How do you feel about the unique gifts and talents that God has given you? Do you look at other women and envy their natural talents or their spiritual gifts? Do you wish He’d given you a bolder personality or made you more energetic so you could keep up with the other moms who seem to ‘do it all’?

As Heather Wagner reminds us, our daughters are watching. They’re noticing whether we’re embracing or fighting against the design He has for our lives. And they’re taking it all in. What message do we want to send them?

Baking is not one of my strengths. So when there’s a bake sale, a teachers’ luncheon, or some other event that requires that skill, I’ve learned to step aside and let those who have a talent for it shine.

Oh, how I wanted to be able to whip up boxes full of beautifully decorated and delicious treats. I dreamed of it, actually. I saw myself standing in the kitchen with my daughter at my side, listening to music and baking together until every bit of counter space was covered in our tasty creations. 

I tried to invest in and improve my skills, but the entire process gave me great anxiety. In my heart, I knew this wasn’t my scene, but I stubbornly pursued it for a time. You see, I didn’t have a baking problem, I had a heart problem.

“But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic” (James 3:14-15).

Well, there it is. That’s why it took me so long to let go. I’m hoping at least one of you is reading along and nodding because you’ve been there, too.

ACCEPTING MY GIFTS AND TALENTS

Eventually, after a number of epic failures in the kitchen, I decided to stop wasting my time and money on baking mediocre treats, and start looking for other ways to help during food-based events and activities. 

I could step in and purchase paper goods or packaging products. I could volunteer to help set up, or handle the clean up. I could make posters and signs to help get the word out. 

Most importantly, I could encourage and support those in my circle who were amazing bakers. If I paid attention, I could find a way to contribute. Yes, it was a little bit humbling, but to be honest, it was a relief to hang up the apron. And my daughter? She had a front row seat for all of it.

Maybe you’re thinking, “Okay, Heather, you can’t bake. Big deal.”

You’re right. The fact that I can’t bake well isn’t a big deal. But reaching a place where we can stop walking circles around our weaknesses is a big deal. As long as we’re distracted by all the things we wish we could do well, we can’t pay serious attention to the things that we can do well.

What could possibly be more fulfilling than using the divine gifts that God, in His great wisdom and grace, equipped us with to accomplish the good works He set aside for us to do? (Ephesians 2:10).

Nothing. The answer is nothing.

OUR DAUGHTERS ARE WATCHING US

We can try new things and explore new hobbies, but it is important that we acknowledge, grow, and use the gifts and talents the Lord has given us. And it’s imperative that our girls see us pursuing those things, because even when we fall short, watching us try can help them find the courage to do the same.

But if we’re determined to be the best at everything, how can we convince our daughters that they shouldn’t strive for that same impossible goal?

If we can’t genuinely celebrate with our friends in their successes, how can we expect our daughters to rejoice with those who rejoice?

If we’re not acknowledging and cultivating our gifts, how can we tell our daughters that it is important for them to embrace theirs?

Ultimately, we can’t. That’s why it’s so important that our daughters see us living out our faith, because they’re not going to find it out there in the world.

LOOKING BACK

The Enemy delights in taking us on snipe hunts, keeping us busy and frustrated, and promising connection and fulfillment around every corner. 

It’s a tactic he’s been using for a long time. 

I know it’s not a place most of us like to visit, but take a moment and think back to who you were in middle school. What do you see? 

I see a contemporary coliseum serving as a modern-day venue for the preadolescent version of survival of the fittest. For some of us, it’s the first place we truly struggled to belong, the first place we tasted failure, the first place we prayed to be invisible.

After one week of 7th grade, I would’ve done just about anything for a pair of Gerbeau jeans, some Cole Haan loafers with the fringe flap, and a hunter green Dooney and Burke handbag. 

Why? Because it was the mid-90s, and I was desperately trying to craft a second persona that would catapult me into the middle echelon of the social scene. Those articles of clothing were merely the required costume. 

The ‘popular crowd’ was a mystery to me, but when I saw what was happening to the girls at the other end of the social ladder, I quickly decided that if I looked a certain way, I’d be safe. Oh, my naivety!

