The very first time I met Taryn Hayes, I was impressed. 16 years and 10,000 miles later, my first impression remains unchanged: she’s a loyal friend, a committed Christian, a homeschooling mom of 4, a thoughtful reader and (also) a fantastic writer… as you’re about to discover with her Words That Changed my World post :-)
The atmosphere was thick with anticipation. I shifted in my seat. My discomfort moved from my 8-month pregnant belly to my beating heart. I held my breath and wondered, what would she say?
It was 2002. I was sitting in a crowded auditorium of women. Lesley Ramsay, an evangelist and teacher from Australia, spoke strongly to the women present, encouraging us to embrace the influence we have as wives, mothers, sisters, daughters… women. She spoke about the value of being a present, intentional mother. She encouraged us to consider the seasons of our lives and to employ wisdom in our decisions. Be home with your children if you can, she said. Rubbing the mound that had been my companion for 8 months, I thought of all I had heard about the realities of being a young mother. Mixed in with the joy of brand-new motherhood, they warned, was the mindlessness of changing diapers; inconsolable babies; and padding around in a sleep-deprived haze at noon.
My thoughts were interrupted: it was Q&A time and standing in the crowd was a woman, bold and indignant. She said, “I am a wife, a mother, a student and I have a full-time job. I am able to do all these things just fine. I am studying further in law because it is my gift. I believe that I will be a better wife and mother and person because of it. Why would God gift me with the talents that I have only to expect me to stay at home and not use them?”
As if in unison, the auditorium of women turned to look at Lesley, standing alone and challenged on the stage. What would she say?
With grace and love radiating from her face, she spoke three words.
“Godliness before giftedness.”
She smiled kindly at the woman and explained, her words painting a picture that said:
Godliness comes before giftedness. Yes, God gifts us, but if our gifts cause us to make decisions that compromise our godliness, then we need to put our godliness first. That looks different from person to person. Sometimes working outside of the home is the right choice. But only you can know that. We each have to look at our own situation and ask, truthfully, “Does this decision help or hinder my godliness?”
I left the auditorium that day with a nugget of truth tucked away in my heart. It’s been 12 years since and yet, still, I find myself returning to Lesley’s words – godliness before giftedness – every time I find myself hankering after kid-free days for uninterrupted writing time to finish my second novel; every time I am flattered by the words of strangers and find my pride taking root; every time I am tempted to put my gifts, my desires, myself above the desires of God’s heart, I am reminded. Godliness before giftedness. Godliness before satisfying my desire to enjoy the fruit of my gifts, selfishly. Godlinessness.
And, when I am tempted to couch my desires in churchy language – the kind that says, “But it’s good for the gospel!” or “God laid this on my heart! I prayed about it!” – I am reminded of the truth each and every time I gaze upon the tousled heads of my sleeping children. God has given the world millions of gifted Christian writers, authors, speakers, and leaders, but He has given these kids only one mom: me.
And, while He has afforded me time and opportunities to serve Him in my writing, I am infinitely aware that godliness in this season of raising little people into adulthood means I get to be there for them. Intentionally and sacrificially. Even if it means setting aside some of my gifts for a while.
Around the Internet, Taryn Hayes is a blogger, writer and author of the Christian youth novel, Seekers of the Lost Boy. But, in real life, she is mostly wife to Craig, the love of her youth, and mom to four incredible kids who continue to amaze and challenge her. Taryn is still very much on the learning curve of recognising godliness above giftedness in her own life, but is so very grateful to God for His grace on the journey. You can find her on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.