What Are His Gifts?


Nearly two years ago, I was asked a simple question that has stuck with me to this day.

It was a busy week at the end of May in 2019. Overly booked schedules with so many fun end-of-the-year activities to check off the list before the freedom of summer began.

I was spending the evening volunteering at a dinner banquet at our church, serving those that help with the special needs ministry that has been a staple for our family.

After dinner, a woman with red curly hair, kind eyes, and an emerald green scarf that I secretly envied approached me. We exchanged the usual pleasantries. Being a mom of a child with special needs, autism typically gets brought up in conversation. It’s usually when talking about what grade my children are in because my son with autism attended full-time therapy in lieu of public school.

“Well, I have three kids, my oldest and youngest go to school but my middle son has autism and actually goes to an amazing therapy center full time right now.”

Now, this conversation usually goes a couple of different ways. Either the person will be uncomfortable or unsure what is appropriate to say or not say and will give me a quick nod with a high-pitched “Oh! Ok!”, or they will dive into questions. As far as I’m concerned, both reactions are natural and non-offensive. For the most part, I’m an open book. I don’t NEED to talk about autism if someone doesn’t have an interest or doesn’t know what to say, but I am forever an advocate and am always happy to answer questions for those who don’t have experience and want to know more. 

But this woman warmly smiled and responded in a way that took me completely by surprise. Without skipping a beat she asked, “What are his gifts?”

“His gifts?” I repeated, puzzled. “What do you mean?”

Was she implying he was a savant? I was confused. Typically, when discussing autism, it’s highlighting deficiencies, ways my son struggled. How severe is he? Can he talk? Will he ever be able to live alone/drive/have a job?

“His gifts, what are his gifts?” she repeated again. I couldn’t help but let out a nervous giggle because this time I was the one who didn’t know what to say. I was so used to talking about all of the ways my son differed from typical children, and usually not in a way that highlighted achievements. It took me a minute to understand what she was asking. “No one has ever asked me that before!” was all I could say.

“Everyone has gifts, dear!” she said gently. I took a breath, blinked back tears, and joyfully shared with her all of the things that were amazing about my son. He loves to swim and swing. He is the cuddliest child you will ever meet. He charms everyone who interacts with him. He has a brilliant memory. He is so resilient and strong.

She smiled and listened to me go on and on, bragging about him. We eventually parted ways, the dinner ended, and I have never seen her again. But her words will resonate with me forever. I’m so grateful for the brief conversation we had and the gift and life lesson this kind stranger taught me. What if we all looked at others through that lens? At ourselves?

Everyone has gifts.

In a world filled with social media that can fuel insecurities about relationships, weight, money, being “good enough”. In a world where it’s easy to make a quick negative comment or judgment. What if we focused on the gifts others have to offer? What if instead of thinking we aren’t good enough, smart enough, talented enough, we focused on our own gifts? What if we modeled that thinking for our children?

Don’t get me wrong. I had this conversation two years ago and still struggle. I’m a work in progress. But I try to remember what that short conversation, fueled by one simple question, did for my spirit. And I want to make others feel that way. And myself.

So, I turn the question to you. What are YOUR gifts? What about your spouse? Your children? The person in your life who is challenging you at the moment?

I’m trying to begin 2021 with that question in my heart. Because everyone has gifts.


  1. Sending big love and hugs from Miami, FL. This article tug at my heart and made me feel all the feels! Beautifully written and a wonderful reminder of just how special everyone is. Gifts before flaws, forever.

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