Godliness before Giftedness

 

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 :-)

godlinessbeforegiftedness

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.


Susie Leblond-6306Around 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.

 

12 thoughts on “Godliness before Giftedness

  1. A resounding cheer for this message, thoughtfully presented, which is extremely important in this me-first age of unfettered feminism. I struggled over these issues as a younger mother aware of my professional potential as a woman (I was 34 when I married), but more acutely because I could see God speaking through my art in ways not evident to me in other knowledge gained in my career. I desperately wanted to “grow my art.” Being led by God to places where employment opportunities were extremely sparse seemed to further limit my opportunities while my husband used his education to interact with his intellectual peers, even while working from our home in the country. I was jealous; but to expand such opportunities for myself would have meant spending far less time with and for our children. Then, the children developed more and more serious problems, which at first caused me to call into question our decisions because they forced me to keep parenting children who through illness became incapable of maturing normally. Years later down that very muddy road, I made discoveries that led me to a new understanding of how the ears control behaviour that is of inestimable importance to the entire world. (My husband’s turn to be jealous.) When I attended a conference last month that brought together experts worldwide who are researching music and medicine, I found my discoveries to be years in advance of virtually everyone else present. God had led me to knowledge on the cutting edge in a field for which most academics would not consider me qualified. But God qualified me, using every scrap of education and training, every partial insight and particle of pain and all of the willingness to learn that I could offer. Our marriage testifies to the reality of God who guides through mysterious earthly paths, a force in the universe beyond anything we could foresee or imagine. God not only bestows the gifts but nurtures them towards His purposes as long as we continue to give Jesus first place in our lives. No less spectacular than my discoveries is the patient, loving service of my godly husband, sustained by God’s grace, whose brilliant but poorly remunerated work has sustained all of us in this high calling and still does. Some of my discoveries: (1) the right ear drives the dominance of the left half of the brain in cerebral integration, thus all behaviour normal or aberrant derives from ear function/dysfunction; (2) amplified high-frequency music heals mental illness and many other conditions by strengthening the muscles of the middle ear, especially the right ear’s stapedius muscle that controls the passage of high-frequency sound through the ear towards the left brain; (3) psychoactive chemicals harm the ears thus causing worse forms of dysfunctional behaviour, including such events as the serial killings and mass murders that have become so common; (4) most behaviour we call “sinful” is the result of a failure of the left brain to gain dominance over the right brain; while such failure may be caused by a lack of teaching or fostered by overwhelming social problems, which are the main foci of Christian effort, it most frequently is caused by the physiological inability of the person to transmit sufficient sound energy through the right ear to the left brain. Treating the ears is easier and more effective for correcting their function than buying glasses for the eyes. How many more “impossible” problems might be solved by godly mothers’ prioritizing the needs of their children over their gifts?

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    • Thanks, Laurna for sharing your story. Your discoveries about hearing sound fascinating. I would love to know more! Do you have some links for me (and others) to read more?

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      • Thanks, Taryn. I apologize for taking up so much space, but it is very hard to be succinct about a discovery that covers so much ground. You can learn more about Daniel’s illness and recovery at my blog http://www.northernlightbooks.ca/MentalHealththroughMusic The problems we dealt with in our family included chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) from moderate to very severe, mild depression, substance abuse, and the range of mental conditions Dan passed through during a run-up to severe schizophrenia and during the recovery process: at least 3 levels of schizophrenia, bipolar I, bipolar II, depression, OCD, dyslexia, and fragile normal before reaching truly stable normal brain/ear function. In addition, I have done considerable research into related areas of behavioural and ear dysfunction. If you or someone you know is dealing with dyslexia, autism, depression (including suicidal depression), schizoaffective (mood) disorder, schizophrenia, or Alzheimer’s I can provide much more detailed counsel and references; email me at rtallman@xplornet.ca. Basic “texts” on the damage caused by psychoactive “medicines” include Robert Whitaker’s Mad in America and Anatomy of an epidemic and a research paper by Paul W. Andrews et al., “Primum non nocere: an evolutionary analysis of whether antidepressants do more harm than good,” Frontiers in Psychology 3:117. at http://www.frontiersin.org/Evolutionary_Psychology/10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00117/abstract and at Dr. Ann Tracy’s website http://www.ssristories.com/index.php. Strong evidence that homosexuality, Asperger’s, Alzheimer’s, and other behavioural disorders are ear-related can also be found in current literature (I can provide references) that becomes much clearer when you understand the neurology of my paradigm of right-ear-driven left cerebral dominance. I have four publications plus a chart available and I give lectures, workshops, and am available on Skype. Your interest makes my day!

