Sitting at the dinner table a few nights ago, the most interesting conversation erupted.
Apparently my son Alex (who has a crazy creative mind) had managed to rope several classmates into helping him write a comic book. Since he can’t write or draw, he enlisted his troops to help him with the fine motor skill tasks, while he generated plot lines, characters and ideas.
One of his superheroes is a woman (I can’t remember her name because I didn’t really listen to the whole comic book download, can you blame me?) whose super power is….
Squats. Right. She squats like a champ and lifts heavy stuff. (Gym class for inspiration? why not?!) Squat-girl anyone? (Maybe not a bestseller?)
Anyhow, he had been looking at women to see if their legs were strong, and so he told us at the dinner table about one lady who he admired deeply because her legs were strong and large.
He wanted to go and tell her– and we had (unfortunately) to tell him that not everyone would take his kind gesture as kindness. That some women were very sensitive about their bodies, and that the media hasn’t always been kind to portraying the wonder of a women’s body.
So he asked me: “Mom- do you feel bad about your body?” and I answered: “Sometimes, yes.”
He replied: “Dad- I just feel like I want to shake her– doesn’t she have an sense at all? Can’t she see she is beautiful?”
I smiled, hugged and thanked him and we moved on.
So I thought.
Later that night, he and Olivia were in the car on the way to dance class, as we were chatting, Olivia brought up the dinner conversation.
She quietly said “Guys. Sometimes I feel like I don’t stand out, like I’m not fast enough, smart enough, good enough, pretty enough or strong enough.”
I thought Alex might blow a gasket on the spot. He is so sweet!
So, I quickly asked the Lord for guidance (He’s always there for me, always!) and He answered immediately!
We were just driving past an entire BLOCK planted with the most BRILLIANT red maple trees ever! There was a whole long row of them all the very same stunning shade of red!
We oooed and awwwed, and then I asked the kids: “Hey kids. Do you think these trees would be as pretty, or spectacular or noticed if ALL the trees were red, tall and stunning?”
“What makes them so amazing to see is that there are so many trees around them to HELP them stand out. If there were no pine trees, no walnut trees, no cedars or birch then they just wouldn’t be as unique.”
“You are like a maple tree. You stand out because you are you, special, and incredibly beautiful- but never forget that it is the other trees that help make you so. It’s a team- a forest effort. You owe your strength, your beauty, your smartness, your goodness to the the people around you who by being who they are, allow you to shine. And more than anything, you owe your awesomeness to your Creator who made you to be this beautiful.”
“Don’t forget to say thanks to Him and help the trees around you shine too.”
Olivia sat there stunned for a moment, and then beamed. “Mom. That’s exactly how it is. I am me. And I am different than the other kids, but not better. We all have something amazing to share, to be. ”
All the way home from dance I mulled over this thought: that so much of life is about trying to be someone else. Trying to minimize that part of us we don’t like. Trying to shine when we don’t need to. Not understanding our value and worth, and not taking deep pleasure in seeing how we make the people around us shine.
I thought about how the maples are really stealing the show right now- bright, bold and incredible!
But in the spring? It’s the tulips, the hyacinth and the crocus who give us joy, hope and excitement.
If the maple trees sat around trying to be tulips in the spring, they would miss being spectacular bringers of pumpkin spice lattes, cool autumn walks, and many Sunday afternoon autumn drives.
If the tulips made an effort right now, they would use up all the energy they’ve stored for the next spring, and would pale beside the trees. It would be so wasteful and tragic.
There are seasons my friends. Moments for you to shine, like a maple. And there are seasons where your “ordinary-ness” is ESSENTIAL for others to shine. The world needs beauty, originality, hope and change and steadiness, gentleness and admirers.
We all have seasons to be the bringers of joy- and we have seasons to admire, celebrate, grow and delight when others are the joy-carriers.
But make no mistake: all are beautiful. All are needed. All have purpose. And are all special.
“For we (ALL OF US!) are GOD’S handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Today, look around. If you are shining, keep on shining, and be thankful for the people all around you helping you shine! We need your season as surely as we need spring and autumn and summer and winter.
If it’s not your season right now – look around and see if you can support, help and grow along side some one else who is in a shining season. Your time will come.
The maples always turn red and we love them every fall. The tulips always bloom in the spring, and bring us hope and fresh life.
Be who you are meant to be in this season. And love the seasons the people around you are in. We need each other.