Pretty Little Gifts

Photo by Maria Orlova on

A merciful heart for all people.  Would give you the shirt off her back.  Capable leader.  Encouraging to others with an aura of peaceful acceptance.  Wise and patient teacher.  Meek and soft-spoken woman of God.


Skeptical.  Brazen.  A little too honest.  Calls individuals out on their wrongs.  Rude.  Blunt.  And permanently stamped by our society with the all-time, most misunderstood and infamous label – judgmental.

Argh. Yep.

The first time I heard about spiritual gifts when I was about twenty-six.  I had only been a Christian for about 4 years and was chomping at the bit to figure out what my spiritual gifts were. 

Aside from brown eyes, a love for all things ornithological, and a passion for crocheting, to think that God personally blessed me with a spiritual gift since birth was exhilarating. My one true calling was to be laced with a special gift to enhance my walk to glorify Jesus!

And then I took the test.

Discernment. With a small side of Craftsmanship and a spoonful of Faith.  I was puzzled.  Frustration set in.

And where was my “pretty” spiritual gift?

My waitressing days in college had prepared me to serve others hospitably with everything from enchiladas to spilt iced tea. Leading a small group of ladies or dogs was not a problem, and I received affirmation from others that I was capable. Giving gifts is my love language, hands down!

As my spiritual gift was unfolding in front of me, a wave of overwhelming dread mixed with fear swept over me with incredible force once I started researching a textbook description of spiritual discernment:

  • Distinguishing between spirits
  • Recognizing the motive behind circumstances
  • Immediately “knowing” whether a person’s true intention is good or bad

My fervor for sharing and growing this gift waned quickly, resulting in spiritually running the other direction, chasing what I thought to be more pleasing, socially admired gifts.  This lasted for fourteen years.

Right after I turned forty, I attended a women’s worship night at my church.  I sang, I praised, I laughed.  A lady who I held in high regard in our church who was leading the women’s worship night gently picked up the microphone and sweetly described the night’s subject we were about to discuss.

Spiritual Gifts.

My head irked.  I felt my eye twitch.  I thought surely my gift had changed because I had changed, knowing that I was not the same person I was the first time I took this test, so let’s go… but my gut was nagging me.

Fifteen minutes later, I sat and stared at the results of the “new” test, whose black and white words echoed a very familiar black and white answer.

Discernment again. 

Something told me I was not going to outrun my circumstances this time.

I couldn’t help feel a tiny wave of green-tinted disappointment wash over me as I quietly questioned, “Are you sure, Lord… Hospitality, Giving, Mercy… those all sound much nicer.”

I enjoyed discussing spiritual gifts with all kinds of people, and learning about the *sparkly* gifts that had not been in God’s design for me.  I couldn’t wrap my head around the feeling as if I were walking along a dry desert of inequity.

My focus broke as one of my friends beamed at her results, “Oh, WOW – I got Compassion!”  And it fits her.  She’s blonde, sweet, beautiful and always smiling.  Always.

Another lady across the room beamed, “I love this, it was spot ON.  Serving others is such a passion of mine!”  Okay, I don’t even know you, but can you get a sister a diet coke?  I’m negotiating with God over here.

But the hits kept fluttering around the room, ladies giggling and glowing excitedly at the “pretty” spiritual gifts their test results had revealed. 

To top it off, another friend of mine looked over my shoulder, smirked and said rather flatly, “Well look what you got.  Totally fits.”  She got Encouragement.  Interesting.

Before I could finish uttering a response, the merciful leader lady reached for the microphone again and flowed into a melodic series of instructions for each of us to divide into groups, according to our spiritual gift.  I stood up, grabbed my purse and moseyed over to my designated side of the sanctuary.

The “D-List” corner.

As I was finding my way amongst the Mercy girls, the Leadership ladies, and the gracious Givers, I cringed at the fact that I might be one of the lowly few women with the same, odd-girl-out gift.

I found a chair and settled into my station.  Another lady sat down.  And then a few more until there were about forty of us.  All different ages, different backgrounds and hair color.  My heart secretly lept – I was not alone!  For years, I thought I was isolated in every church I ever attended.  With this gift:  my spiritual discernment gift.

Before long the “D-Listers” were comparing stories:

  • Consistently described as blunt
  • Accused of being skeptical and rude
  • Unwavering distrust of certain individuals within seconds of meeting them
  • Carried a heightened sense of knowing when danger or foreboding evil was present
  • The first to sniff out a fake

God never makes mistakes.  I struggled for too many years with the notion that I was burdened with a spiritual gift that scared and intimidated me.  It also fascinated me and proved time and time again it saved my neck or someone else’s throughout my life. 

