Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cardboard Blessings

It happens in life that you come to a place of reckoning, where everything is stripped away and you come face to face with the stuff of who you are. It is like the heavens open up and you see yourself unvarnished. The supports fall away and the bare-naked truth reveals itself: We really are dust. Or cardboard. That's the way I came to think of it at a particularly pointed time of unvarnishing in my life. Through those somewhat painful moments I began to see how human I really am, that without Grace filling me up, my life is more like cardboard than crystal.

That "moment of truth" was quite a few years ago. While it was quite a shocking revelation at the time, I've come to accept, make friends with, my cardboard-ness. After all, though it is not very pretty, cardboard is not as fragile as crystal. And I kind of like the anonymity that comes with being deeply ordinary. I am comfortable there. Don't get me wrong: I try really hard to give my best. But I also know that in my quirky expression of self, my best is not often pretty. It just is what it is. I jokingly tell my dear prayer partner, "At some point God has to take credit for my ineptness; after all He made me this way, and only He is able to make me into something different." Sometimes I feel like I need one of those cartoon bubbles over my head filled with words: "Please forgive her; she is cardboard." Or dust. People may need the explanation, but God never does. I love the scripture that says, "He knows how we are made; He remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103:14). Even cooler is the verse right before that: "As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear Him (Psalm 103:13). So I just recklessly abandon myself to the Lord's compassion. I know that He gets me.

The coolest thing happened the other day. For months I have been frustrated with my little boys clothes chest. It has shelves in it where we stack his clothes, but as he sorts through them they often become a tangled mess. There is no order, no neat stacks, just the chaos of wadded pants, shirts, and shorts. For a while now I have wanted to get baskets that we could use to separate the clothes in this chest, but it always seemed like such a frivolous expense. And then the other day I happened to think that the boxes that hold the baby wipes and diapers we use for our six month old are just the perfect size! Sure enough they fit perfectly, neatly holding pants and shorts, with shirts nicely folded and stacked in between. I even cut the fronts off of them so that we can easily see what is where, making everything easily accessible. After the fury of activity that made the mess manageable, my sons and I stood back with awe and appreciated our hard work. Instead of chaos there were simply stacks, neatly contained by, you guessed it, cardboard.

It took me a couple of days to realize what had happened. Not so much in the "my son's room is messy" arena, but in the "my soul's room is messy" arena. For the purpose we needed fulfilled for little boy clothes, those cardboard boxes worked perfectly, better than fancy baskets that would have cost alot. And I realize now, for the purposes God has chosen me for, exaclty who I am is exactly who He needs. This cardboard self that I am has Divine purpose. And I don't have to be crystal to fulfill it. And even if I were crystal, I never could be and do the things He needs me to be and do. From His perspective, no apologies are needed.

From my quiet time today the scripture reading is this: "What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. For we are God's servants, working together" (I Corithians 3:5-9). This is all to say that God uses us according to His own wisdom, working through our lives in unique ways that ultimately bring glory to Him alone. So don't worry about not being something you are not. Sure you may not look like Apollos or Paul. Your life may be more cardboard than crystal. But God has a purpose for you that absolutely will be fulfilled when you surrender your self to His love, boldly trusting in His awesome compassion. He love you, and dear one, He also loves through you.

This is me full of trust,


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