When I was a diehard Catholic, I used to enjoy sitting in the quiet church on Sunday mornings between the two Masses. (Now I enjoy sitting in the quiet anywhere I can find it!) My best friend taught Sunday school for fourth graders during that hour.
One morning, I sat very still in prayer and meditation near the front corner of the church. My prayer-book and folded hands rested in my lap. Sometimes I followed the printed prayers; sometimes I gazed at the crucifix; and sometimes I kept my eyes closed.
I’d been in complete silence and solitude for about twenty minutes when my friend entered the church with her students. She wanted them to practice standing up and speaking in the church because they would be leading all the children in prayer the following Sunday.
I sat still but listened as my friend coached her students on how to speak slowly and how to be loud enough without becoming too loud. Some of them were distracted or full of questions. I smiled to myself as I listened to my friend patiently teaching the children. My heart overflowed with love and gratitude for the gifts God had given her in working with children and for her ability to put those gifts to good use.
Later, after Mass, I had an opportunity to chat with my friend. She said, “Oh Lisa, I saw you sitting up there in prayer and I thought, ‘I could never do that.’ I thanked God for giving you the gift of prayer. I know you pray for me and everyone.”
I laughed and told her I’d been sitting up there thanking God for her – and for her beautiful skills in teaching children. I said, “I could never do THAT, so it’s wonderful seeing someone who CAN.” We laughed and hugged each other.
Wouldn’t it be great if we all appreciated each other’s gifts? Rather than being envious (at one extreme) or judgemental/critical (at the other extreme), wouldn’t it be wonderful to just sit back and enjoy watching what other people do so well?
Everyone has gifts and talents. Sometimes the talents we observe are very different from our own. What one person can’t do at all, someone else does perfectly. I believe everyone’s gifts are equally valuable because they all fit into the puzzle of life. When we each use our talents to the best of our ability, we help make life beautiful for everyone.
Let us take time to notice what other people do well. We may choose to pay them a compliment – or not. What matters is that we grow in appreciation and gratitude.
Life gets better when we learn to cooperate by letting each person do what he or she does well. Instead of worrying about what we cannot do – or aren’t even interested in doing – we should focus on cultivating our strengths. When each person uses his or her gifts, and seeks to strengthen them, the entire community becomes stronger. Bonds are created through appreciation rather than competition. This sense of appreciation has the power to change our view of the world.