By Tracey Jacobsen
I was first introduced to Called and Gifted about four years ago. I had signed up to take the sessions at St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport. I went to the first few meetings, took my inventory, and then stopped attending. I told myself that I was too busy to go to the sessions.
Over the next several years, I became involved in a variety of ministries and events at St. Paul’s. I would be at church so much that some people asked if I had a room there to sleep in. Eventually, I knew that I was getting “burned out.” I was afraid to say “no” to anyone who enlisted my help because I thought they were asking me to do these things because God was calling me. I reached the point at the beginning of this year that I couldn’t continue on this road. I wasn’t getting the fulfillment that I originally had from doing some of these ministries. I didn’t feel I was being effective with some of these ministries, either.
Then this spring, through the nudging of the Holy Spirit, I read the article about Called and Gifted in The Catholic Messenger. It was laid on my heart that I needed to finish the program. I took my inventory again and nothing was a huge surprise to me, or so it seemed. The charism (or spiritual gift) that had the highest score was knowledge. I immediately thought, “That is so true.” I had spent the last five years taking Ministry Formation Program (MFP) classes through the Diocese of Davenport. I also love to read books on the Catholic faith. The problem was that I had focused on outside knowledge, such as what I had been learning in MFP and reading about in books, rather than self-knowledge. As I had my interview and progressed through the rest of the Called and Gifted program, I learned a lot about myself. I had grown up without much affirmation and affection. I had hidden my true self and built up walls around me. I didn’t know who I truly was. I thought I had to please everyone.
Through the help of the Called and Gifted program, I have received a lot of healing and affirmation and have developed greater self-awareness. I have allowed myself to become vulnerable, which has helped me to heal and be able to hear God more clearly. I know what my charisms are. I am open to exploring the ways to use these charisms. I know that I am a beloved, chosen, special daughter of God. I am individually designed for a purpose. I know that God has a plan for me that will help me to use the charism of knowledge as well as some of my others charisms, such as service, teaching and encouragement. I continue to pray and discern how God is calling me to use my gifts. I am more open to the Holy Spirit and the nudges that I receive. I am also learning to discern what God wants me to do instead of saying “yes” to everything. It is a much better use of my time and gifts. I also don’t have the “burned-out” feeling that I once had. I get affirmed and am more effective in the ministries that I am doing now. I truly feel more fulfilled. I am joyful, energized and excited as well as open to what path God is leading me on.
Looking back to when I first started Called and Gifted, I realized that I was not ready to complete it at that time. God wanted me to start healing before I would be able to finish.
(Tracey Jacobsen is a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish, Davenport and the spouse of Deacon Candidate John Jacobsen.)
(For information about beginning a Called and Gifted program in your parish, please contact Nikki Gartner at jngartner@ aol.com or call (563) 370-3360.)