this. There are bloggers who excel in many categories. There are experts in frugality. There are efficient and creative homemakers. There are organizational whirlwinds. There are inspiring crafters. There are excellent writers who bring tears to me eyes or have me laughing out loud (sometimes in the same post!) There are those who excel in housekeeping, in parenting, in wifing, in their line of work, in devotional writing, in Biblical teaching — in every area. And I think most, if not all of them, are blogging sincerely without any smugness or desire to make anyone else feel bad.

So, instead of comparing ourselves to each other, which the Bible tells us is unwise, why can’t we just enjoy each other’s gifts? We may even be inspired and take away a few pointers. When I peruse crafter’s blogs, I may not do the exact things they do, but their creativity inspires me to be creative. Someone who takes joy in their housekeeping inspires me to think of it joyfully as well, even if I don’t do every little thing they do in the way they do it. I may not emulate every tip of a frugal blogger, but their carefulness and watchfulness inspires me to be more careful in my spending. I have to admit, I have read some gifted writing amongst some bloggers, and I’ve looked up to the ceiling and thought, “What do I think I’m doing trying to write? I should just point people to them!” And sometimes I do. But each of us has our own sphere of influence and our own calling. We can glean from others, learn from them, be inspired by them — and just enjoy their exercise of the gifts and talents God has given them while seeking His wisdom and strength for what He wants us to do.

14 thoughts on “Enjoying each other’s gifts

  1. Thank you so much for these wise words. It’s so easy to compare our abilities with others, maybe get proud of our gifts or jealous of another person’s talent instead of thanking God who has given each individual their gifts.

  2. I agree with you 100%!!!! I love to read blogs and learn from other ladies, and I often fall into the trap of comparing myself to them. I also have the tendency to not want to try something unless I can do it perfectly and/or impress people. The Lord convicted me several years ago that this attitude is pride. You did an excellent job of reminding me to just be and do my personal best and look for God’s approval instead of a bunch of people’s approval.

  3. Hello,
    I enjoyed this post. The same thing happened in our Homemaker’s club. It seemed each hostess tried to have a bigger spread than the one before her until we had so much food offered we couldn’t possibly eaten it all. I would like for them to get back to just one or two items. But I never felt like I had to do what everyone else did. Just as you said.
    I’ve had similar remarks made about other offerings I’ve made such as the gift I gave a neice at a shower.

    We all have our own unigue gifts and ways of expressing ourselves. I like the diversity we have in the blogging world.
    Blessings,

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  5. Barbara, thanks for this.
    I’ve been reading similar things lately on the blogosphere, but yours is the 1st one that didn’t seem to be tearing down those who seem to “excel”.

    I like what you said about just enjoying the talent God gave them.

    Lizzie

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