Before you run for the ear plugs, fear not, I am not about to run through lush green hills, singing as I go, channelling my inner Julie Andrews. No one is ready for that, least of all me. That said, while it would take me a very long time to list all that I would be singing about, were I so inclined, I was very blessed today to get to ‘experience’ just a few of my favourite things.
I had time with the girls, I had a day at home when I should have been at work, I drank a cup of my favourite coffee. I watched some Little Green Tree creations come together before my eyes (the mess I managed to make in so doing does not, for the record, list among any of my favourites, though!) I admired the stunning scenery in the place I am blessed to call home (yes, I am biased but, I have every right to be 😉) Along with the girls, I had the opportunity to enjoy the reality of autumn and even, one of the best things about the season, kick through fallen leaves.
On our drive home, I stopped by the side of the road (For the record, this was in a safe place, just in case the hubby is reading), to take a picture of one of my favourite things and something I think we can learn a lot from: the stone wall, or ditch, depending on where you hail from, I suppose.
I look on these creations that adorn the surrounding countryside as a thing of real beauty. I am awed by their uniqueness and the way they came to be. If you were asked to create the success criteria (yes, I’ve probably been working in education for too long!) for a wall, I’d guess that, like me, you’d probably list all the stereotypical things you would expect: flat, symmetrical, secured with cement, bricks of the same size and a level top, to name but a few. But, in truth, there is very little in that list that would lend itself to the description of a stone wall and yet, is it any less of a one? Absolutely not.
The stone wall spoke to me today (not literally you’ll be glad to hear – though when you’ve heard your two your old very cutely request ‘more unicorns please’ for lunch, pretty much anything could be possible!) . Each and every stone in the wall is selected and put in place by a master craftsman who knows exactly what they are doing. Each stone has a purpose of its own to serve but also, it is positioned so that it can support the surrounding stones and together, they make a thing of beauty that is completely unique and serves well the purpose for which it was created. A stone wall is not created in the same way that a ‘stereotypical’ wall is, nor does it look the same. Why? Because it isn’t the same. It is uniquely created, to serve its own purpose, in exactly the place where it is needed. And each and every part of it is put together by a master craftsman who knows exactly the purpose for which it exists.
I don’t suppose walls spend a lot of time comparing themselves to other walls. Nor, I suspect, do those who build them declare one a ‘real’ wall that serves its purpose well, while they see another kind of structure as a failure. Just as each and every stone is carefully selected and put in place to serve its very unique purpose, so too, are we. I don’t think I’m alone when I admit that, on a daily basis, I struggle with the need to compare myself. How I look, how I dress, how I sound, how I think, how I feel, how I present myself, how I wish I had the presence of mind and the strength of character of others, the ability to think straight and say the right thing that others do, rather than blundering through, thinking what if, or if only. But here’s the lesson I’m learning: I wasn’t created to be one of those other people. I was created to be me. And you, my friend, were created to be you. Totally unique, totally incomparable because, after all, how can we compare something that is a one-off?
Ephesians 2 verse 10 says: ‘For you are God’s workmanship/masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which He has prepared in advance for us to do.’ Like each and every wall and each stone that is carefully selected by the master craftsman to be part of it, so we too are carefully created by a Master Craftsman – One who knows us better than we know ourselves, and one who has a very special and unique purpose and plan for each and every one of us.
Whatever your views or beliefs, never lose sight of the fact that you are you for a very specific reason. We are all completely unique individuals and because of that, we need to avoid comparing ourselves with others, because, quite simply, that way madness lies. And, how can you compare one bespoke piece of craftsmanship with another? You can’t.
As I type, I know that this is a truth, one that has been speaking its way into my heart for a while now. Does that mean that I will never again fall into the trap of wishing I were thinnner, better dressed, always on top of my to-do list, to name but a few? I wish. Chances are, that battle will begin afresh tomorrow, if not before I even get to sleep tonight. But I do know this, that realising where our faults lie is the first step towards dealing with them. And, each time I begin to compare myself with another, I hope that I can focus instead on the unqiueness of the stone wall, each component carefully selected, so that it serves the purpose for which it was intened and, is a thing of beauty, for at least one admirer anyway.
Don’t try to be someone else. You’re a handcrafted masterpiece with a purpose all your own, don’t you forget it!
P.S. As for the’unicorns’ which we regularly consume? Maybe I should have corrected her mistake and got her to ask for ‘sweetcorn’ instead, but that wouldn’t have been nearly as entertaining or as uniquely her, so why would I? I’m sure the time will come, all too soon, when she asks for it correctly, but for now, when it happens, she brings a lot of smiles to the faces around the table. And we love her for who she is, with her taste for ‘unicorns’ and all. We accept her as she is, without question, because that’s just ‘her’. Let’s try to do the same for ourselves.