“Gifts of the New Year” by S. Janet Gildea From the feature E-Voc, the electronic newsletter from the Vocation Team of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati for single women wondering what new thing God is calling forth in their lives.
Instead of resolutions for change, entering the new year can be a good time to take inventory of what is working for you at this point in your life, what you are good at, what you are learning and developing. Whether you are considering a career change, a move across the country or a vocational choice, taking a look at your skills and capacities, the gifts God has entrusted to you, can provide helpful direction and clarity for the big questions of 2015.
Skills are the abilities you possess, developed through formal and informal study, experience and practice. There are also transferable skills that you might have developed for a particular job or situation but that you discover are helpful and appropriate for other related or unrelated activities. Capacities are the potentials, the raw materials that have real possibility for becoming skills when they grow up!
What can God do with the skills and capacities in you? Test out your gifts in the months to come by putting them to use in a parish ministry or extra-curricular activity. Are you bilingual? Tech-savvy? Good in the kitchen? Seek out a volunteer opportunity to use a familiar skill in a place that is out of your comfort zone. Has someone surprised you with a compliment or affirmation this past year? Lovely voice! Fine analysis! Beautiful prayer! Feedback from others can indicate capacities that are hidden from your own awareness – or that you are shy or reluctant to admit. How might you explore ways to cultivate them?
On the other hand, what skills and capacities are just not present in you? These are not necessarily negatives or deficiencies. Remember the words of St. Paul: “If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?” (Romans 12:17). God doesn’t force us to become what we are not, but lovingly invites us to become who we are.
Jesus saw skills and capacities in the most unlikely people. As you move forward in discernment, ask for the gift of the Spirit to open your eyes to the possibilities God invites you to consider this year.