I’ve been thinking about what we’re born to do. I just finished a book called Graceling (pub. 2008) by first-time novelist Kristin Cashore. Ruby picked it out for me. I would have walked on by and picked up another mystery of some kind. I loved it. This fantasy is set in a land of 7 kingdoms. The kingdoms, for the most part, fight and war constantly, never forming lasting alliances. Born among these people, Gracelings come along. A Graceling is someone who has a certain “grace” or innate ability to do something, far above what’s considered normal. Every Graceling reveals their status by age 5 or so, because their eyes turn different colors from each other. Our heroine, Katsa, has one blue and one green eye. Once a Graceling shows him or herself, they are shipped off to the king first to see if they can be of service.
Of course, the king can’t use most kids’ abilities. The king doesn’t find holding one’s breath for a long time particularly useful, nor excellent swimming. Once a child’s grace reveals itself and deemed worthless to the king, he sends the children home. But they never quite fit anywhere; the regular people shun them, for the most part. Extraordinary powers frighten others. This is the norm in every kingdom but one: Leonid. There those graced receive honor and special treatment.
The plot captured my interest right away. Katsa discovers at age 8 that she can kill, quite by accident. As a niece of the king, she becomes his special enforcer, trained to fight and to torture and kill if necessary. She doesn’t like this but feels trapped by her powerless position and her particular ability. Nearly friendless and an orphan, she forms a special Robin Hood type of council to start taking care of the other kingdoms problems, all in secret.
What attracted me was the concept of having a certain type of grace. Because we all have something we excel at, right? It may take some practice and training to get our facility to a place of expertise, but our skill has a sense of God-breathedness to it. It isn’t like anyone else and we know it didn’t come from us.
As the book moves along, Katsa realizes her grace isn’t killing as she’d thought. It’s something much more valuable and helpful. It made me think how many times we let early experiences shape our thoughts about ourselves. “I’m just a shy person” or “I’ll always like books more than people”. “I’m not made that way.”
In God’s economy, all our graces service a purpose and have worth. He won’t ever reject our abilities because He gave them to us. Yet maybe our graces evolve all the time. Can they stretch and bend in order to serve others and God’s plan? I started out with a love for the written word and some innate musical ability. I took up cooking and learned to love baking. I’ve cultivated athleticism and administration. What else is there? What about you? Because you are a Graceling, too.
God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. – I Peter 4:10