As my husband and I raised our three children, he worked part-time while keeping the house and family organized, and I was the main breadwinner. We often said, “We are each doing what we are best at,” that is, using our gifts.
Over the years, I’ve learned the importance of learning what our gifts are and using them. Sometimes this means working against societal norms or struggling to see how our gifts apply during certain stages of life.
Our gifts and gender roles
I think many of us have had the experience of feeling boxed in when we have to stifle our gifts. For me, this feeling was sometimes around gender roles.
Growing up, loving people occasionally conveyed the message that the male is the boss. When I was 7 years old and babysitting my 4-year-old brother while he adventured around our large farm, my dad said, “Laura, you should let your brother be the boss.”
Other times my dad shared messages of empowerment and possibility with me. I know he was trying to coach me on the ways of the world when it came to gender roles. Perhaps fortunately, I had no idea how to implement that coaching!
Our gifts in stages of life
As I think about using our gifts, I’m reminded of an observation from Ruth Hayden, who uses a behavioral approach to helping people break old money habits to achieve satisfaction. Ruth has observed that the people who are the happiest are those who “jump into their current stage of life.”
This can apply to every stage of life: From newly single to newly in love. From a demanding work life to retirement. From raising kids to being an empty nester. It even applies during the very hard times of processing and healing from the loss of a loved one or a divorce.
I also think of a client who lost her husband and then moved into assisted living. As she told me about the people she was meeting, she shared, “We never stop needing to make new friends.”
Our gifts in times of struggle
I lost my dear sister, Sue, in a car accident many years ago. A few months later, I was pregnant with my first child, but still grieving deeply. My mother, who was so hurt by the loss of my sister said to me, “Laura, this is supposed to be time of happiness for you, of looking forward. Don’t let your grief take that away.”
Her words helped. I needed to focus on the gift of motherhood as well as my excitement over my career as a young professional woman rather than focusing on my grief.
Freedom and joy in using our gifts
Sometimes we struggle to use our gifts. Perhaps it’s because of burdens we are carrying. Perhaps it’s because of our own expectations or our perceived expectations of others.
But I believe there is such freedom and joy in using our own personal gifts, including our financial gifts.
Over the years, I have had the honor of sharing in many clients’ pleasure as you use your financial, personal, or professional gifts to live the life that you prefer. I delight in hearing of the progress on a much-desired home remodel or the happiness of a family wedding, seeing the pictures of travel and adventures, and meeting a new puppy via Zoom. I am so pleased to be with you on the journey as you use your gifts.