If you are/were anything like me, you might have found or even be finding yourself interested in a lot of various subjects and hobbies-- most of which you're good at. Some call this "dabbling." Maybe you're not amazing at them, but you're alright. And hey, you probably do them just because you like to do them. There's nothing wrong with doing different creative things because you enjoy them.
In my mid-twenties it felt like the people around me always had their "thing"-- you know, like they had always been really good at drawing or photography or fashion. They spent a lot of time doing their one or two activities and were super passionate about them.
But what about me? What about those of us that don't feel particularly drawn to just one or two things, but have the potential to be?
I really struggled to figure it out. I asked myself questions like, What things do I like more than others? What am I really passionate about?
The answers to these questions eventually came, and I will share with you exactly how later. But something that I didn't realize was that my identity was all screwed up, and I started to realize that my confusion in having so many interests was a manifestation of my identity crisis. It seemed that everyone around me was content with their gifts and knew what they were. Me? I was just scattered.
My real problem was that I spent all of this time evaluating myself based off of my surroundings (which are pretty much always fluid and changing) and the people around me who seemed valued because of what they could do. I wanted to feel valuable. I wanted to do something that made me feel valuable because it seemed that those who were doing were more valued, and because then... well... then I could have an identity. It became clear to me over time that if I wanted to know what things to really pour myself into, then I needed to figure out who I was, and none of us can figure out who we are until we understand our value apart from what we do and that our identity is not dependent on what we produce. Period.
In fact, I learned that it is our identity that gives us our value. If we don't let God give us our identity we will never rest in knowing that our identity automatically gives us our value, and we will chase finding our value in what we can produce. Then we will never know ourselves because we don't know God. If I don't think I am valued purely because of the identity that God has placed on me as one of his own, then what I actually believe about God is a lie. It means that I don't truly believe that God's love for me is unconditional and unchanging, and I don't believe that the love of the Creator bestowed on me through his unconditional grace makes me valuable. And if I don't believe that God's love and grace are unconditional and unchanging, then I believe that the Bible is a lie, and I don't truly believe that the sacrifice of Jesus was enough ("once and for all"). See, I knew all of these things, but there really is a huge difference between knowing and believing. Ultimately, these beliefs that I had unknowingly been holding onto demanded some severe repentance. (also see Rom. 8:38-39 (it's all right there))
This was the root of my problem. It's something I still have to remind myself to choose to believe daily. Only then could I find and appreciate for myself my practical gifts.
So how did I decide what interests to seriously pursue and which ones to lay aside as hobbies?
The thought occurred to me one day: Why don't I ask the people who have been in my inner circle what they think? Now, I'm not necessarily advocating that we should only do what other people think we should. No. But I value the input of those who are or have been closest to me.
I created a list of those inner circle people that I have had throughout my lifetime and composed a letter to them. I asked them to take time and consider my practical giftings. Were there things that I was pursuing that I'm not actually that good at? Were there things that I wasn't pursuing that I should be? What things was I doing that I should keep at and grow in?
I asked them to respond separately because I wanted to see what things they were saying that were common between them. What gifts popped up multiple times? Those things are the ones I would pray over as being the one(s) that I took seriously. The others I would just accept as hobbies. As it happened, the same three things popped up as my gifts in the nine responses to the twelve I asked.
There has been so much peace that has come since then. And so much assurance. I love what I'm pursuing with passion, and I love that I can now focus on three instead of on, say, ten.
I hope this can give you some things to think on, to pray about and to be encouraged by. I would love to know your journey into finding your gifts and what you've discovered they are.