Body Parts

image

When people say, “It takes all kinds,” that’s no joke. For things to work properly and efficiently, requires many hands. Each of us depends on a variety of other humans with unique skills and abilities, everyday. The truth is, apart from each other, we are nothing (like me without coffee some mornings!).

Life here on earth is simple, yet multifaceted. We are one, but many. Even within the basics, like shelter, food, clothing…there is a dependence on those with more knowledge in that specific realm. Not just knowledge, but also experience. And hopefully, wisdom.

I wake up in the morning with a roof over my head, a dark room to stumble through, respite from the noisy world, because of people who have what it takes to build houses. I can enjoy my daily bowl of steel cut oats, apple slices, and so on, thankfully, because there are people who grow, cultivate, distribute and sell these items that I and my family, and yours, need for sustenance. Get the picture?

Romans 12:4 depicts this dependence on one another in the same way a body functions – one body, with many members…all with different purposes. And Paul goes on to tell us that we have gifts that differ, “let us use them.” He sets a standard of exellence for us to follow, for the best possible use of our gifts. “With zeal.” “With cheerfulness.”

As with our human bodies, each part, each “member” has a useful role to play. Each person has value. Every skill is needed for the whole to work as it was intended and for all to benefit.

Ironically, I was thinking about my car while driving this morning. And my brother-in-law. He’s a mechanic, and has been his whole adult life. Some might consider that a low-on-the-totem-pole job (I’m sure he’s made to feel that way sometimes). It’s dirty, hard work that we take for granted. But for those who have a passion for the way engines work and love the intrigue of diagnosing and fixing a problem when things go wrong…this is a terrific job.

We shake our heads and say, “That’s not for me.” Right on, it’s not. That job is for them, the ones who have been given that task, “according to the grace given.” My brother-in-law has been given grace to perform the role of car mechanic, as if he’s serving the Lord, but also as a member of one body. And the rest of us have our own assignment, our own passions, and talents, that the Lord has given us to serve others with.

Each of us has a role to play, but with locked arms on the stage of life, each depending on the next, all serving this one body that we collectively make up.

And it makes me realize that I so appreciate, yet fail to show it, the folks that we’ve decided are “behind the scenes.”

The car mechanics. The retail clerks. The chefs. Janitors. Truck drivers. Pilots. Think about this…the bakers, construction workers, trash collectors. The pastors. Farmers Mothers. And so many, many more.

If your child grows up and wants to go to work in a field that seems to you…a little less than what you’d hoped for, stop. Rethink it. Recognize the value in that role, that member, that human. Your child is vital to this body. This body needs the skills that your child possesses and will be lacking without.

So a big shout-out, with genuine gratitude, to ALL of the members of this beautiful body of humanity.

It takes all kinds.

Advertisements

The Light in the Kitchen

 

image

The house is quiet now.  The scene has gone dark. Missing are the blue lights, cell phones, computer screens and tv. No more open-close of the refrigerator. Creaking floors are silent. Even the birds outside the kitchen window have taken shelter for the night.

There is a void, of movement.  And voices. Bickering. No, it’s more than that. Frustration. Hurt.

And fear.

It’s just me now.  And the light in the kitchen.

The humming of the dishwasher, the only sound. And the typing. My fingers anxiously willing the toxic emotions to leave my body. Even after retreating, hiding in the closet, trying to stop the madness with some words from the wise, closing my eyes tight and praying for God to please help…there are things that need to come out, that can only be released in written words. And I’m taken aback by this urge to express, following the temptation to lay on the floor next to the forgotten shoes and sleep. Sleep and forget.

At 7:15am this morning, the sun spewed orange fingers out over the fields behind our house and greeted us on our way to school. Sometimes my boys and I share prayers or music. Other times conversation. Rarely silence.

I said aloud, “Thank you Lord for the beautiful sunshine, new and different everyday!”

Then He held my hand, surging courage into my heart for an awkward conversation with a friend. He whispered love through my hands to care for two precious little girls while their mommy ran errands. And He surprised me with an extra boost of energy to go on an evening walk with a tummy full of fettuccine.

But then things went dim. Went sour. And like a shooting star, it was beautiful and then gone. All gone.

One word leads to two more words and quickly a barrage smacks me right up side the face. My son, the one who lays his head on my lap each night and asks me to run my fingers through his hair, he was in a mood. The sting of his words, familiar. Hauntingly familiar. Yet freshly painful every time. Repeating that “you don’t know what you’re talking about.” And so it goes.