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    • Hi Marlene,

      From my study and understanding of the concept of Godliness: I would say it is aiming at the characteristics of God within the realm that He prescribes for humans, most clearly explained through the mandate of the New Testament to be imitators of Christ. I don’t think it’s defined by any one action or area of life. For me, as a woman who struggled with conflicting messages about motherhood, it helped me to cut through the mess and get to the heart of the matter – my heart, to be precise. Today, I find myself having to ask the question about godliness before giftedness a lot – eg – am I choosing to accept this speaking engagement because I actually want to serve God or because it speaks to my ego to feel special to speak in front of a crowd? Usually it’s a bit a both, but asking the godliness question really helps to get to the heart of my heart. A long-winded reply to your question! Apologies. I hope it helps.

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  2. Thanks for this post; I appreciated it very much. I’m having some “sandwich generation” experiences right now with needs of children and aging parents pressing in on both sides. So my husband and I have been talking about priorities and limits and how to distinguish the primary things we are called to do from the things that we can (and might want to) do yet that might not be the best use of our time and resources at this moment. I appreciated that the speaker pointed out that the answer to these questions won’t be the same for every person, or for every stage of life.

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  3. “God has given the world millions of gifted Christian writers, authors, speakers, and leaders, but He has given these kids only one mom: me.”
    This is a precious quote, Taryn!
    I often fight the same battle. Being the mom that my kids need me to be has demanded great sacrifice and an ongoing fight for godly responses over sinful ones.

    In answer to the question posed by Marlene about defining godliness – it would be –

    “would this action glorify God in my life, and in my family’s life right now?’

    if it means I scream at the kids so I can get an hour or 2 of peace, or the kids get to watch a couple hours of mindless dvd’s so I can do something that “feels more satisfying” to me – the answer is no! Even though serving others thru my my work (in and out of the home) can be a good thing, if I sacrifice my godliness and don’t glorify the Lord in my speech, heart, thoughts and actions, it is not a good thing!

    If it means I can’t meet my husband’s needs with good grace and a willing heart, it is not a good thing. If I put my house keeping or my culinary skills ahead of my family’s needs, it is not a good thing in God’s eyes. If I deliberately choose a job or working hours that mean my family is miserable, it is not a good thing. Whether we work out of the home or at home, we need to check our heart. Being at home, choosing to be a stay-at-home mom if you have the choice does not make you more godly – it is the attitude of your heart. :-) Just in case you thought taryn was saying being a SAHM makes you more godly!

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  4. Hi Tracey
    Thanks for weighing in and for clarifying what might be mistaken for a specifically pro-mom-at-home stance. :-) Godliness before giftedness definitely applies to all areas of our lives. A Facebook friend commented on this post and said how much this spoke to the everyday decisions she makes. Her particular point was about sacrificing one’s kids’ growth in godliness in order to push / nurture their gifts. Ah! Yes. I can identify! :-) it’s definitely a life statement for me, as the struggle evidences itself on many aspects of my life!

    I do want to reiterate, however, that it’s not easily defined or determined. Each circumstance determines what godliness looks like in that case. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that the godly action will result in a happy family, a blessed life or a feeling of closeness to God.

    Last thought – many times some decisions are between two or more things that are not an issue of godliness or are not more godly than another. Rather than being paralysed with indecision, we can rejoice in the fact that we have the freedom to choose within God’s clearly-established, yet loose boundaries. Thank God that His will for our lives is not a tightrope walk of specific decisions, but rather a field of freedom with well-defined fences.

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