Thursday, January 22, 2009

Spiritual Gifts

Ok, so now that I talked your ear off yesterday about free will and how I believe God leads us through the aftermath that our choices inevitably leave, I want to have a discussion about the other part of the reader's question (again, everything I'm about to say is my opinion and conclusions I've come to through living it... it doesn't mean I'm right. It's just what makes sense to me). In a nutshell, this is what she was asking me to explain:

If God knew this disease would befall me (because He sees all and knows all) then why would He have given me talents knowing I would later lose them? Why wouldn't He just give me talents that could be used throughout my life, with or without this disease?

I understand this question because it comes from an empathetic person who would have liked to see me spared the emotional pain of loving something and letting it go. I appreciate that. But once again I have to separate the gifts that were given to my body by genetics, from the gifts that were given to my spirit by God.

We are given our bodies from our parents. Those genetics provide us all with the same basic body structures, but different parts of those bodies excel in different people.

Maybe your lung power and your leg muscles have made you a powerful long-distance runner. (I didn't get those genes.) I was given a set of lungs and some vocal chords and an ability to hear rhythms and notes, which just happened to work together to produce somewhat decent singing. All of that is physical... a genetic talent. Now, if you add to it the gift of my spirit, then it adds the ability to feel the meaning of the words in order to bring a level of emotion and feeling to a song.

My vocal chords, strictly speaking, are a genetic gift. It's when I add my own spirit to the song that it begins to make the singing an "experience" ... something that reaches people on a deeper, more emotional or more spiritual level. Do you see the difference? Most of the talent is genetic... the gifts we bring to the talent to make it fulfilling are spiritual.

I had a lot of genetic talents this disease has stripped from me. I used to love to sing, I used to love to dance. I craved being able to work out and exercise. I also used to love to water ski at the lake, and turn cartwheels and do round-offs with the little kids. I used to perform on stage in high school and community theater, I was a cheerleader 
and also ran track and was on hurdle relay teams and did the long jump. I had a wide-array of interests and was certainly never bored.

And I can't do any of those things anymore. But ALL of those things were abilities I could perform because of genetics... without my physical body working correctly, it wouldn't have been possible.

But it's the gifts of my spirit, given to me by God, that were there along with my body... and they still remain after the disease has made my body, in many ways, useless.

While I loved to sing... what I really loved was the emotion that went into it and the connections I felt with the people I sang for. While my physical voice helped that along, the real part of that was spiritual and emotional. Those gifts from God remain and I have those moments of connection with family and friends and you blog peeps that come here.

While I enjoyed exercise and physical activities, part of that was a way to burn off stress or deal with things going on in my life. I remember a moment when I was in college and I was walking down the basement steps in the house we were living in... I jerked in pain, couldn't catch myself and fell down the stairs. I was in pain, but I was SO intensely frustrated because I not only was losing abilities, I was losing the physical ways to cope. I wanted to hit something or go running or even obsessively clean to keep busy... but I couldn't do anything. My physical/genetic body failed me, but God never took away the gifts of my spirit.

I still had the desire to think analytically and write my thoughts so I could learn how to deal with them.

I still had the desire to be positive and find the good amidst the bad.

I still had the desire to learn better ways of coping... He provided me with patience and fortitude and understanding and compassion and empathy.

Genetics took away some talents, but God never did. This disease has taken things from me, but it can't take away the spirit that God put inside of me... the core of who I am... as long as I choose to nurture that side of myself. But like everything in life, because of free will, it's my choice. One I'm grateful I get to make.


  1. I love this. The way you see things is such a treasure. I love the way you see a choice before you instead of seeing a reason to pout and whine. You are quite an inspiration to me, Sara.

  2. i know it sounds cheesy, but...

    you make me want to be a better woman.

  3. Truly inspirational. I would say inspiring others is definitely your gift, not your genetic talent. I understand all too well feeling useless as my genetic body has failed me. It is a daily choice not to feel like the world is passing me by while I sit in a time warp of chronic illness. I choose daily to live and enjoy each moment. When I can't, I'm glad you are out there sharing your thoughts, which give me great strength.
    Bless you and each day you have minus your genetics!

  4. Sara, are you having a rough week physically? I am praying for you. I only ask b/c sometimes when we reflect on will and choice, it is because we are stuck between a rock and a hard place. We have to choose to see the attributes and gifts of our God instead of just accepting and sometimes neglecting them. I love the way you explain choice here, and God's will. He does desire for us to have life, in HIS abundance. You show that life is what you make from what you are given. And your life? Well, sweet lady, it is beautiful.

  5. This is so beautiful. And wise. I think you have the gift of wisdom straight from above.
    Sending prayers and love your way~

  6. Wow, that's so interesting. I'd never thought of it that way. I'm not sure I completely understand what you're saying yet - need to think more about it.

    No matter my level of understanding or agreement, though, I love hearing how you see this world and our God. You continue to choose life and living and joy and peace over the alternatives - and I admire that. You are an inspiration to me, and I'm thankful to have the chance to get to know you through your blog.

    So in sum, thank you for using your spiritual gifts to share with us on this blog!

  7. Thanks for this beautiful post. I am feeling like an ungrateful spoiled brat right now, and I seriously appreciate you setting me straight in such a convicting way. I have so much growing to do! You really have wonderful gifts to share, and thank you for doing so.

  8. That was beautifully written. You have the gift of communicating through song and the written word.

    Thank you for sharing this gift. The spirit found in your words is reaching out and inspiring me, and anyone else who finds their way here.

    Our bodies will test us, all of us, at some point in our lives. It's the spirit within that helps us overcome these test.

    I remember watching a video of the physicist Stephen Hawking, who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which has left him almost completely paralysed, playing with his three children, chasing after them in his motorized wheel chair. His body has completely failed him, but his mind can still generate ideas, about black holes and such, that is well beyond what the rest of us can even imagine.

    Being an atheist I see the source of this spirit more in the chemistry of our minds. Whatever the source, we all need it to overcome the failings of our bodies.

    Reading you blog, and looking at all the great pictures, is one source that feeds my spirit.

  9. I'm cloaked in your spirit-filled words today wrapping them around me and wearing them proudly :)

  10. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord

  11. Though He slay me, yet I will trust in Him. ~Job

  12. What a beautiful way of looking at life.
    I am going to adopt your point of view!
    (and I'm also going to put one of your GREAT buttons in my "mourning into dancing" blog!)

  13. This is amazing, Sara. Your perspective is beautiful.

  14. that was beautiful and i remember you doing all of those things and doing everything to perfection...
    you are a beautiful person sara i always loved the way you took a challange and made it you accomplishment. i love to read you blogs just like i like to listen to your voice on the recording on here. love sheri (goi)