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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Greenberg

Stop Over-Giving Creatively and Start using Your Gifts for God

Growing up a “gifted” child is no picnic. On the contrary, being favored of the Lord is like wearing a giant bull’s eye, something Jewish people have lived with for centuries, and the number one way to get rejected by other people.

Gifts and Favor

Favor is not something you can explain to a child easily. In fact, being “special” often meant you got to ride the “short bus,” just another way to be labeled as weird. But honestly, everybody is gifted of the Lord and sometimes, that gift is left undeveloped or misunderstood. So, being “ordinary” is safer and somehow we marginalize the “special” and inadvertently thwart the plan of God in each other’s lives instead of searching out what is unique about each person and celebrating it.

I have an old friend, sweet guy, who has a gift for discovering the most beautiful grains of wood for the finest furniture creations. He is not the carpenter, he is the “finder.” Planks of wood that I would pass by, he discovers and cultivates their beauty. I like to think I do that with people.

Creative Expression

Often creative people find ways to express themselves in one medium after another, after another. As a child I went from obsessing with lego building to drawing house plans by middle school. I wrote poetry that won awards, created mime skits that made the school newspaper and was the lead in our elementary play of Oklahoma. I was a child prodigy singer by 12 years old and then my father died and I shut down completely until I found the Lord in college.

As a young believer, wife and mother, I used to draw, batik, paint, sew, bake, etc. I know full well that I am no different than any other person that likes to be creative. And, I used to love to cook and feed my family! However, I also used to eat to fill the giant emptiness inside me that no amount of creativity could fill. 

Major Lifestyle Changes

See, creative people are not always liked, and that can hurt inside really bad. So, after carrying my creativity into more than a decade of ministry adventures with Mark, my mother died of a brain tumor and I realized that I did NOT have any intention of leaving my children as orphans, so I had to do SOMETHING about my weight problem. By the way, don’t bother asking, I did everything – over 20 different diets, exercise plans, gym memberships, medications, support groups, journaling, nutrition classes, fitness trainers, starving myself, video workouts and countless other pursuits.

One day, I walked into a counselors office and within two months was on a waiting list for Bariatric surgery. (That was almost 15 years ago now and I would not recommend it without serious medical oversight.)

Talking about “Life can change in an instant,” I used to be 320 pounds and wear a size 32 dress. Now I weigh about 195 pounds and wear a size 12. I lost all that weight in 9 months and have kept it off since then, most bariatric patients DO NOT. Weight loss is a lifelong battle and this blog is not the place for that right now.

What I do want to share is the HUGE difference in how I was treated as a thin person. People didn’t recognize me. My friends that loved me fat suddenly dropped me like a hot potato. People that had known me for years, and ignored me, suddenly included me in “the club.” I had waited and served and blessed these people with creative gifts for years, and NOW I was interesting enough to join the conversations? It was so hard to figure out who was real around me. I had to battle trusting people and … I had to figure out who this new person (me) was in this brave new world.

Stop Over-Giving Creatively

God had to teach me a huge lesson about my insecurity. He taught me that my “over-giving” creativity was no different than my overeating. Overeating filled the emptiness and now that was no longer an option. I had to deal with the emptiness, the rejection and the loneliness. Relationships take both parties, including you. When you feel good about who you are in God, with all your quirkiness and foibles, and know God loves HOW He created you to be, with all your talents and uniqueness, you can relax. Seriously! Just relax!

I am creative because I love to spend that time with the CREATOR. All my gifts are for serving Him and, like sowing seed, I don’t know which ones will sprout and which ones will die and which ones will feed someone else who is hungry for God. That is up to Him. I just need to be thankful and faithful and enjoy the journey. Whoever wants to join me can, and whoever wants to walk a different path is welcome to do so. I can appreciate their giftedness, their passions, their needs, without compromising my calling and pursuing my bliss. And, my bliss is my family… all around… smiling and growing and happy.

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