Friday, May 20, 2011


Last week, the Relief Society teacher in my ward asked if I'd share a few words about developing talents. She also asked if I'd share something I had written. I was really hesitant at first, then decided it was too hypocritical to get up and talk about how I've been trying to develop and grow a talent as a writer and not be willing to share, so this is what I wrote: Enjoy.

As a teenager, my paternal grandfather laid his withered hands on my head and softly uttered my Patriarchal blessing. In it, he specifically advised me to ponder the parable of the talents. For years, I would pray extra hard before reading that section of Matthew, half-expecting a secret word to appear in the margins or an esoteric pattern to emerge containing the secret to my life. I soon wearied of not finding answers between the lines and resorted to resting my thoughts on the parable every few months, after a lesson on Talents. Always questioning myself. Which character was I? Did I have five talents? Two? One? and a dusty one at that? As life has wizened me up some, I’ve realized I am all three.

I am the wicked and slothful servant, too embarrassed to even keep a talent in my pocket, to gingerly jingle occasionally as a reminder of what I’d been given. Instead, I throw it down a deep ditch, away from sight. As a child, I loved to write. But, I excelled at Math. And, in a world where early on we must declare ourselves either a numbers nerd or a lover of the arts, I followed the yellow brick road of A’s to a degree in Finance, burying my love of words deeper and deeper along the way.

Then, two years ago I took a risk. Some friends had started a writer’s group and I got out my proverbial shovel and asked if I could come to one of their meetings. And then, then I did something even more daring. I asked if I could come back! And I haven’t missed a meeting since. Over the last two years we have shared the silly and the saintly, laughing and crying, always to the tune of some delicious refreshment, of course. (We are proper Mormon girls).

Word by living word, I have cautiously, painfully, and sometimes by the shovelful, dug out my buried talent. It is starting to live again. Breathe. I sculpt it as best I know how. Realizing I am giving life to my thoughts, so safely tucked inside my head before. Allowing for hurt, shame, and rejection and calling it ‘pruning’.

I am also the servant given two talents, so prone to stare into the deadly mirror of comparison. Two vs. five, always coming up short. Only when gratitude appears do I get to work improving what I’ve been given.

And then, I am the servant given five talents. But, life sometimes requires different talents than those naturally given. My original five did not include a very nurturing spirit, a natural affinity towards motherhood, a love of cleaning or an ability to Betty Crocker my way through whatever is in the fridge. So, I’ve put my five talents to work, trading, earning, learning, gaining new albeit, not-so-natural, talents. Because, in the end, it will not matter whether the talents were given or earned, the Savior will not distinguish. Yes, at that day He will say, “Well done. You have stretched until it stung, you have blessed others until you broke. Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord. (Matthew 25:21).


ducklips said...

Your words ring so true that there are tears in my eyes. Thank you for sharing your talents.

Mother/Sheila/G-ma said...

Jennie, Thank you so much for writing this and then sharing it with the likes of me. I loved it. And love you too, dear former neighbor, Sheila Olsen

Diana Waite said...

YOU are AMAZING and such an inspiration to me--don't know if I tell you that enough! Glad you are my friend! :)

Crystal said...

I love you my dear Jennie! Thanks for sharing your talents with me! I've been on the receiving end of your talent of friendship over the past years - and what a blessing it has been (for me!!!). You've reminded me to keep on; the Lord notices even our smallest efforts. I think you ROCK!

Kim said...

Jennie, you are amazing, and not just because you are an incredible writer. You have always been someone I've looked up to and admired. Thanks for being someone who has an abundance of talents and shared them. You truly are an inspiration to me. Now I want to go find out my talents and work on them.

Kim said...

Jennie, you are wonderful. I say that not because you are an incredible writer, but because you are an amazing person. You have always been someone I've looked up to and wanted to be like. You grab life by the horns and go forward, learning whatever you can. That's impressive. Anyway, thanks for sharing.

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