Gifted people are fascinating. And not just because of their remarkable talent, but because they don’t always get it, that the rest of the world is in awe of them.
Our daughter-in-law, Tiffany, is an amazing artist and stylist. She recently posted a photo in her blog, Oktopodes, of a ceramic longhorn skull she made that looks like the real, honest-to-goodness thing. As she describes the steps she took to make it, one of them says, “Then I just carved into the clay, and added more to form the shape of the skull.” As if anyone could do this if only they would try. I had to laugh; I could “just carve” into clay and stick some on for a year and it would never resemble a real skull.
Our daughter, Nicole, is the same way. When some friends wanted to pay her for some sketches, she was shocked that they didn’t just whip up the drawings themselves. When she quickly drew some old houses we saw downtown and I told her how incredible her work was, she literally said, “Well, they were right there.”
Our son, Richie, had a math teacher who wrote an “unsolvable” equation on the board, and was surprised as he handed in the solution, that it wasn’t a joke-he was sure everyone else would be able to solve it as well.
We see this all the time– scientists, musicians, athletes- we admire their gifts and cannot fathom how they make it look so easy. It goes beyond “standard” talents, too. We all know people who, from childhood, have charisma and natural leadership, an amazing work ethic, tremendous compassion, great listening skills. Some people always know exactly the right thing to say. Others can anticipate what’s needed and fulfill duties before you even assign them. Our son, Brandon, could sell snowballs in Alaska. Our third son, Cassidy, can make anyone laugh when they’re having a tough day. Some folks are highly organized. Some are humble and quick to apologize, no trace of pride in their souls. These forms of social giftedness are equally valuable, though perhaps not as heralded as “report card talents.”
But what about Spiritual Giftedness? Does it exist?
Early leaders spoke of members who were quick to accept restored truth as having “believing blood.” Years later, Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “What then is believing blood? It is the blood that flows in the veins of those who are the literal seed of Abraham-not that the blood itself believes, but that those born in that lineage have both the right and a special spiritual capacity to recognize, receive, and believe the truth. The term is simply a beautiful, a poetic, and a symbolic way of referring to the seed of Abraham to whom the promises were made. It identifies those who developed in pre-existence the talent to recognize the truth and to desire righteousness.”
But whether directly descended from Abraham or not, thousands of people have felt the witness of the Holy Ghost immediately upon encountering the restored gospel. Some, the minute they touched the Book of Mormon. Some when they first saw a missionary, even before a word was spoken. And even within one’s own home, we can see differences in faith and the ability to embrace God’s commandments. Some people simply seem to have a talent for it.
So what about the rest of us – the rebels, the skeptics, the slow to obey, the close-minded? I believe this is the one realm of giftedness that can transcend our genetics. Despite our natural tendencies, this is a “talent” any one of us can attain. And attain it in spades.
Frankly, any talent we truly need is within our grasp. The 46th chapter of the Doctrine and Covenants speaks extensively of gifts, and says, “…seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given…” This implies a fluidity of gifts, not a finite assignment of them.
And throughout the scriptures we are told of weak people being made strong, and shown examples of the faithful who were blessed with outstanding abilities in the very areas where they had always felt lacking. So, if God can take us, like clay in an artist’s hands, and make us into something else, why not make us more spiritual beings? Of all the talents we could desire, shouldn’t spirituality be pre-eminent? If we beg our Father in Heaven to make more of us than we can become alone, and we demonstrate a heart dedicated to this task, why would he not?
Spiritual Giftedness is something we can set as a priority, and work towards with every confidence that God will help us along. It’s not just something certain people have while the rest of us are out of luck. Like Eternal Life, it’s available to every human being ever born, something we can set our minds to and earn. It was made possible by Christ’s atonement, which overrides genetics and the natural man if we but access it through genuine repentance and commitment.
Next time you hear someone described as “gifted,” pause for a moment and think, “Me, too.” Whether today, or in the future, Christ can shape you into a humble disciple who is honestly Spiritually Gifted. And this time, anyone can do it if only they would try.
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Hilton currently serves as a Relief Society President.
Kent BusseMay 9, 2014
Right on! Working once in a church school (Lutheran?) I saw a poster stating "All children are gifted. Some of them haven't opened their presents yet."
Voin CanpbellMay 9, 2014
Good synopsis of the subject. I to believe that those of the linage of Abraham, though born with certain abilities, can easily loose them by ignoring them. I also believe those of gentile blood, can recognize and receive truth if they desire to do so. Blood line, though real, is not the determining factor. Desire and integrity of heart is.