I have a fundamental problem with calling someone “gifted,” especially when it comes to spiritual abilities. If it is a “gift,” then whether or not you have the “gift” is entirely dependent upon something outside yourself. Either you have it, or you don’t. If you don’t have it, you might as well not bother trying.
That’s the lie. That’s the problem with using the concept of a “gift” to describe extraordinary talent, regardless of which talent it might be. Nature vs. Nurture. All or nothing. Black and White thinking. No matter what the context, all or nothing thinking is very rarely accurate when applied to anything except artificial concepts.
“But John!” you might say, “No amount of practice will turn me into a Mozart!”
That may be true. And I’d like to see you swim from Seattle to Honolulu. Not likely. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get there. It just means you can’t get there that way. Take a boat. A plane. A submarine. Just because you can’t get there one way, doesn’t mean you can’t get there at all. And just because you can’t think of a way doesn’t mean that there isn’t a way. In fact, just because no one can think of a way does not mean there isn’t a way!
Picture this, if you can. Imagine one of those 3D models of the landscape of some national park that you usually see in the visitor centers. There’s a mountain here, a valley there, a big river here, some streams over there, rocky areas, wooded areas, some flat grasslands, some roads, and so on, and so forth. Now imagine, every “ability” is just a point on the map. Where you are is one point on the map. Where you want to get to is another place on the map. For some things, a short stroll will get you where you want to be. For others, you can hop on a bus and they will take you right to it. Still others can be arrived at by hiking a well-maintained and marked trail. The trail may be steep, it may even be long, but there is a path from here to there. For other destinations, there may not be a way that has already been created for you, at least not that you know of. You may even have to cross huge canyons or wide rivers.
A few months ago, I drove all the way across the country, from Philadelphia to Portland. I did it in 2 days. There were roads every inch of the way. There were bridges over every river. There were tunnels through a few of the mountains. There were places to stop for gas, and food. The path was before me. I could easily have gotten lost, but I knew the way, and I had road signs and even a GPS to help me if I got turned around.
200 years ago, when Lewis and Clark started their Journey to the Pacific from St. Luis, none of that existed. They intended to take an all-water route to the Pacific Ocean. A route that doesn’t exist, mind you. Since no such route exists, you might think they would have failed. But they did, in fact, arrive. It took them a year and a half, and they had to violate that key tenet of the expedition once or twice to make it. But they did it! Not alone, mind you. They started out with over 40 men! No map telling them the way. No roads to follow. Just themselves and their supplies and a willingness to adapt to circumstances along the way.
When it comes to spiritual gifts, there is no gift which you can not obtain. You may not know right now how to obtain it. And that’s okay! You may not even be sure you want it. That’s also okay! You may not be willing to give up what it would take to obtain it. And that’s fine, life is about priorities.
Here’s the real problem. We’re standing on the edge of this cliff. We look as far as the eye can see, and all we see is cliff. On the far end of the gaping crack in the ground is a city, the place we want to be. Our hearts cry out for it. We want to be there. But we see no way down. And if we got down, we see no way up. We see no way around. No way over. No matter which way we look, we do not see the way. That’s okay! You don’t have to see it for it to be there!
For example, if you take off that backpack and dig around in it, you will find a device shaped strangely like a thumb with a button on the end. When you click that button, suddenly a giant eagle comes flying by, and you can jump on his back and he caries you wherever you want to be!
Homages to Hitchhiker’s Guide and Lord of the Rings aside, the point is, there is a way.
That said, just because there was a Mozart, and just because you like music, doesn’t mean you need to strive to become a Mozart. You can, but you don’t need to. If you feel compelled to accomplish something, then by all means, go out and accomplish it. But don’t let the accomplishment of that thing be the basis for your happiness! Be happy with who you are, where you are, and with what you can do right now. For one thing, you’ll accomplish your goals much faster if you do! And for another, if you have that mindset, happiness will forever elude you.
But just because you can’t see how to become Mozart doesn’t mean that you, nor anyone else, can. But that’s exactly what you are telling yourself, and anyone who will listen, when you refer to it as a “gift.”
Moreover, did it really come naturally to Mozart? Did he never have to practice? Did he never experiment? Did he not spend countless hours trying, learning, growing? If we could look back through time, I’ll bet that our concept of “gift” doesn’t really even apply to Mozart himself. So why should we let it apply to anything, thereby inhibiting our own personal growth?