I was putting away the hundredth item that had found its way into the dining room and wondering why I seem to be the only person in the house that understands if you get it out, put it back. I noticed some of the "stuff" fit if I pushed aside something else in the cupboard. In this case the something else was pitcher that I was given so that I could serve iced tea from it, because in the words of the giver, "I needed it." Thing is, I have never used the pitcher even once. I prefer to serve tea from its jug I keep in the door of the fridge. It stays colder that way.
As I turned away from the cabinet, I glanced around at all the other things that filled my home, most of which were given to me because I "needed" them. (Okay, I'll be honest. Some of them I bought because I convinced myself I needed them. Advertising is a pro at making us feel like we "need" things in order to be truly happy. By the way, it just makes you feel like you have more stuff. Not necessarily an advantage when it comes to living life.)
I seem to be surrounded by stuff someone else thought I "needed." There is the silverware that doesn't really fit my personality but I picked it because my mom told me that the simple style I'd wanted was too plain. I needed the fancier forks. Out of respect, or maybe frustration, I said okay. There is the cookie jar that I was given that is never used, the ladder-back chairs that tip too easily and aren't really very comfortable, and I can't forget to include the full-length fake fur coat that makes me look a bit like I should wear a flapper dress, carry a college pennant and say things like "Bees Knees!
I understand that the gifts are given in love and it is the thought that counts but I am now left with the task of figuring out what to do with all this "stuff." It all seems to be things that THEY loved, but that just don't fit me.
Reminds me a bit of when David went to King Saul to tell him that he'd go take on Goliath. King Saul meant well, but he tried to put HIS armor on that scrawny little kid and expected it to fit. Of course, we all know the story. David realized he couldn't possibly take on that giant wearing someone else's armor. He had to do what God said using the gifts he already had, the gifts given to him by God.
It's usually about this time in my writing that I figure out where a blog is headed. What is it that God is showing me? I thought it was going to be something like not cluttering my life with what others think I should or should not be...then it hit me. Maybe I've done the same thing to others.
Maybe I haven't given cookie jars or chairs or silverware, but have I been guilty of looking at others and wondering why they don't just do things the way I would do them. I have to ask myself have I looked at my boss or co-workers or those "in charge" and been critical because they don't do things the way I would? Do I expect other teachers to teach the way I do? Do I expect parents to parent the way I do? Do I expect others to worship the way I do? Do I expect others to do things my way because that is what they "need" to do? I figure they "need" my armor because it fits me so well, surely it will fit them, too.
But that's not how it works. Each of us have been given gifts and a job to do. What I see as "needed" will only serve to clutter their lives if not weigh them down so that they can't even fight. I really don't want to put that weight on anyone.
I guess it all boils down to this. I don't want to clutter my life with stuff or expectations of what others think is right for me. I will continue to seek out the advice of others - especially those who have walked these paths before. I will also try to refrain from "judging" those who do things differently than me. As long as we are serving Christ, we are working toward the same goal...serving with our whole heart the One who loves us.
And that is all we really "need."
Luke 10:41-42 (MSG)
The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”
Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive.
14-18 I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.
19-24 But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”? Or, Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When it’s a part of your own body you are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honor just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, you have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If you had to choose, wouldn’t you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair?
25-26 The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.
27-31 You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything.