9 years ago …
Tap, tap, tap. A knock on my bedroom door. I sighed. What was it this time? All the kids should have been sleeping by now. “Come in,” I said. My 7-year-old son timidly entered my room. He had tears in his eyes.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Why can’t I draw?” he moaned. He collapsed onto my bed, and I took him in my arms as he began to cry.
I knew this was coming. My oldest daughter was 9 years old and very gifted artistically. This had always been fine with him. Being the second oldest, he expected her to be better at things than he was. But now his younger sister was 5 and his younger brother was 4. Over the past few months it had become obvious to all of us, to friends, family, even my kids’ Sunday school teachers, that they also had real talent. Both my 5 and 4-year-olds could draw better than my 7-year-old. This was hard for him to take.
It’s not that he drew poorly. Really, his fine motor skills were probably about average for a boy his age. It’s just that in this particular area he was just so far behind his siblings.
My son was wearing a red and blue pair of pajama pants. They were one of his favorites. They had soccer balls and baseballs printed all over them. He was sleeping in his Phillies T-shirt. If wearing a Phillies’ hat to bed had been comfortable, he probably would have been wearing that as well. His hair was tossled and his eyes were red. I looked at him and loved him.
“Suppose it was your birthday,” I said. “Dad and I decided to give you a huge box of baseball cards. 250 were inside the box. All of your favorite players were inside, including every single player on the Phillies’ team. We also decided to give you a beautiful, soft, snuggable purple stuffed horse. What would you say?”
My son’s face brightened immediately as he thought of all those baseball cards. “I would love all those baseball cards!” he said.
“What about the horse?” I asked.
“Well, I wouldn’t want the horse,” he admitted. “I’d probably just give it to my big sister. She loves horses. She would play with it.”
“So, the horse wouldn’t be a very good gift for you, would it?” I asked.
“But the baseball cards you would love?”
“Yes.” He smiled a bit and rubbed his red eyes.
“So there really would be no use in giving you the horse at all, right?”
“I wouldn’t want it.”
“Well, our Good Lord has given you, your sisters and brothers different gifts. He knows that being a great artist wouldn’t be the best gift for you, but it is a good gift for your brother and sisters.”
“But why?” asked my son. “Why can everybody else draw except me? Why doesn’t God give me this gift too? I don’t have ANY gifts!” he insisted.
“That’s not true at all.” I reminded him. “You are very smart. You’re a wiz at math. You’re a great athlete. And God has given you the gift of compassion for others, which is something I just love about you. Besides all that, you will probably find He has given you other gifts as you get older.”
My words, answers, and reassurances really weren’t enough for him that day. He rested in my arms. I held him for a while and then eventually sent him back to bed.
In the years to come I found that the gifts I had seen in my son at that young age began to grow and develop. He is now 16 years old and an amazing soccer player. He is bright, wants to pursue a career in math, and still has a heart of compassion. In addition to these I see God has also given him a gift with public speaking, teaching and writing. These gifts suit him well. I see how God is using these gifts for His Glory and fortunately, he no longer wishes to be an artist like his siblings.
When I first began homeschooling the struggle was real. My oldest didn’t want to be homeschooled and made that clear to me everyday. I had four children aged 5 and under and my life consisted of one thing after another all day long. I looked at my friends and couldn’t help being a bit envious:
Friend #1: Completely gorgeous. Always a smile on her face. Her house was always clean and beautiful. She had dropped out of highschool as a teenager and eventually went back and got her GED. She was doing an outstanding job homeschooling her son.
Me: Somewhat plain. Circles under my eyes from being up every night with the baby and whichever one of my other children had a nightmare. In my pajamas much of the day. Hair messed up from the baby grabbing it. Still trying to get rid of the pregnancy weight. My house: Always a wreck. Education: I have a college degree, but I found homeschooling very difficult.
Friend #2: Bilingual. Made Spanish a regular part of her homeschool day.
Me: English only education.
Friend #3: Sick with a terminal illness, yet never complained. Still managed to homeschool her son.
Me: Drama queen. The sky was always falling at my house.
Friend #4: Amazing athlete. Full of energy. Always bringing her kids to sporting events and having get-togethers at her house.
Me: Awkward with sports. (I was always picked last for teams in gym class.) Really couldn’t offer much to my kids in instruction in this regard. Couldn’t even think of having others over; I was too overwhelmed with all that I was already doing.
Friend #5: Mother of 8 at the time. Homeschooling oldest four while managing the younger four and doing an awesome job. (Now she has 10!)
Me: Struggling to homeschool just my oldest.
Looking back I see that God had given me gifts. I just wasn’t seeing them. And, as time has gone on, and my kids have gotten older, He’s given me other gifts as well. As a parent knows which gifts are best for each child, so my Heavenly Father, in His Wisdom, knew what gifts were best for me. I had different gifts than my friends because their gifts would be lost on me. I wouldn’t use them, or I wouldn’t use them correctly.
Child of God are you struggling as you compare your gifts with others? Perhaps, like my son, you don’t even see what gifts you have. You may not see them, but they are there! Know that God loves you. He has already given you all that you need to do what He’s called you to, and as time goes on, He will probably reveal other gifts as well. May God encourage your heart this day as you struggle through this homeschool adventure. May He reassure you of the many good gifts he’s given you for His purposes. And if His words just don’t seem to be enough, may you rest in His loving arms this day!
1 Corinthians 12:16 “And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.”
1 Peter 4:10 “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
Galations 6:4 “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.”
Copyright March 10th, 2015 by Gwen Fredette
All Scripture taken from NIV (New International Version)