When I was in high school, my dad decided he wanted to teach me something new. He was an art teacher. I wasn't very artistic. I dabbled in writing and poetry from time to time, but really, aside from basketball, I wasn't great with my hands.
He felt that my athleticism and hand-eye coordination might combine for some talent on the potter's wheel. So one summer, I found myself sitting at this archaic piece of machinery, wondering what on earth I had gotten myself into.
My dad was a great teacher, though he wasn't mine. I went to a different school, and as his former teenage daughter, I am all but certain he used up every ounce of patience he had, in the classroom. But when in his element, teaching art or coaching basketball, he exuded patience and understanding.
He assured me that I was doing better than most kids do on the wheel their first time. He was very encouraging, but I was a brat. I couldn't get the doggone clay to do anything I wanted. I felt clumsy and frustrated, lacking the control with which I could so easily weave through defenders while dribbling a ball around my ankles.
I gave up. I was never any good at not being good at stuff. If I didn't pick up the skill right away, I'd likely never do it again. I never did, and he never again asked.
When I came across this Bible verse, this memory resurfaced, and it made me think.
What if God gave up? How often do we make His job more difficult? How often do we spin out of control, off track, or in the wrong direction, of our own volition?
The fact is that so many of us exercise our free will daily, even hourly, doing the things we want to do, even when we know, or think that maybe we shouldn't. We don't often pause to speak with Him before making decisions.
Just as that clay seemed to want nothing to do with the plans my hands had for it, we often push back and test boundaries.
What if we just let go?
I looked up the definition to potsherd. Potsherds are historic or prehistoric, broken pieces of ceramic material. Additionally, I found that a potsherd is something of archaeological value, with a high resistance to natural destructive processes.
We were created with the utmost care, lovingly shaped and molded in-spite of ourselves, not to be indestructible, but to be constructible.
Alone we are lumps of clay, or possibly broken fragments of what we once were. If we let go, allow Christ to work in us, through us, around us, we can be made beautiful.
You were created with value and strength. Have faith in the Potter's Hands and let go!
I don't think this comes as much of a surprise, but I love The Little Mermaid. I love it more than any grown woman should. I watched it so much as a child, that I can still recite every line of the film as I'm watching it.
As a child, I would pretend to be a mermaid. I would try to twirl around underwater, holding my feet together, and imagine so vividly that I was a mermaid in the depths of the sea. If they had had those fancy mermaid tail swim suits back then, I would have lost my mind over them. I may or may not have just added one to my Amazon wish list...
But it wasn't until my adult life that I found the irony in all of this.
We watched an entire movie about a mermaid who gave up EVERYTHING to be human, and our take-away, as young children, was desperately wanting to be a mermaid...thee very mermaid who so desperately wanted to be human.
I am all for imagination and pretend. I think those are fabulous things! But this example, from The Little Mermaid, is the epitome of the grass is always greener, isn't it?
This so closely parallels real life, even as adults.
How often do we wish someone else's journey was our own? How often do we wish to be as thin, or pretty, or tall, or smart, or <insert any perceived positive adjective here> as someone else?
How often do we question God and how He created us, or His plans for us?
If The Little Mermaid has taught me anything, it is that while I am wishing I was her, she is wishing she was me.
Maybe I wish I had a fabulous career, while maybe that career woman longs for children she is struggling to conceive. Maybe I wish we had more money, while maybe that wealthy couple's marriage is struggling. These are truly just made up examples to show you that we don't always know someone's whole story. So instead of wishing we were other people, maybe we should stop and appreciate who God made us to be, the plan He has for us, and our own personal journey.
Stop trying to be mermaids who would give up their vocal chords to be you.
Well, you get the point.
On the heels of Mother's Day, when life returns to the chaotic normal of to-do lists and "what's for dinner?" I have a message for all you mothers out there.
As a mother, I think I sometimes (often) have unrealistic expectations of myself. I make myself feel guilty because I'm not playing with my kids enough, or doing enough crafts with them. Maybe they've watched too much TV or played video games for too long while I've been working, or my back has been hurting. I'm not reading to them enough, or interacting with them one on one enough. I don't keep the house clean enough. I'm not Pinterest-y enough...
The more I type out that word, the uglier it gets. And the thing is, none of that is true. Satan will try to make you feel overwhelmed at every turn, make you feel like you're doing everything wrong, make you feel like you're not enough. But remember this...
