The spiritual gifts questionnaire had me stumped. I looked around the room. As far as I could tell no one else seemed troubled: heads were down and pencils scratched busily. I could hear the rustle of paper as someone flipped to the next page.
I, on the contrary, leafed in the opposite direction. For the umpteenth time I turned back to INSTRUCTIONS. No help there, so I moved on.
“When you walk into a room does a hush descend?” Visions of me sniffing my underarms distracted me from finding the ‘you have got to be kidding’ rectangle. So I skipped to the next question. “When you speak, do people listen?” Again my choice was missing.
More precious minutes ticked by while I searched for a ‘not in this lifetime’ option to: “In a crisis situation do you enjoy scrubbing your neighbor’s toilet?” It just wasn’t there.
“Do strangers unburden their troubles on you? Does a blue ribbon at the craft fair fulfill your deepest longings? Are you able to unravel knotty scripture so that people gasp? Do you have fun when organizing events or your closet? Can you keep a secret longer than a three count? During hymn service do people comment on your ability to harmonize? How many musical instruments do you play? Does leadership run in your family? When was the last time you stubbed your toe and said thank you?“
Beads of sweat purled my forehead. I stripped a furry cough drop from a tissue and popped it in my mouth. It only made me tear up. Across the aisle my closest friend smiled triumph and conquest. No way could Amanda be finished already! I was supposed to be the smart one.
The trouble, I decided, had to reside in some misunderstanding on my part. Somehow I had gotten the idea that spiritual gifts were… well, gifts. You know, as in an ‘I don’t have something so God gives it to me’ gift. A gift gift. But obviously I was wrong as I could be. Otherwise I wouldn’t be the only one in the room with a problem.
Still, I was perplexed. I tried to imagine early church fathers passing out papyrus entitled DISCOVER YOUR SPIRITUAL GIFTS – SO SIMPLE. I asked myself would those sturdy pioneers of the faith really need help to unearth a bent for prophesy? Miracles? Gifts of tongues or interpretation? Casting out demons?
And couldn’t they catch on by themselves they were good at sewing like Dorcas? Should they have a workbook? Did Lydia have to study to be hospitable?
Another thing puzzled me: those ancient jails! It had to be incredibly dark down there! How could prisoners see to fill out papers? And where would they get a ballpoint? Did someone test Paul’s singing voice prior to his midnight sonata at Philippi? Did he pass? Did Peter have to cram for his shadow to heal sick folk? Which survey told Paul his hankie could cure?
But this was getting me nowhere. As people began to chatter and preen over their gifts, I felt alone. Someone dropped into the seat next to me. It was Amanda. I stuffed my resentment over her apparent ease with the form. “Mind telling me how you galloped through that lot like a horse afire?”
She took that annoying supercilious tone of hers. “You just put down the first thing that pops into your head and it’ll be right.”
“Easy for you to say, you’re no idealist like me.”
“Why can’t you just relax? Stop making things so complicated!” She flipped open her cell phone and set it to speaker.
I felt huffy but instead of the sharp retort I was thinking, I asked my friend to join me at Starbucks. “We can talk about our spiritual gifts.”
“Sure!” She popped her gum.
I wanted to smack her but noticed I held back. Aha! That was it! Relief flooded over me like a tide. I have a gift and its name is mercy!
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