1 Kings 17:7-16
All it takes is music to get my 2-year-old grandson dancing with abandon, swaying, swirling, putting his arms in the air, and moving his body every which way. He reminds me of his father (my son) at the same age. He loved nothing more than to shimmy, bounce, and dance to music.
It’s a different story for my son now. Other than doing the obligatory dances at his wedding, he refuses to even approach a dance floor. What happened? Somewhere along the way, he became convinced that he could not dance, that he risked making a fool of himself if he even tried. It saddens me to see such innate ability drummed out of him. He has, in effect, put his light under a bushel basket. Unfortunately, he is the rule rather than the exception.
How many of our innate God-given gifts suffer the same fate? I look around the pews at Mass and see people whose voice is stifled by their belief that they cannot sing. Others refuse to lead a ministry or even volunteer out of fear of failure or their certainty that someone else would do it better. Everywhere I look, people are afraid to risk, afraid to try, afraid to discover and use the gifts they’ve been given. Imagine what our church would look like if we all quit hiding our lights under bushel baskets and instead dared to push the boundaries and become the fullness of who God created us to be!
Of course, it’s much easier to make such comments about others than to turn the spotlight inward and examine myself. How many of my own gifts have I hidden? In what ways have I allowed society as a whole, my family members, or my own insecurities to stifle my willingness to try or keep me from even being aware of what I can do? Perhaps more importantly, is God calling me to minister in new ways and I am blind to that call because I have hidden too many lights?
I remember, for instance, when my husband died. There were so many things I didn’t know how to do and was convinced I could not do. Out of necessity, I had to try. Lo and behold, I discovered talents I didn’t know I had and strength I didn’t know existed. God used me in unexpected ways, and I grew and stretched beyond what I thought was possible. I bet God has given me other gifts, talents, and strengths that I haven’t even touched yet. Does it require a tragedy that knocks out all my defenses before I will allow God to show them to me?
Perhaps we all need to take the phrase "Oh, I could never do that" out of our lexicon. Perhaps even if we can’t remove the bushel basket altogether yet, we can lift it at least enough to look under it ourselves, so that in cooperation with the grace of God, we can discover what is hidden underneath. The light is there. We need only to let it shine.
Amy Florian is a teacher and consultant working in Chicago. For many years she has partnered with the Passionists. Visit Amy’s website: http://www.amyflorian.com/.