One day, while I was being particularly hard on myself, I decided to think as far back as my memory could recall, of the things I remember most about my mother when I was a child.
Guess what. It wasn't arts or crafts. It wasn't reading books all the time. It wasn't getting down on the floor to play with me every single day. It is not because she didn't do those things, ever. She did, but my memories are of her being there. I can picture her, working hard on a hot summer day, in our garden, to provide food for us, while I played in the yard around her. I can remember her on bike rides and walks to the park. In later years, I can remember her working hard long days for the Post Office, and then still showing up, in uniform, to rebound for me at basketball practice, or take pictures at my games. I remember the first time I saw her cry, when her grandfather died, and my young brain didn't quite know what to say. I remember her, behind her camera, documenting every part of our lives that she could.
One of the absolute clearest memories I have of her from when I was around 8 years old doesn't have anything to do with play, or quality time, or crafts.
We stopped at the shoe store on our way to the gym one night. We were just looking, not buying that day. We left after a bit, and as we pulled up to the gym, she put her hand in her jacket pocket and pulled out a set of shoe laces from the store. She had accidentally pocketed them while looking around, and didn't even realize it. We immediately piled back into the car to go back. She was so upset. I watched her walk those 25 cent shoe laces back into the store to return them and apologize for her mistake.
Memories of my mother revolve around emotions and character. I may have just been an onlooking observer, sometimes playing on the sidelines with my sister, while she worked, but she was there and that was enough.
Mothers, you are enough. You are exactly the mother your children need you to be. You are doing the works which God has already prepared you for, and your good enough is perfection.
Have you ever learned anything from winning? What do you gain when things always workout for you? What knowledge do you acquire from things always going your way?
Don't get me wrong. There is something wonderfully fantastic about winning. There is something delightful in things always going our way, or coming with great ease, but in reality, for most people, that is not real life.
This verse is one of my all-time favorites, not because I laugh and cheer with joy during difficult times (though maybe I should!), but because, as a former athlete, I can relate. This spoken of joy is not a joy that our worldly minds think of, but rather finding joy in our perseverance, our growth, and mostly, the knowledge that God (not us) is in control.
In this, I feel the world and the scriptures truly intersect. Michael Jordan, a world renown athlete who is known by even those who do not follow basketball, understood that without failure, there was no growth, no gain, no success.
You see, this joy is deeper than any earthly joy you've felt. It is rooted in Christ and a wisdom from the Lord. It comes from only Him, and the knowledge that He is with you in whatever you may be going through, and the understanding that you are growing in Him.
Without the cross, there is no hope.
Without defeat, there is no glory.
Without death there is no life.
Often times we wonder why bad things happen. We might wonder why things aren't going our way.
We're good people, right?
We pay our taxes.
We go to church...most of the time.
So why don't things seem to go our way?
Here's the hard truth. We won't always know. We won't always have all the answers. Sometimes, bad things happen, because we live in a corrupt world where there is a lot outside of our own control, no matter what we do.
But here is something to take comfort in. These bad things can draw us closer to God. We can learn from them. We can grow in them. And sometimes, they are meant for just those things.
This is not always the case. I will not sit here and tell you "everything happens for a reason." Often, just really, horribly tragic things happen to people, and this is not the verse you should share with them for comfort. I am talking about the things most people complain about daily; money, jobs, aches and pains, things.
When things go my way, I often forget about God. Not completely, but in a general busy life kind of way, in which I might not call my parents for more than a week. I don't talk to Him as much. This is something I continually strive to improve upon, but I have found that I am not alone in this. Many of us only turn to him in trouble. Throughout my life, those troubling times have served as a pause, in my journey. Not a stop, or an end all, but a yielding to Him who has the right of way.
Hindsight is always 20/20. But after those times, I realize how they drew me closer to God. How I turned to Him, suddenly in need, and how He took my hand and led me through. I have story upon story, that maybe one day I will share here, of how these pauses taught me patience, wisdom, and most importantly, reliance, on Him. It was good for me to be afflicted.
Whatever you may be going through now, whatever has you feeling stuck in your journey, I pray that you would pause, and allow God to move.
As a wife, mom of 4, and business owner, finding time to spend in the Word, can be difficult, so I get it! Come join me each Monday for a simple message of hope, faith, and encouragement amidst some honest mommy moments.
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