Elisabeth Elliot: Wife of Jim Elliot, missionary in South America, killed while trying to bring the Gospel to an unreached people group; Mother of only child, Valerie; Married three times; Widowed twice; One of my mother's favorite people.
I used to make fun of my mother listening to Elisabeth Elliot every day on the radio. I looked up her old saying "'You are loved with an everlasting love,' - that's what the Bible says - 'and underneath are the everlasting arms.' This is your friend, Elisabeth Elliot..." My mother turned on the radio twice every day growing up. Once was for the daily Bible reading and once was for Elisabeth. She often started many words of advice (unsolicited of course), "Well Elisabeth Elliot always says..." The conversation always ended with me rolling my eyes, groaning and walking away.
Fast forward 20 years or so; lots has happened since then. The first being I'm a new creation in Christ, the rest are just details. I am now reading Let Me Be A Woman by Elisabeth Elliot. It's a small book full of many chapters, which makes it really easy to put beside your bed and read before dozing off. She wrote the book for her daughter Valerie. I'm not sure if it was a series of letters through the years or just something she sat down and wrote.
I was reading recently about how Elisabeth was single for many years. Valerie was already married when she wrote this but she was saying that she didn't know it then but she had the gift of singleness during that time. I always have struggled when people ask if they think someone has the gift of singleness. 9 out of 10 times the person desires to be married and perhaps one day have children; they just haven't met anyone worth doing that with. So the simple answer would be no.
But Elisabeth described it in a way I've never thought of before. When you are given a gift from God, it's not something you choose for yourself. God gives them. He gives the gift of Salvation, we don't deserve it and can never pay Him back. He gives the gift of talents, we can't go from being tone deaf to singing beautifully by skill alone. He gives gifts and singleness might be one of them. It's not necessarily a permanent gift but if it's where God has you now, then it's a gift He has given not a cross you bear, as we love to say.
I have been meditating on this for awhile now. Seeing how this looks in my life. Obviously I don't have the gift of singleness but I do have the gift of infertility. Ha! That sounds like an oxymoron but think about it. God has allowed Martin and I not to have children for eight years. It's not something that we chose. It's not something I necessarily want or like but it's obviously from God and because of that it's a gift. I say it's a gift not a cross I have to bear because in the midst of not having children Martin and I get to be an uncle and aunt to SO many! Not only to my brothers and sister's kids but to many here in New Jersey. We love it.
I'm also thankful for the gift because it's made us see our God as so much bigger. Now when I think of my future children I don't just think of little black haired, blue eyed babies running around (a good mix of Martin and I) but maybe African babies or Asian babies or maybe just children and no babies. And this isn't just another option for us. We truly see it as where God wanted us all along.
So, as much as I hated my mother quoting good ol' Elisabeth Elliot, I am very thankful for her wisdom on the subject of gifts. Whether it's the gift of singleness, infertility, motherhood, empty nest, poorness, uncertain future or where ever we all are - we must remember that we don't pick our gifts, God gives them and He knows what's best and it may not be for forever, but only for a season.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17
Thanks Elisabeth. Thanks Mother.