Like most girls, I was just starting to rub shoulders with some of my gifts and talents. After comparing mine against everyone else’s, I wasn’t at all content with what I’d been given, and I’m sure God was sick and tired of hearing about it.

“Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?” (Romans 9:20, NLT).

I could’ve used a mentor to speak the truth in love, and point out how my flawed thinking didn’t align with the Word of God. Our daughters do, too.

LOOKING AHEAD

Yes, we all survived. But wouldn’t it be awesome if our daughters could come out of middle school with fewer scars on their hearts?

Our children want to know who they are, and if who they are is okay. The world shouts back: “I don’t know—are you beautiful? Are you wealthy? Are you smart? Are you talented? Prove it! And then I’ll tell you what you’re worth!”

But Jesus is our Anchor, and we can be their compass for a time. 

Although sometimes it doesn’t seem like our daughters are listening to a word we say, they are. 

We can approach them gently, with humility, and tell them that God says they’re more than just okay. 

We can open the Word and show them that He thought of them before they were born, that they were fearfully and wonderfully made, that He placed them exactly when and where they were supposed to be, that the way they think about themselves matters. 

We can share our struggles, and laugh at a few of our failures, and remind them that the body of Christ needs them to be who they were meant to be.

“If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose” (1 Corinthians 12:17-18).

As He chose. No returns accepted.

 

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13 comments
  1. What a beautiful post! It is so refreshing to hear that it’s good and okay to be who you’ve been created to be! Thank you!

    1. Thank you, Kristin! I’m so you glad you found the piece refreshing, and hope you feel encouraged to embrace exactly who God made you to be.

  2. What a wonderful and convicting read. I especially loved the Bible verses you chose to include. Thank you for sharing your gifts!

    1. Hi Tricia! James 3:14-15 definitely convicted me, too! I didn’t want to bake because it was something I was genuinely interested in learning how to do. I wasn’t looking for a hobby, I was looking for affirmation and kudos. And If you think that sounds a lot like selfish ambition, I’d have to agree. 🙂

  3. Thank you so much for this! I’m not even a mother yet and this has touched my heart and made me realize some things! Thanks for being who God made you to be!

    1. Oh, Alyssa! Thank you for reaching out! I’m so thankful that God used this article to touch your heart. How blessed are we to serve the One who weaves all things together for our good and his glory.

  4. Hi Heather! I am 62 years old with grown sons. I wanted you to know that that your article brought healing for my younger self! I hope to be a good example of a Godly woman for my daughters in law and granddaughters. Thank you!

    1. Now I’m crying in my coffee. Thank you for sharing, Terri! God’s timing is perfect, and I’m so glad you were able to let go of whatever your younger self was still holding onto. Praise the Lord, whose strength is made perfect in our weakness!

      REPLY

  5. I LOVE this, Heather! Such a great reminder for me with a 14 year old daughter! I only have a few more years with her in the house to influence her self-image. Yes, I’ve messed it up in the past, but it’s never too late! Thank you for sharing! ❤️

    1. Thank you, Tracey! Oh my gosh, yes! I stumbled around in that area, too. (In fact, I still do.) And the social media scene makes it more difficult for our teens to hear above the noise!

      Even as adults, we feel the heat from the self-image oven, but we don’t have to be consumed by it, and neither do our kids. We can help them recognize the lies the world is selling them, and give them the weapons from the Word they need to not only reject that nonsense, but destroy it.

      “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 2:10, NIV).

      You’ve got this, Mama!

  6. Now I’m crying in my coffee. Thank you for sharing, Terri! God’s timing is perfect, and I’m so glad you were able to let go of whatever your younger self was still holding onto. Praise the Lord, whose strength is made perfect in our weakness!

  7. This is such a needed message! Thank you, Heather, for encouraging us to pursue God’s will for us and not our own. Our individual gifting provides freedom, not limitation!
    P.S. One of the most valuable things I learned as a young mom was to put my name by “paper plates” on school party sign ups. You and I are kindred spirits. 😉

    1. Thank you, Valerie!! Your tip is GOLD! Why did I never think of that!?
      I hope other mamas who relate with our baking struggles see it and put it to good use. 🙂

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