Below is an image of a clean area in our house (also my writing space). Are you nodding in solidarity or shaking your head in OCD horror? I don’t mind either way. I’ve come to terms with our home-life reality… mostly.
Our 1970’s house, basically still all original in its parts and design, is what I’ll call our Blessed Ugly. For me it really is a love/hate relationship. The “most blessed” room in the house, our kitchen, is pretty much where I spend the majority of my time. If I allowed myself to become consumed by all its imperfections and broken parts, both my eyes would start twitching, an ax would somehow find its way into my hands, and the results would be… well… you might not be able to tell a difference, in all honesty.
However, it is in that same room that I also find the space to relax and breathe, to work with my hands and create, and delight my family (well, not my kids EVER) with meals. It’s a sacred place because I am in it; beautiful and vibrant because my desires, feelings, and actions within that space make it so. Anyone from the outside might walk in and feel disturbed, to put it nicely. But it’s not their kitchen to embrace. I, however, know my kitchen- its quirks, workability, and functionality; the important purposes it serves for me and my family. And that, to me, makes it a treasure.
Do you spend much time bemoaning your appearance, your personality, the things you wish you were good at, the opportunities others seem to get that never come your way, or the stuff that you have or don’t have? Have you ever stopped to consider how your appearance, your personality, the things you are good at, the opportunities you do get (whether you like them or not), or the stuff that is yours may positively influence the world around you? Or are you too caught up in rejecting yourself and what’s yours to accept that you are, in fact, enough?
Real example: I hate cleaning. I wish I didn’t. I wish I was really good at it- motivated, knowledgeable about making my own supplies, had a consistent schedule, encouraged my kids’ participation and made it fun. But the truth is, I’m just not. And I probably never will be. I have a different set of priorities for myself and cleaning rarely makes that list. The silver lining is that my kids have developed stellar immune systems- at least I’m hoping- because thinking about that possibility makes me not feel so ashamed.
When we have people over I make a solid attempt to at least ensure no communicable diseases will be passed on. Even so I know that our half-broken furniture, stained carpets, marked up walls (thanks, boys!), and lack of trendy décor is not exactly awe-inspiring to our visitors. This used to bother me quite a bit. In fact, it used to make me feel like I was failing somehow. But now, no longer. First, because I’m getting older and just don’t care as much what other people think. Second, because I’ve come to fully internalize the truth that our realest forms of friendship aren’t dependent on the stuff we have, but the people we are.
We genuinely love and are loved genuinely simply by being who we are. This is a most beautiful truth if you can learn to accept it. Your worthiness as a person is not determined by all the “cannot’s.” You are worthy of life and love because you are you. God designed you, formed you, placed a spirit in you, and determined your purpose. And can I just tell you- your life’s purpose does not equate to your career path. That’s an important point, so take a moment to let that sink in.
Perhaps all you are able to see about yourself are all the things you think you lack. That negative mentality seeps through the porous layers of your heart, mind, and spirit, causing a paralysis of purpose. You become incapable of living out your intended design because you are too distracted by all the extraneous noise of otherness.
“12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[a] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” -1 Corinthians 12:12-20 (NIV)
The truth is that your life matters in the whole of human existence, no matter what your career path or physical or mental capabilities. We all play a part in this universal production, and every role (big or small) matters. When one role fails, the waves are felt. We are all important because of our differences. We can’t all be astronauts. Who would build the space shuttles?
People who don’t know you may look at you and wonder and judge, for whatever reason. The relief comes in knowing that their thoughts and opinions about you don’t actually matter one iota. If you are living out your life sharing your gifts and talents, the people being affected and changed by your words and actions should be your focus. That’s where your responsibility lies.
Sometimes one of the hardest parts about being yourself is accepting that your areas of giftedness and all the things that make you vibrant and beautiful don’t necessarily look the way you want them to or aren’t what you want them to be. When you start comparing yourself to others, the death of your unique self begins.
“Yet we always envy others, comparing our shadows to their sunlit sides.” –Margaret George
When we make comparisons we tend to match up the worst of ourselves and what we have with the best of others. Well of course the scale is going to tip then! What a ridiculous exercise in futility! If you want to live in a constant state of misery and dissatisfaction, continue comparing what you are not and don’t have to what others are and do have. Unfortunately, though, you totally miss the point of existing altogether if you do.
The point of living life is to live your life, not someone else’s. You miss out on experiencing the miracles that only your existence can produce when you keep trying to live as someone else or waste all your time wishing you could. When you cheat your way around the life that you’ve been given by pretending to be something other, you are the biggest loser. But you aren’t just affecting yourself. The other people who also lose are the ones who would have benefitted from your authentic self, had you instead spent your time living out your own full potential. And the waves are felt, whether those feeling them realize the source or not; they still churn and crash and cause pain.
No matter what the world tells you, your life is beautiful, strong, vibrant, worthy, and sacred simply because your spirit resides within. Your spirit is what makes the shell of your human body come to life, no matter its physical capabilities. And if you choose to nurture your spirit and the God-given passions that were woven into it instead of pursuing a false identity, then the light of heaven will radiate powerfully through you. Even the most soul-blinded individual can still detect light. And it could be that you are the very light that finally breaks into their walled-off prison. Had you given up on yourself, it would not be so and the miracle would cease to be.
You are enough. Accept and live into that truth and freedom will follow.
Peace & Love, Amy