I had just five minutes, but I wanted to take a turn about one of my frequented thrift stores, just to see if there was any new hidden treasure waiting to be rescued and restored. After all, it had been a week since I’d last been there. A lot of things can float in and out of a busy thrift store in that amount of time.
On my way in, I saw my doctor of the last 11 years. She’s the one who delivered 4 out of 5 of my babies, who has helped our family with our various ailments, has encouraged me not to worry, and given me hugs when I needed. You see, over the last 11 years she has become more than a physical care-taker, and although she is a skilled doctor, she has also become a bit of a friend. We always end up chatting and sub-sequential laughter is usually followed in the event of an office visit. So as we entered the second-hand store, she was explaining how it is her second time there and I describe how I scour the shelves every week. She divulges the contrast that while she is attempting to be crafty I am actually finding the good stuff. And I correct her, “no, I am actually finding junk — to turn into something beautiful.” And she, in her undeniably contagious laughter says, “I’m just not amazing and crafty like you.”
So we go our separate ways, and I take a quick sweep around, my eyes scanning the untidy shelves and discarded goods. I’m about to exit when I spy a miniature wooden rocking horse abandoned on a metal shelf. It looks as if it had been the recipient of a sharpie and a reddish wood stain that was smeared on but not finished. I pick it up, pay the $1.03, and see my doctor-friend a couple of aisles over. “Did you find something?” she asks. I nod and show her the abandoned little rocking horse, “It’s ugly now,” I explain, “but I will make it beautiful.”
She shakes her head again, laughing and admitting she doesn’t have that gift. And I reply with all sincerity, “We all have something different to contribute to the world.”
It was a truth I had been mulling over, preaching to myself the last couple of weeks.
While Christmas is being taken down, I find myself in a season marked by blizzards of introverted introspection. After all, it’s what we’re supposed to do in January. The start of a new year, a chance for things to be fresh and new. I’ve been reading a book about how to improve this space on the web called my blog. But through those blizzards of thought, I am having to put on brave. To brace against the dark and cold – to shovel a path through the hard drifts and walk faithfully, simply with what has been placed in my hands.
You know how the saying goes, “we are our own worst critic” and while my evaluation started out positive, and pleased that in the last year and a half I have done a lot right, I then started looking at other beautiful, amazing blogs that have hundreds of thousands views a month, that earn amazing money, that write books, and are published in magazines.
And pretty soon, all the joy I receive in hitting the “publish” button for each little post begins self-imploding in the comparison trap. And I started doubting myself, and this blog, and why am I even bothering when there are hundreds, if not thousands of blogs that are way more popular, polished, and publishing far more posts than mine?
Then I hear these simple words. The words that encouraged me start this place on the huge World Wide Web in the first place.
You just need to be faithful with what you have.
That’s all. Just faithful with what’s in my hands. It’s not a competition, really, although the world wants you to think so. It’s stewardship. Am being I trustworthy with what I’ve been given?
My husband asks on a lunch date, “and have you been kind to yourself?” Well, yes, but I’m doing this wrong, and I need to grow here, and I don’t measure up there…. No, no…. Because being kind to yourself, and an honest evaluation should start with only one question, am I being faithful with what I’ve been given?
Then the comparison is halted in its tracks. Being daunted by other great shadows is turned to a wake of empowering strength. Because we all should be learning, growing, tweaking and becoming greater, but success is measured only by what is in our own hands. And so I look back on the last couple of years and where I’ve come. My photography has improved, my writing has become stronger, I post more confidently, I have a basic rhythm in the midst of five littles, and there has been slow and steady growth of readers. Best of all, I hear from time to time how these little words of mine, these photos, pasted onto a screen in a little corner of the world touch, inspire, and encourage others.
I want to be counted as faithful.
Faithful ones take out tambourines when they are old and worn and lead a worship service in the midst of a dried up sea. Faithful ones share the word hidden in their heart at the right time and right place when the spirit leads. Faithful ones believe a dream and a word, though a prison holds them hostage, testing their character. Faithful ones invite others in, even when it seems there might not be enough. Faithful ones embrace God’s specific anointing for craftsmanship, and with needle and thread their hands embroider curtains for the temple. Faithful ones invest and are faithful with the talents given to them. Faithful ones bring their meager lunch of bread and fish and are willing to share, though it does not appear at first to be enough. Faithful ones arise as mothers and watch crime disappear and village life reappear. Faithful ones take a common tent peg and with it, destroy the enemy. Faithful ones craft baskets into little reed boats when they see that their baby was not an ordinary child.
I want to be one called faithful.
I pull out that little wooden rocking horse, and mix up some milk paint. Wanting it to look aged with a narrative beyond its present life, I dry it with a blow dryer. Chippy and crackled paint writes a new story for a miniature rocking horse restored.
I place it on the lowest shelf of the built-ins in our living room, providing a pretty, but touchable toy in baby’s reach. And I look and remember, my doctor-friend faithful in bringing life to the world.
I too want to be one called faithful.