I didn’t think it was a pretty, more desirable gift.  Far from it.  It is a vital gift.  As is everyone’s gift.

Discerners are part of the church, the body of Christ, working alongside those whose blessed with Healing, Prophesy, Exhortation, together for the good of His kingdom.

A watchdog for false teachers and doctrine.

A blunt and skeptical watchdog.

I sipped my Diet Coke and smiled. I had a lot of work to do.

Photo by the happiest face =) on

First Timer

Children’s intuition.

Gut instinct.


The first time I had ever experienced what most would consider intuition was about the age of 7. My parents had informed my younger brother and me that we were expecting a special guest to stay the weekend at our house. One of my father’s mentors in college or his career.

My brother and I were good kids with an particular flair for pushing each other’s buttons, as siblings typically do – I scared him with ghost stories and would jump out from behind furniture to give him a fright. He chased me around the house with an E.T. finger and the more ghoulish-looking He-Man figures.

My mother had given us the head’s up about the visitor and that we were to be on our best behavior. Not a problem.

Suspicious individuals don’t always wear black.

Just before dinner, the doorbell rang. My brother and I fluttered behind our parents into the foyer, ready to politely greet our guest and introduce ourselves.

My father opened the door and welcomed the gentleman inside. He was an older man in his late 70’s, early 80’s, dressed in khaki pants and a white and blue striped button down shirt. Holding what appeared to be a suitcase in hand, the elderly man graciously stepped inside our home.

He politely greeted my mother, commenting on how lovely the house was, then turned to my brother and me, smiling kindly to introduce himself.

My little brother toddled up to the gentlemen calling him, “Paw-Paw,” since he resembled my grandfather with a full head of white hair and friendly smile.

For me, however, this was the first time I can recall where I could not figure out why I did not like an adult.

I was smiling, behaving kindly as my mother had taught me to do. But the top of my head tingled. My stomach hurt. I had no idea why this awful feeling was in my gut.

I swallowed hard and ignored it as my parents ushered the man into our home. My father gave him the tour of the house while my brother and I headed to the kitchen with my mother to prepare for our guest.

Mind your manners and set the table.

“I don’t like him,” I whispered to my mother as I clinked the silverware down on our large oak dining table.

“Shhh. He’s one of your father’s mentors and he’s a nice man. It will be ok,” she encouraged me. “Don’t forget the napkins.”

I don’t remember the dinner. In fact, I don’t remember much more until right before bedtime.

My brother and I had washed up, put our pajamas on, and came back downstairs to say goodnight to everyone before traipsing off to bed.

As my right foot stepped onto the tile in the foyer, I halted as I spied the elderly man again standing next to my parents, talking. My little brother not pausing from toddling down the stairs bumped into me and we stumbled into the room, looking up to meet the steady, comical gaze from the adults.

“Daddy, I don’t like him.” This time I said it more boldly.

The horrific look that spread upon my mother’s face could have stopped a freight train. In that instant I knew I was probably going to face a stern reprimanding before bedtime.

Tears did not sting my eyes. My eyes were locked on the elderly man, almost daring him to make a move. I knew better than to disobey my parents. I knew better than to talk rudely in front of an adult, especially a grandfatherly adult.

“It’s ok honey,” my father said kindly and started walking towards me to give me a reassuring side hug.

“No,” the strange man said carefully. “I think it is best if I stay at a motel.”


He disappeared to fetch his suitcase from the guest bedroom. My mother escorted us upstairs as I felt the heat from her disappointment blaze across the back of my neck.

Peace as a safety zone.

I don’t remember any lectures, fussing or correction as she tucked me into bed. All I remember was relief. So much relief that I could slip off to sleep without worry. Without trouble. Without fear.

My stomach did not hurt anymore. No more tingling. Peace had returned to our home.

Since that day, I have asked my parents exactly who was the man that came to visit. From my father’s recollection, the man was a prominant salesman starting a new business venture, and he was there to persuade my parents into becoming a part of it.

They did not remember him being intimidating, smarmy, or pushy. To this day, I do not know why I did not like him being in our house. I will probably never know exactly what it was about him that upset me.

But this was the first instance where I definitively felt in my whole little being that some people are not as pleasant, good or honest as they presented themselves to truly be.

This important lesson has come back time and time again when people or situations were more devious than what appeared on the surface.