My friend Tim dropped heavily into the chair across from me. Something was wrong.
I took a sip of coffee. “What’s up?”
Tim shook his head. “There’s been over seventy mass murders since the beginning of this year.” He swallowed hard. “It’s overwhelming.
Tim’s a counselor who works with troubled high school students. The recent mass murder in Michigan hit too close to home.
“I want the government to do something. I want our politicians to wake up and solve this. ”
“Tim,” I said, “you have years of experience working with troubled students. What do you think could be done to alleviate the mental health issues that plague these young shooters?”
Tim paused. His eyes lifted upwards. A glimpse of hope splashed across his face.
“I’ve actually given that question a lot of thought—especially at three a.m. when I can’t sleep.”
I raised an eyebrow to urge him to continue.
“I’d teach students to build four life-skills and strengths: self-worth, positive self-talk, setting healthy boundaries, and learning to be vulnerable. These qualities seem to be the ones most of us—especially young adults—lack. If we could gain these inner strengths, perhaps we could prevent many of the mental health breakdowns people face.”
With a renewed spirit, he quoted the words of Mother Teresa: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
I’m not sure what Tim will do with his light-bulb moment. I only know that when we dig deep to discover our spiritual gifts and ask how we might use them in life-giving ways, we respond to the world’s violence and evil as beacons of light. We become part of the solution.
God gives each person several unique talents that let us make the world a better place. When we share our spiritual gifts with others, we become fully alive. We experience joy. Purpose. Fulfillment. We co-create with God, bringing Divine love and compassion into the universe.
Many of us go through life without knowing our spiritual gifts. Without a sense of direction, we get overwhelmed and frozen by life’s complexity.
But, like Tim, when we discern our unique talents, they become an inner compass. With God’s grace, they guide us toward what we’re being invited to do in each season of our lives.
No one can erase the pain families experience when they lose loved ones through senseless acts of violence. But rather than letting evil win, we can dig deep, discover our gifts, and respond with acts of great love.
Consider taking these action steps as your response to the world’s violence:
Take a spiritual gifts inventory
There’s a free one on my website: Spiritual Gifts Inventory. Download it. Take it. Discover your top gifts. What makes you come alive?
Determine how the Creator is inviting you to use your gifts.
Set out into the world and make it a better place.
As scripture says, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).
The world needs you to use your gifts. When you do, you may very well experience joy.
And joy matters.
—brian j plachta
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