Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Our beauty and flaws

Like an old wooden table, we have beauty and flaws. Our beauty shines through in our gifts and talents; in who we are and how we love. Our beauty is especially cherished by those who are dearest to us. Yet, at the same time, like an old wooden table, our flaws intermingle with our beauty.

This is how our Creator sees us, the beautiful and the flawed.  God sees a beauty that encompasses all: the sturdiness, the durability, the reliance, the authenticity, of this beautiful piece of work. Yet, at the same time, He takes notice of the scratches, the stains, the knots, the wormholes; all the flaws that are there on the surface for all to see. And He loves it. He loves it all.

Like that table, it is difficult to hide our flaws.  They are there, out in the open.  Some of us might do a better job of hiding the flaws. However, in the end, they are there. They are a part of us that we cannot deny. We cannot ignore our defects and yet, we can use them to become even more beautiful.

What flaws are you ashamed of? What character defect do you try and hide? What weaknesses surface at the most inopportune times, despite your best efforts to cover them up. Do you try to buff them out? Sand them down with your sense of humor or your silence? Your intelligence and wit? Still, you see them surface time and time again. How to remove them forever, you ask? But that would take the character away from that old beautiful table. The flaws are a part of its beauty.

Although our weaknesses can be a cross, a burden if you will, they also present us with an opportunity to grow. Our defects help us to remember that we are not perfect and that there is only One that is perfect. God. God alone is perfect. Our weaknesses remind us that we cannot make it on our own. Yet, they help us strive for that perfection we do seek. We seek perfection because ultimately we strive to "be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect." (Mt. 5:48)

We become who we are meant to be by acknowledging our flaws. We become more of who we were created to be when we carry our vulnerability, our debilities, with dignity. They keep us humble. They keep our feet planted firmly on the ground.

At the end of the day, they are a part of who we are. And just like that old wooden table that we feast on, share coffee with close friends upon, we are beautiful.  That old reliable table we polish and clean, sand and down and reseal, whose every blemish tells a story, is sturdy and reliable. We are rich with beauty because our imperfections make us a work, always in progress. Although our flaws make us imperfect, they should make us reliable human beings that ultimately understand our neighbors imperfections, precisely because we share that same cross of weakness.

I encourage you to take a look at your weaknesses, your flaws, your blemishes. Take a look at them with eyes of mercy. Accept them. Strive to improve upon them, while also recognizing that they make up who you are. And remember that it is there, in that very part that you sometimes try so very hard to cover up, that God does some of His greatest work: He shows His Mercy!

Monday, November 4, 2019

Who are you meant to be?

"Be who you are meant to be and you will set the world on fire!" What I love about this quote is the truth that lies within these simple words, but also that if you examine it further, you will find a journey for your life. Who are you meant to be really? Most of us spend our entire life trying to figure this question out.

One of the best parts of this quote is that it talks about fire and not just a small flame, mind you. A fire! Setting the world on fire. The image that comes to my mind when I read this is that of my own heart being set on fire and enkindling other fires all around me.

When I do the things that I love, and I'm not talking about shopping or watching a good movie...meaningful things. When I do things with a purpose; fulfilling things. When I engage in what truly makes me come alive, well, I feel like I'm on fire. Fully alive. I am set ablaze. It's like a fire that burns within me. It's a fire that does not consume but burns continuously. This happens when I use my gifts and talents.

And when this happens, when I feel that burning within me, I know I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. I am becoming who God meant me to be. Of course, it's not all about doing. The quote does say "meant to be." But if we examine this, essentially who we are meant to be, is part and parcel with using the talents we have been given. When we use these gifts, when we share them, we are most fulfilled. When we are fulfilled we become more of who we are meant to be. We are fully alive!

What are the things that make you feel alive? That set you on fire? Have you not found the fire? What are your talents? What gives you joy but also pushes you towards giving to others?  Look for the fire! Those very things that bring you most joy and set your heart ablaze, are the very things that will "set the world on fire".

My husband and I started a project two years ago to set up a Classical High School here in Metro Detroit. I will say that this project lied well outside of our comfort zones but we had this strong intuition that we needed to move forward with it, no matter how uncomfortable we felt. In the process, both David and I have discovered new talents that we did not know we had. But perhaps the most beautiful thing that has set our hearts ablaze has been the people that we have met and are journeying with as well as the faith and trust we have had to place in God.

Setting the world on fire, discovering who you really are is not an easy process. It can be quite uncomfortable and even, I will admit, painful. But there is nothing that is completely worth it that does not require pain and growth. The Lord has instilled in us an assurance that not only He is in charge but that "He's got this!"

I encourage you, dear reader, to allow the Lord to help you discover who you are and who you are meant to be. In the process, along the journey, the flame in your heart will turn into a raging fire. He will show you that those gifts and talents that He has given you are not only for your own joy and fulfillment but for the world. He will set you ablaze if you let him, and in turn, you will light fires of love and hope all around you.