Wrapped up in self-pity and tied up with jealousy, I almost overlooked the gifts God had given me.
Pink has always been my favorite color, so when I first saw the gift under the Christmas tree, I naturally assumed it was mine. The coat-size box was beautiful; silver glitter formed stars against the pink background and twinkled, reflecting the colored lights.
I rushed to the package, but my heart sank as I read the tag: “Merry Christmas, Jill.” My older sister always got everything I wanted—now the pink package, too.
In fact, Jill seemed to have every gift I wanted—from her innate ability to play the piano to her generous spirit. Jill’s talents gave me goosebumps, just like the pink package.
Many years before, after seeing my self-confidence deflate with every attempt at music, my mother had encouraged me to seek something in which I could excel. But even if I became the best rope-jumper in town, I still would not be able to give people goosebumps the way Jill could with her music. I couldn’t understand why Heavenly Father hadn’t given me any talents.
My discouragement worsened through high school as I unsuccessfully tried out for cheerleader, for tennis, for the school play, for dance club, and for class officer. Halfway through my sophomore year, I became so depressed I found it hard to concentrate in class or seminary.
Early one morning, as I stared aimlessly out the window at the ski team boarding a bus, my seminary teacher called on me. “Sister Mecham,” she said, “would you please read that scripture for us?”
“Where was it again?” I asked, trying to act as if I had been paying attention.
As the words fell from my mouth I envisioned Moroni sitting next to me telling me himself: “Deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them. …
“And all these gifts come by the Spirit of Christ; and they come unto every man severally, according as he will.”
Suddenly I realized that Heavenly Father had given me gifts, both spiritual and temporal. I just hadn’t looked hard enough to find them. It seemed apparent that he had bestowed upon me the talents I needed the most and those with which I could ultimately do the most good. And best of all, I knew his gifts were given with love.
I rushed to school with a newfound determination—I would find the gifts Heavenly Father had given me.
That morning I picked up my school newspaper and realized writing for it was one extracurricular activity I had not yet tried. I stopped in at the newspaper office and signed up for my first assignment. I learned I had a knack for research, organization, and writing—traits that helped the next year when the adviser asked me to edit the same school paper.
Though Jill has, in my opinion, more visible talents, I feel just as blessed. Heavenly Father has given me the gifts I need the most. My writing ability has helped me through many situations where music couldn’t. And I should have known my mom wouldn’t let me down. She also seems to know my needs better than my wants.
Christmas morning finally arrived and I watched Jill open the beautiful, pink package. As she held her new coat I knew it was made for her.
Then my mother handed me a smaller gift marked “Merry Christmas, Annette.” Although its outward appearance was not as enticing as the pink package, its contents were chosen just for me. As I slipped the pink sweater over the top of my pajamas, I looked at my reflection in the mirror and felt goosebumps. It was my color and size, but more than that, I had learned the importance of gifts given with love.