I’m a bull in a china shop. A klutz. Growing up my mother recommended charm school. Perhaps she was kidding. Perhaps not. I rolled my eyes back then and to this day I’ve wondered if charm school really is a thing. Our compromise resulted in some dance lessons.
The Dance Lessons
I did enjoy dance, but I think it was ” The Fine Dance Studio”, appropriately named, that made me like it. My friend’s mother transformed their home to accommodate us dance prodigies. The Great Room, before open concept was common, was GREAT with glossy polished hardwood floors. The room smelled of lilac, because everyone knows dancers don’t sweat, they glisten with violette eau de parfum.
The dance floor was flanked on one side by a massive plate glass window framing the serene pastures of the Meyer’s Dairy farm. The other wall had floor to ceiling mirrors, broken up by one solitary ballet bar. Mrs. Fine, an accomplished dancer, was an even more accomplished encourager. When I shut my eyes and think of my dance days, it’s Mrs. Fine’s voice that I hear first. “Luuuuvely, beauuuutiful, stunnnnning, maaaaaavalous”. Even us klutzy dancers received her praise. Each class ended with a delicious mug of homemade apple cider clinching our desire to return in a week. But let’s be honest, my dance career barely made it through middle school.
Foot in Mouth
My klutziness wasn’t limited to my feet. Not to be outdone, my mouth would get in the way too. I have stuck my foot deep into my mouth on plenty of occasions. There was the time during coffee hour as the brand new minister’s wife when I met Judy. Judy was a pleasant fifty – ish woman. While we were conversing, a woman with her likeness except much older, joined us. “And this must be your mother” I said, with the conversational skill of an oaf. You guessed it, it was Judy’s sister. YOUNGER sister. Ouch. The conversation moved on to hair and the importance of going natural. They were both gracious, but I would have preferred that the floor open up and swallow me.
And there was the time when chatting with a bunch of girlfriends about God’s timing. I mentioned how excited but inconvenienced I was to get pregnant with Ian. At 33 and newly married, I was warned how long it could take. I wanted to get pregnant in a year or so. Instead it happened in a blink. Here I was complaining to a group of women, one of which was in the midst of expensive and heart wrenching IVF. I might as well have had INSENSITIVE LOSER emblazoned across my forehead.
I like this advice… THINK before you speak.
A SOFTER HEART
In this Christmas season, due to my less than typical circumstances, my sensitivity seems keener. Perhaps it’s because my skin is thinner. I feel more. I notice more. And the bonus, I have a softer heart towards others. Coming from my bull in a china shop beginnings, this surprises me. And I credit the Lord. Another example of how he uses all things for His purposes. Romans 8:28
She meant nothing by it. It seemed so very harmless and others reacted in complete agreement. From her vantage point it was understandable. I would have been right there with her had Ian’s accident not happened. She was whining about her impending empty nest. She joked about how she wanted to house her soon to graduate son in her basement until he was forty. I completely understood her sentiment. Her kids had moved out and she missed the familiarity of what was. This new chapter was challenging the identity she knew as Lauren and Mark’s mom.
Isn’t it just like us humans to want what we don’t have. I have straight hair, and would love some curls. I’m short and would love to be taller. I’m having to parent my adult son and covet my peers who get to enjoy an empty nest.
There, I said it. I want what you have. I’m teased into thinking …aw yes. An empty nest, that would make the difference.
The Grass is Greener
The grass is greener thinking is a subtle ploy satan uses. It keeps us dissatisfied. It keeps us wanting what we don’t or can’t have. It keeps us focused on what we lack instead of grateful for what we have. It is the quickest route to discontentment.
From my experience, when you’re going through tough stuff, joyous Christmas merriment has a way of making things tougher. Almost like a spotlight shining down on that green grass of your neighbor pointing out your deepest longings. We feel exposed. Our once thick skin, becomes paper thin.
I don’t like feeling fragile. I don’t like my vulnerability in the face of my bull in a china shop well meaning friends. Frankly, I would prefer to return to my bull days instead of being where I am now, the fragile china plate.
But God has brought me here. Sensitive. Fragile. Vulnerable. Softened. And seeking Him with all my heart. What now God? This is new territory. What do I do with this?
2 Corinthians 1:3,4 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
He has impressed upon me that it’s my chance to bring compassion to another. And I am blessed in the process. Amazingly my own disappointment doesn’t sting nearly as much and I see that green grass for what it is… a temporary substitute this side of heaven.
To my bull friends…. THINK before you speak. I expect one day you may be that fragile china plate.
To my fellow china plates…. Resist that grass is greener lie. Instead take the comfort and compassion the Lord has granted you and pass it forward. Because of your struggle you bring a unique hope. You’ve earned the credibility to understand like others often can’t.
I love how Lysa Terkhurst puts it in her book It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way
“The compassionate soul who has hurt deeply and has come out loving, YES, she is one of the super stars of Gods grand story AND she’s the one you want near you in the battles of life. She wears well the scars of suffering and can’t wait to tell you her survival story so you too can survive.”
I must go. I have my marching orders.