I had a wonderful opportunity to attend the Called and Gifted Workshop this weekend, which is put on by the Catherine of Siena Institute. I didn't think going was even a possibility, so I never mentioned it to my husband... however, God worked through some friends in a very obvious way, and lo and behold, I found myself away from the house all last night and most of the day today! (what a luxury!)
The workshop is basically "step one" in discerning what one's charisms might be. Now, I have taken many "gifts of the Spirit" tests before, but they just never... well... never clicked, for want of a better word. The results never seemed to match up with what I saw in my own life, and I just pushed them aside. This particular test, however, is geared especially for Catholics, and for whatever reason this one "clicked."
The speakers spent quite a bit of time explaining the difference between a natural talent and a specific charism given to a person at baptism. Charisms are meant to bless others... to build up the Body of Christ... and therefore will be something that others have noticed in you. Talents can do that as well, of course, but charisms carry with them the power of the Holy Spirit, and therefore will be used to reach others in a powerful way that is over and above what "natural efforts" would have accomplished. For example, one may have developed a talent for teaching, but someone blessed with the charism of teaching will be able to accomplish much more... with less effort... simply because it is the conduit that God has chosen for that particular person to accomplish His will in the world.
What I found so intriguing... or actually funny... is that the particular charisms that I scored the highest on are the ones that have thrown me into a tailspin lately. I've been doing a lot of "soul searching," and wondering if a certain direction I was taking was a big waste of time. If these are, in fact, my charisms, then the answer is "no."
Of course, taking one test is not the final answer. There is still a process of discerning to go through, but I am encouraged... truly encouraged!... that God used this weekend to show me that this isn't just some weird part of my personality that I need to squelch and move away from. If these are my charisms, AND if I cooperate with Him, He can actually use this to reach other people.