Recently I had about five minutes spare to take a quick photo before I headed out early to work.
I prefer a more leisurely pace but its all the time I had available and sometimes that works just as well as all the time in the world.
I found myself hard pressed as usual mid week to find a spot that I might actually like to show the Instagram world. Just one tidy corner would do, that didn’t look like cave men had moved in to go with a few words I’d written.
My kitchen bench, cleaned down and shiny usual source of calm and feeling at one with the world, is my go to spot when all else fails. But not so, today.
Today, all I could see were chips and cracks and cups hanging wonky.
There was a thin layer of dust and right at the centre my big vase of flowers sat all off kilter and bunched up in one bit and gappy in the other.
Tiny irritations in the bigger scheme of things, of course, but when you’re tired and pressed for time and a bit overwhelmed (as we all often are) ridiculous things can throw us sideways.
And in those kind of moments, with images of perfect homes and pretty faces and clever words right at hand, the question is always there: what do I have to offer, when there are those that write words that float like music on air and when there is the most extraordinary beauty being created and given up to the world?
How do I compare?
Me, with my ramshackle house, a job I love but that pays not enough, and feeling tired and tattered to the core.
Do I bow out for want of a more polished life?
Not take the picture, not write my words, take to the shadows because my life isn’t all neat lines and shiny surfaces and swirly dust-free curves?
Comparison will goad us into it if we let it; push us to the sidelines of our life, intimidate us into silence, make us feel small.
But then the world misses out.
Our people miss out.
Our art misses out.
On our light.
On our creativity.
On the beauty of us doing our own thing wildly and uniquely and authentically in the world.
‘We wish we were braver. Less anxious. More articulate. We wish we had better abs. We wish we were more ready than we feel. Oh well.
Lets step out into the world anyway. Because we’ve been invited.’
Here’s something, too:
If I look at what I haven’t too closely I might forget what I have. The sheer abundance of it all.
You and I have “all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3).
If I look at what others have too closely I might miss seeing what they haven’t: their loss, their loneliness, their need of a friend, their need of a good word.
See, this question of have and have not, as tempting as it is to beat ourselves up with, is not the thing that matters.
Showing up right where we are with what God has given us might be, though.
Showing up regardless of our lack and limitations – I think that might matter.
Showing up because there is no one else that can be who we are, or offer what we can offer in our families, in our workplaces, in the world.
And we can show up knowing we have God who is in the business of turning life as we understand it on end.
Who somehow makes small things big and last things first and, with a simple nod, turns plain old ordinary water into the finest of wines.
I like this: ‘There’s always some one right in front of me who has needs that I am perfectly suited to meet, regardless of my education level, my current job, or my socioeconomic status in life.’ Edie Wadsworth2
So, friends, let’s keep our eyes on our own side of the garden.
Let’s learn from others, rejoice with others, cheer them on big,
but let’s follow our hearts and lean in deep to the sweet goodness of what God can grow right where we are, with what we have to give right now.