Giving Your ‘Gifts’ Away can Help Define Your Purpose
It’s been a year and a half since I anchored a newscast at 12 News (KPNX-TV, NBC) in Phoenix, and people still ask if I miss it. Each time, I search my heart, waiting for a little twinge … but it’s just not there. I love where I am now, as director of community engagement for Hospice of the Valley in Phoenix, just as I loved 34 the years I spent in the broadcast news business.
I never dreamed my love of writing would land me in front of a camera next to famous and powerful people, telling tragic and magical stories, interviewing heroes and villains. There’s an adrenaline rush when big news breaks, and there’s the satisfaction of knowing you got it all right at the end of a long day. Over the years, I was humbled by brave and selfless people, inspired by those who refused to give up, and enlightened by viewpoints that were so different from my own. I wouldn’t have traded a moment of that glorious career, reporting alongside some of the best journalists in Arizona, who still feel like family to me.
But ask any woman who works the night shift in a newsroom, and she’ll tell you what a challenge it is. Being out of sync with your family makes you feel a little guilty, a lot harried, and constantly pressured to carve out quality time. Juggling career and family is something we all do, but there came a time when something in my heart shifted. My boys had four more years at home before they left for college, and I knew time would fly.
This bible verse kept playing in my head: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose.” It was a new season, and I figured it was time for me to find a new purpose. Time to give someone else a turn in the anchor chair and for me to take my career in a different direction. Time to use all the gifts God gave me, ones that I maybe hadn’t even discovered yet.
It’s liberating to watch yourself stretch to find your true path in life. Thankfully, I found it in my role as director of community engagement for Hospice of the Valley. Unfortunately, living and breathing disturbing headlines 24/7 can make you close off part of yourself. Sometimes I wasn’t very good at hiding what I was feeling as I reported a story, but nowadays, I don’t have to tuck my emotions away. My new job allows me to gush with joy or sob in sympathy, and no one thinks anything of it. Being in touch with your heart is essential to my new career in hospice care.
To be perfectly honest, there’s so much more to life than being “that lady who used to do the news.” There are so many more chapters ahead, and who else but me can write them? I want every page to be meaningful to me.
The only way to accomplish this career alignment is to use your gifts. We all have them, even if we don’t realize it. And not one of us has exactly the same ones. Some sing; some dance. Others are great in business or sales. Your friends may be amazing teachers, or artists, or athletes. Even people who claim to have no talent to speak of have gifts. We all know someone who is keenly perceptive, empathetic, funny, patient, or kind. Someone who is wonderful with children or animals and who is unfailingly cheerful. He or she loves to help people, is reliable, loyal, trusting, or faithful.
But it’s not enough to have gifts or to even recognize and appreciate that you have them. You not only have to use them, but you have to freely give them away, or they’re wasted. We have to serve others with these gifts. I feel so blessed every day to go to a job that lets me do just that: Serve others. Who needs tenderness more than people who are preparing for the end of their lives? Hospice of the Valley was there for my father-in-law when he passed away in 2003, and I will never, ever forget the beautiful care our family received. It’s truly an honor to now help other families experience that same compassion.
Lin Sue Cooney is director of community engagement for Hospice of the Valley in Phoenix.