Ummmm……… NO!! First of all, I had to sneak out the house at 3am and drive in fear through da hood to the mall, then I waited in that long Target line OUTSIDE the store at 4am, and then a couple of other long lines inside the store. I had to fight with a couple of people and had to pay too much money, even with the discounts, plus I was sucked in to buying some other stuff that I hadn’t intended on buying (I couldn’t resist). So I don’t think I’ll be giving away any of my gifts, boo. Hold up sweetness! I’m not talking about your material gifts. I’m talking about your spiritual gifts! Your talents! Those gifts that God has blessed you with are meant to be given away, so that you can be a blessing to others around you who unknowingly are in need of your gifts. So what are your gifts? Your skills at writing, your ways with words, your ability to turn a phrase, your expressiveness with paper and pen (or blog). Your good writing is a gift from God, and wouldn’t it be useless if you didn’t write so the world could read ? So you have to share your gift! Your acting ability! You can bring that character to life! People forget you’re not the character you’re playing because you’re so good! You may not be in Hollywood, but you’re seeking FAME! You want to live forever and we want to watch you achieve it! It wouldn’t be so cool if you refused to act unless you could make it to the top first. We want to see you in those off, off, off Broadway plays and those school productions and those church productions and those community center productions!! Your teaching ability. Your comedic ability. Your dancing ability. Your gift for encouragement. Sometimes, it’s not about entertainment, but about relationships. Are you good at encouraging someone who may be feeling a little blue? Do you have a knack for knowing just what to say to uplift someone’s sagging spirits? Well dont hesitate to do so! In fact seek out those who may need your beautiful encouraging spirit! Personally, I love encouraging people to see themselves in their best light. Probably because there was a time not too long ago when I felt discouraged about myself as a human being. I felt generally unworthy, to be blunt. I didn’t know my value in God. He is the One who gives us our value and no one on this earth can devalue us, no matter what they try to do, IF we continue to believe in our hearts that we are valuable. Nelson Mandela comes to my mind as a perfect example of someone who knew his value. Can you imagine him seeing himself as a worthless fellow because of what apartheid did to him? I especially like talking to my black people about our good traits and accomplishments as a way to encourage us not to let racism and all of that get into our spirits and destroy us. Too many brothers and sisters are defining themselves based on what is being said about us on CNN or MSNBC. Of course those brothers and sisters come away disillusioned about their blackness the majority of the time. My strong desire to talk and teach about our black culture and accomplishments across the Diaspora is my God given gift! I finally believe that, because before I thought I was just a racist or racialist or whatever. NO, I’m just a pro-black woman trying to recruit more blacks to being pro-black!! Which is NOT anti-anything! If I told you I liked peanut butter sandwiches, you wouldn’t assume that I hate all other sandwiches, would you? So do you know what your gifts are? If you feel confused about it, sit down and think about what you enjoy doing. Then just go online and do a little research of the things you know you like doing, and you will find some clues that you can work with. It’s a worthy exercise for the year 2011 to get in touch with yourself if you aren’t already. For those of you who know all about yourselves and your gifts, are you giving your gifts away? Let me tell you a little story. At my church there is this brother who I sit next to most of the time. He has a beautiful emotive, expressive singing voice—he knows how to put someting extra in his phrasing of the hymns and songs we sing in the church. He puts an interesting soulful spin on the notes that’s completely unique. He reminds me all at once of singers like Al Green for his perfect pitch, Teddy Pendegrass for his soulful growl, and Luther Vandross for his vocal dexterity—think of how Luther did that thing with the woo woo woo woo! It’s not that this brother sounds like all three of these famous singers, but he has something that just bring them to mind. I have never heard anyone sound like this brother does. But he won’t join the choir. He fears the responsibility–being pulled away from football games, or whatever else he would be doing at home after 8am service. Yet and still, he watches in rapt attention, sometimes with his mouth agape as a soloist in the choir tears the church up with his or her singing ability. He watches and shouts as they give away their gifts and bless the church Sunday after Sunday—and he is blessed as well, and sometimes tears fall down his cheeks and he gets choked up—having been blessed by God through that particular singer. I alway peek over at him to watch his reaction. He doesn’t notice me doing so because he’s too focused on the choir. I nudge him from time to time (I don’t want to be obnoxious about it) that he ought to be up there singing himself. Whenever I do, from his seat next to me, he will start singing just a bit louder and allow his talents to sparkle for a moment. His is like a light being hid under a bushel. The thing is, he’s only sitting next to me and someone on his other side and the pew behind him and in front of him. These are the only folks who get to experience his gift from God, his talent, and in a distracted way because they aren’t really focused on him. He is selfishly holding on to his God given gift, so he’s able to go home after 8am service to prepare for the Oakland Raiders or whomever. I often wonder if I should push him a little harder to go up there and join the choir. Imagine if Michael Jackson or Teena Marie decided NOT to sing! I know I would feel bad somewhere in my spirit, not even knowing why, but knowing something is missing from the world. So again I ask if you are giving away your God given gifts. They are meant to be shared you know. You shouldn’t let fear or shyness or selfishness keep you from expressing yourself in the way God has gifted you. So for this new year, why not get up and discover your gifts, develop your gifts and share your gifts?