The past couple of weeks, I have had the utmost privilege of volunteering at City Rescue Mission in Oklahoma City with a few of my friends, one of whom blogs as well! Read her stuff -- she's wonderful! These sweet friends of mine have been venturing up to City Rescue since the beginning of the semester, and every time they talked about it, I could not get over how much I loved their stories.
So they were so nice to let me join them a few weeks ago, and needless to say, I absolutely fell in love. I've heard it said we are at our happiest when we are living out God's plan for our lives. Now if you aren't much for religion, obviously you'd refute that statement; however, I believe it to be completely accurate. I'm not saying I know that through volunteering at City Rescue for three weeks, I have discovered the hidden layers of the Lord's plan for my life. But I do think that a picture has been reinforced in both my mind and heart about what why I love the things I do.
Nonetheless, yesterday I was playing "Spelling Bee" with a few of my little elementary school friends at City Rescue. At first I was so excited, because who doesn't love a good spelling bee?! But soon after we began, I realized that of our two competitors, one was much more advanced in his spelling capabilities than the other. I was somewhat at a lost as to how to handle the situation. I could tell the boy who was having trouble spelling certain words was beginning to feel inadequate. Then Mr. Spelling Stud announced that he had recently obtained 7 Honor Rolls, which honestly I was quite confused how one individual could make 7 Honor Rolls before having entered 4th grade.
But whatever the case may have been, my other little friend stood up and slowly walked away with his head down. I wanted to start crying. I felt awful. Oh "the best laid plans..." Note to self: NEVER have spelling bees with opponents on such drastically different levels.
I told Spelling Stud that we should probably take a break from our fictional Bee for a bit and walked over to my other spelling friend. By that point he had sat down all by his lonesome, eyes fixed to the ground beneath him. I asked him if we could read a story together, and he didn't even look up. But being the somewhat persistent individual I am, I took his silence to be a yes. So I picked up a book at random, sat down next to him, and began to read.
We made it through the first couple of pages with minimal conversation -- a little chat about animals. (For some reason, animals seem to be my go-to topic of conversation with children. It's weird, but whatever.) But at the turn of page four, he spoke softly.
"How does he have 7 Honor Rolls, and I only have 1? He's better at everything than me -- football, basketball, everything."
My heart broke. I am so passionate about individuals understanding their self-worth in the eyes of the Lord, because it is a truth that is powerful enough to cast away any and all feelings of self-doubt and self-hate. Up unto this point, I have really only done a great deal of thinking about this regarding women -- obviously, as I am a woman myself. I didn't know how to help this little boy feel validated in who he was, because he was overwhelmed by the fact that this other little kid was better than him at a few specific things. I just wanted to scream out...
But right align with my second nature, I opened my mouth. "You know, there are always going to be people who are better than we are at certain things. There is always going to be someone who is smarter than me, wealthier than me, prettier than me, etc. But that is why we shouldn't compare ourselves to anyone else. We have characteristics that are completely unique to ourselves. There is never going to be another person like you. The Lord created you perfectly -- in His image. And I would venture to say he is not better at you in EVERYTHING. So we're just going to sit here until you can think of something."
Silence. Apparently I don't know how to handle silence. So I began reading again.
About three minutes later, the soft voice next to me spoke again, "Spiro."
"Spiro? What's that?"
"Video game. I'm on at least level 5. I think he's only on 4."
Cutest thing in the world. I could hardly keep from giggling, because this child could not have been any more precious. This whole event made me realize a couple of things. I have so much room to grow in wisdom before raising my children. Also, it reminded me of the story in John, where Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.I think so many times in life, we are ashamed by decisions we have made, roads we have taken. We're embarrassed by the fact that we are inadequate. We look at the people around us and are easily overwhelmed by how perfect they seem and how imperfect we are. Whether that is because they make more money, seem to have a happier family, have a beach-ready body year-round, never experienced acne, or know a larger number of spelling words than you do... ;)
We allow the world to convince us that we aren't good enough. We are told lies like if you date that boy, you will be happy. This diet will solve all your problems. If only you graduate from this university, you'll be set for life. We hear these things so frequently, that it is so easy to be deceived by them. So we try them all out -- search for happiness, joy, contentment -- in all the wrong places only until we're left with more scars than we can count.
When Peter said to Jesus, "You will never ever wash my feet," so much went along with that statement. I think he was saying, "Me, Jesus? No, I do not deserve that. I am filthy. My life has been nothing but failure after failure. Who am I that you would wash my feet? You can't. I don't deserve it. I can't even spell."
But Jesus didn't take that response as a possible answer, "Unless, I wash you, you won't belong to me."
Sometimes I imagine what Jesus would say to me over coffee.
"Cait, you know I love you -- for you. I didn't create you, hoping you'd end up like Suzy Jane or Mary Lee or Lilly Grace. No, I created you, because I wanted YOU to be YOU. I have a Suzy Jane who can whip up the perfect pumpkin pie in a matter of minutes, and I have a Mary Lee who is an expert on political theories in the Middle East. I created you for a different purpose -- a purpose distinctively for you. And if you spend all your time comparing yourself to these other people, you're going miss out on the wonderful things I have in store for you. Don't you understand how beautiful I think you are? I would go to the end of the world just to win your heart. I love you, can't you tell?? Quit pretending to be someone you aren't, but embrace EVERY OUNCE of who you are. Can't you see? I love you despite all your imperfections? Always and forever!!!!"
"Yes, my darling, you are a princess in my eyes. But no need to make yourself up like one. You're beautiful just the way you are."
It's so easy let the world convince us that all the qualities and characteristics we lack are the things that define us. She's not good at tennis. Or he doesn't know the first thing about playing guitar. But I refuse to let the things I am not be what defines me. As followers of Jesus, we have been washed clean (psalm 51), and we belong to the Lord. And "we are God's masterpiece. He created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do all the good things He planned in advance for us to do" (Ephesians 2:10). Furthermore, "He who began a good work in you will carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6).
Pray about who you can encourage to trust in the truth that we were each created for GREATNESS. And then encourage them. More to come. All my love!