Beautiful sunrise, happiness, and we almost made it to the finish line of this 24 hour period. It’s amazing how it all can change in a few confusing moments and make your heart go sick. Blind you from the days’ joys. Wipe it all away…seemingly.

This one small child can whip me with words so callous and condescending. And he doesn’t even know the meaning of condescending. It’s embarrassing, humiliating – but this repetitive dance with disrespect and degradation sends me cowering, desperate for an escape. It makes me fearful. Fearful of it’s power. Fearful that it will gain momentum and destroy everything in its path. Destroy me. And the lies loom large. Like a flash, for a moment, I’m believing that my son is an abuser and I am his victim. And I should just go to sleep, forever.

I check to see that all is clear. I step out of the closet. Under the door to my bedroom is a note. I read words seeking forgiveness, in the most simple child-like form. It’s far too innocent in comparison to the stabs he inflicted earlier.

The light is on in the hallway and I go in to my son’s room. He’s laying on his bed, looking spent, staring at the ceiling. A tear escapes his eye.

Again, the Lord takes my hand. He leads me to cross the bridge, close the gap, dry the tears. He reaffirms that His light will never fail to transform the darkness. Just a few words, and “I love you”, “Goodnight”, and I close my son’s door to end the day.

Now it’s just me. And the Light in the kitchen.

 

 

 

 

Success

image

On a recent Saturday morning as I left home to run some errands, I noticed an elderly man with a young boy, in a yard. It appeared he was explaining something to the boy, perhaps how to fix something.

In the brief moment that I was able to glance over at them while driving by, the symbolic picture of skills being transferred from one generation to the next was not lost on me.

The older gentleman, Mr. Martin, lives down the street from us. He was the man in the yard that day. He’s been turning plain ole wood into useful works of art and science for decades. He’s a teacher at my sons’ school – has been for 30+ years.

On that unseasonably warm Saturday morning, the first weekend of Spring break, he was spending time with his grandson, presumably. And Mr. Martin was doing what he had been doing for his entire adult life…teaching.

He started out teaching woodshop. I’ve heard him talk about how he misses the smell of the wood. Because technology has all but removed the actual handcrafting aspect of his classes and retooled them into “Engineering”.  My sons have both enjoyed their time in his classroom, as you would expect boys to.

Though his methods have drifted over the years, going from eliciting smiles from mother when junior brings home a carefully carved and stained napkin holder, to where we are now with translating a graphic design into a 3D printed model – Mr. Martin is still at it, introducing young minds to the world of engineering and manufacturing.

Many students over the years and presently, are taking the skills they’ve learned in Mr. Martin’s classes, along with the value he places on working with ones’ hands, and they are setting off into the wild blue yonder in productive, gratifying careers.

Success.

I hear this word often. And as many times as I hear it, exceeding that are the definitions. For doesn’t “success” have a different meaning in the eyes of each and every person?

Typically, the ideal picture of success, the desireable one, is painted with broad strokes of green. In other words…loads of cash. Yes, in many cases, material wealth is the byproduct of achievement, hard work, climbing the corporate ladder. But I want to recognize another form of success.

Living our purpose.

I imagine that Mr. Martin is living his purpose. And he’s happy doing so.

We can be sure of this: there is joy and satisfaction guaranteed when we find and fulfill our unique purpose.

Mr. Martin could’ve entered the workforce as a carpenter, worked in manufacturing, owned his own woodworking shop. He could’ve done a number of things with his skills. He missed out on having the world look at him and say, “That man is successful.”

Or did he?

I look at Mr. Martin and I see success.

He has a passion for what he does, and not just the trade of engineering. He had a desire to share his skills, his knowledge…his life, with our young people. In his work and personal life, he’s doing just that. He is successful.

The idea of success isn’t limited to the size of bank accounts, lofty titles or status. A person can be successful in circumstances that seem meager to others. In fact, success  is a relative term. Sometimes it’s a word used loosely to describe someone who seems to have arrived at a state that we ourselves are envious of. But that’s their story. And we’ll never feel “successful” until we live our own story.

Whether you’re juggling meetings and agendas or wiping noses and changing diapers – you can bask in “success.”

Mr. Martin chose how he would spend his life. He set out to do something, and he did it. The bonus here is: his selfless choice to teach spread the opportunities for success further than himself.

Success. It’s closer than you think.