Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Thoughts on Being the YOU God Made You to Be

Hi Friends,

The wildflowers are in bloom at last, which means Jayna's been picking loads of dandelions to give to me every time she plays outside.

I love that, because her little squished dandelions remind me of how God once used dandelions and daffodils to teach me to be who He created me to be. It happened like this:

It wasn’t the knife. Or the bread. Or the cucumber, or cream cheese. It was me. I knew it. But I wasn’t ready to admit it. At least not yet. I can do this, I told myself. I can be the fancy-tea-party hostess, just like Debbie!

I took a deep breath, placed the knife ever so carefully over the cucumber sandwich, and pushed. Surely this time I would make a perfect, neat triangle. But alas, my cut was crooked, a cucumber slipped out, and a bubble of cream cheese oozed over the side of the squashed-looking bread.

The knife clattered into the sink. Who was I kidding, thinking I could host a fancy tea party for the church? How in the world did I ever let them talk me into this? To me, a sandwich was either peanut butter and jelly slapped between two pieces of bread, or a fat subway picked up from the local deli counter. I’d never even seen a cucumber sandwich until I’d been to one of Debbie’s elegant tea parties a few months before. So, how could I possibly turn myself into a Debbie-like hostess in just a few short hours?

My husband, Bryan, walked through the kitchen door just as I retrieved the knife from the sink. He looked from me to the stack of coin-sized cucumbers beside me. “What in the world are you doing?”

I straightened my shoulders. “Making sandwiches for the high tea I’m putting on this afternoon.”

“High tea?” His eyebrows rose. “You?”

I pointed my knife at him. “Don’t you dare laugh!”

He made an admirable attempt, but in the end the laugh came out anyway. “You’re kidding, right?”

“Does it look like I’m kidding?”

His gaze wandered over the pile of misshapen sandwich wedges. “Are they supposed to look like that?”

I picked up a baking pan and aimed.

Wisely, Bryan quick-stepped out of the room. I could still hear him chuckling as he opened the front door and headed toward the garage.

I tried one more sandwich – and failed – before I, too, escaped outside. There, a blanket of purple, red, and orange wildflowers bloomed over our property. And mixed among the colors were graceful yellow flowers that looked like daffodils. They would be perfect for a centerpiece bouquet for my tea party. I trotted down the steps and began to pick a few of the long-stemmed flowers. As I did, I noticed several dandelions scattered among the other blossoms. I picked one and twirled it in my fingers. It was yellow like the daffodil, but as far removed in elegance as I was from Debbie.

And yet, as my fingers brushed the soft face, I saw that there was a beauty in the dandelion too. God created it the way it was. And if you turned it just right, it reflected the sun’s rays.
I tucked the blossom into a buttonhole on my shirt and gazed out over the field scattered with flowers. Each, I noticed, was just as God made it to be. The purple flowers didn’t pretend to be orange. The red didn’t masquerade as purple. And the dandelions certainly didn’t try to impersonate daffodils.

In that moment, Ephesians 4:11-12 (NIV) came to mind: “It was [God] who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers . . . so that the body of Christ may be built up.” It was then that I finally admitted that I’d never turn into a daffodil. So, perhaps, I should just try to be the best dandelion I could be and not let myself or others try to make me feel I should be something I'm not. Too often we try force ourselves, or force others, into a mold that is not of God's making. Is every parent cut out for children's ministry? No. Is every pastor's wife made to sing? No (...and if you've ever heard me ... yikes!). Is every mother Martha Stewart? Not hardly. Should they be?

Maybe, instead of feeling guilt over not being someone else's ideal (or our own), the important thing is that each of us, like the dandelion, reflect the light of the Son who gave us life.

So, after I gathered a few more flowers, I returned to the house. There, I arranged the blossoms in a vase, and, just for fun, tucked my dandelion inconspicuously into the center. Debbie, of course, would never have a dandelion in her daffodils. But I wasn’t Debbie. And I didn’t need to be. I just needed to be faithful to God and to the person he made me to be. With a final look at my little dandelion, I headed out to the deli to pick up some less-than-fancy sandwiches for my not-so-high tea.