Sacred Scraps

Disclaimer: Sacred Scraps is not meant to be scholarly
but simply me, gleaning meaningful scraps of the Sacred.
I think it is natural for humans to compare ourselves.  I do it, perhaps too much, but I think it is a pretty natural thing.  I wish I were someone who could easily come up with decorating ideas and make my home beautiful.  Or, I really want to be published, to call myself a "real" writer.  Or be one of those cooks who taste something and can determine what is missing easily to adjust their recipe so it is perfect.  Or I would really like to sing well.  Or, I wish I could….
Same thing when I was in school.  I was tall and thin, well, too tall and too thin.  I played the violin from 2nd grade until just before high school.  Because we moved almost every two years, most of my friendships were short term.  I was never comfortable around those "happy, normal" people.  They made me suspicious.  Basically, I was an awkward, gawky nerd.  I always wanted to be shorter (or go all the way and be 6 feet tall), cuter, able to buy the "in" clothes, be really smart or not so smart...
One of the places I struggled the most was with God.  When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a preacher, just like my grandfather.  I loved his confidence in God.  I admired the way he loved his people.  I liked to be in his study, with all his books and commentaries.  I remember when I first heard that they let you study God in college, and I knew that I wanted to do that.
Unfortunately, and I can remember the day…I was pretty young, maybe 12 and sitting at my grandparents kitchen counter, when I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up.  Well, when I told them a preacher, somehow I expected them to be proud. 
Instead, they laughed.  I am sure that they just thought I was kidding.  They were Southern Baptists after all.  When they realized that I was serious, they just said, "You can’t do that. You are a girl, and only men can be preachers!"
It is bad enough to think that you are inferior to your school friends or coworkers or siblings, but God was something different.  I wasn't good enough for him, either!  And, it was sort of his fault, right?  I knew that he made me, but that was the moment when I started thinking that maybe he made me wrong.
Do you ever feel like that? 
Did you ever think that maybe you aren't who you were supposed to be? 

That maybe you aren't good enough?
Maybe it isn’t about a career choice, but instead it is about your talent.  Maybe you lack grace but always wanted to be athletic.  Maybe you are someone who is introverted but always wanted to hang with the popular group.  Maybe you are in the popular crowd, but you want to be taken more seriously than your current friends will.  Maybe your family doesn’t approve of your dreams.  Maybe what you dream about is beyond your family’s means.  Or maybe you have a disability...a hard time learning or walking or maybe you were born with a crooked nose.  All you really want is to fit in and be "normal."
While comparing ourselves to others may be natural, it does make us feel less than ok, and maybe even wonder why God made us the way he did.
I guess the real question is, does God really intend for us to be the way we are?
Probably everyone, even those who haven't spent much time in church, have heard this text before.  It is one of "those" Sunday School stories.  Someone even made a movie about facing giants.  I don’t want to focus on the giant.  We all know who and what the giants are in our lives.  Let’s focus on the little guy.  The guy we feel like.  David. In 1 Samuel 17.
You need to know that shepherding was not a glamorous job.  It was the job left for the runts of the family-the young and weak, the elderly, those who couldn’t really do anything else.  So while we know that David ends up the hero, we need to remember that he was the runt here.  A vulnerable kid, really.  And because he was probably the only one around that his father wouldn’t miss too much, he was sent to where the army was camped.

David had brothers who bullied him, like many of us.  To them he is a snotball baby brother who thinks too much of himself and doesn't take care of the chores that he is given.

Maybe his brothers thought he was being boastful when David offered to fight the taunting Philistine.  Whatever they thought, they certainly didn't stop him.  Maybe they figured it would teach him a lesson.  Someone told King Saul what David had said, but even Saul dismissed his offer, "You are too young.  This other guys has so much more experience."

David persisted, telling Saul about his combat experiences-killing a lion and a bear while protecting the family sheep.  So Saul figured he will give the kid a shot, but David isn't dressed properly.  Saul has his own armor brought in and put on David.

Of course, this is how men went into battle, but David wasn't a man or much of a warrior.  He set aside all the typical gear of warfare and just too his sling and gathers a few rocks to face, an kill, the Philistine.

Which of course, he does.

So what does this mean for us?

David wasn't supposed to be at the battlefield.  He wasn't trained.  He wasn't even old enough to go to war with his brothers.  David was just a kid who tended sheep at home.  What David did, though, was capitalize on the gifts that he had.

While he was out tending the sheep, he had a need to fight off predators.  He practiced throwing rocks for accuracy.  He knew how to do that.  And he had the guts to do what needed done.

Everyone was comparing David to the warrior that they felt would be able to defeat the enemy.  Certainly, David didn't look like that.  But he wasn't bothered by it.

What if we weren't either?  What would happen if we accepted that God was building us, creating us, equipping us in a unique way for a unique purpose?

I wouldn't have to compare myself to anyone.

What if we trusted that our gifts and quirks and experiences were given to us to be used by us, for Him?

See, because I spent so much time alone and observing others as a kid, I began to write.  Because God was what I knew better than anything, I wrote about God.  I still do.  I may not preach in a church, but I preach as I write.  I speak to others about addiction, sharing my experience and hope.  And I mentor women, guiding them along their spiritual journey.  While the story of my life was not what I envisioned, in many ways, I am the pastor that I dreamt of being as a child.

What about you?  What gift or talent or quirk or experience might God have given you, uniquely you, to be used for his purpose?  Before you compare yourself to others, take a moment and think about this.  And I even invite you, just like David gathered his stones before battle, find yourself a stone to remind you.  Let it remind you of how unique you are, and how God intended it that way?  You aren't an accident of chromosomes!  You are unique, and uniquely gifted. There will be a time when that gift will be called on.  Don't sell God, or yourself, short by trying to be someone that he didn't create you to be!  Get a stone.  Write your gift, or your uniqueness on it.  Let it remind you.  Let it encourage you: You were uniquely made, for a unique purpose.



Anonymous said…
So... the darkness has lifted. Amen preacher. Your congregation needs you at your best. Thank you.
Jaime Plank said…
Thank you for reading & your kind words :) Wish I knew who you were, Anonymous!

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