By Janene Misak
Last fall, I decided to take the “Called and Gifted” class. I had recently retired and it seemed like an opportunity to explore how God might want me to use my free time. Participating in the class was one of the best decisions that I have made in a long time to help me grow in my faith.
The class sessions and group discussions helped me to develop a new appreciation for the body of Christ. We are frequently told that we are God’s hands and feet in this world. In talking with other participants, however, I became aware of the diversity of charisms (gifts) we have been given and how God uses our gifts to accomplish his works in the world.
Listening to my tablemates talk about the charisms they were discerning was fascinating because their gifts often seemed so different and unfamiliar to my personal experience. Although each of us came seeking to learn more about the charisms we were given through our baptism, our perspectives were unique to each of us. Even those who had discerned they had the same charism often carried out their service to God in their individualistic style.
Through class discussions and the interview, I discerned the charism of encouragement. It has opened my eyes to many opportunities that God places in my path every day to help others. The class helped me learn to be aware of God’s nudges to offer a kind word, spend some extra time or send someone a quick note. It has changed the way I see God’s role in my life and how he is using me in the world.
Each morning I offer a quick prayer asking God to make me a blessing to someone. I wish I could say that I am always comfortable with where that leads me, but it wouldn’t be true. Often, instead of just saying a quick prayer for someone, I feel called to do more. Whether it’s helping plan a fundraiser, writing a note to a dying friend or baking a treat to share, I spend much less time than I used to worrying how others might interpret my actions. I trust that if God has led me to it, it will be used for his good.
“Called and Gifted” offers an opportunity for each adult Catholic to explore the charisms they have been given and how God might be calling them to use those gifts. Often, it seems that our spiritual growth stops shortly after confirmation. I felt “Called and Gifted” helped me jump start that growth, trust in God and to share his love with others.
(Janene Misak is a longtime parishioner at St. John Vianney Parish, Bettendorf.)