The Importance of Acknowledging Our Own Gifts

Though I was definitely late to the party — the party known as watching “American Idol,” which, it was recently announced, will end after the next season — I always like to tune in around this time of year to find out who wins the prize after the field has narrowed. And enjoying the young singers’ incredible gifts, their talent for expressing themselves so soulfully through their music, always reminds me of a weekend many years ago in which I learned a powerful lesson about the importance of acknowledging one’s own gifts and talents.

That weekend, I was at a group gathering of about 100 people, and the facilitator opened the meeting by playing the recording of a hauntingly beautiful song. The song was sung by a woman whose only accompaniment was the graceful playing of her own guitar. The lyrics, the voice, and the music were so compelling that I made a note to find out who recorded the CD, so that I could buy it.

Other people in the room were moved by it, too, and after the break the facilitator responded to a person who had asked him about it. He said that the CD wasn’t available; it had been recorded by a friend of his who had given him this copy as a birthday present. He implied that she didn’t feel the music was good enough to record, and that he was trying to address that misconception by playing her music to groups of people.

I bet there were at least 50 people in the room who would have bought her CD — and this is a painful example of how we don’t only deny ourselves when we tell ourselves our offering isn’t “good enough.” We also deny other people the experience of enjoying our talents and skills. Everyone loses out.

Not everyone can win “American Idol”; and not everyone can record a CD that people want to buy. But all of us have gifts and talents that not only are unique but also needed in this world. Let us all share ourselves with each other…by doing so, we not only contribute to our own and others’ joy, we also participate with the Source of all creativity in creating our world.

–Rev. Maggie Oman Shannon

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