So, I have a recipe for a super good pumpkin roll. My sister gave it to me years ago. It takes quite a while to make and it tastes really good. Really good. It looks beautiful and festive, but ya gotta be careful or it just doesn’t quite look like a “roll”, but more like a bit of a flop. My family has had to ‘sacrifice’ eating the pumpkin “flops”. In years past, I’ve given the delicious pumpkin rolls to friends and family around the holidays.
But here’s an interesting tidbit of information. Guess who else makes pumpkin rolls? Little Debbie. Yep. “She” makes little tiny pumpkin rolls. And they are delicious. Dare I say even more delicious than my pumpkin roll! Yep. It’s the truth. The filling is lighter and creamier and it’s perfectly “rolled”. And while I’m confessing about my baking skills being ‘one-upped’, I may as well mention that I used to make brownies from scratch. But no more. Do you know who makes better more chocolatey brownies than me? Betty Crocker. Yep. “She” does. It takes 1/3 of the time and tastes better than mine. Mine turned out differently every time, but hers? They are consistently the same. Perfect (as long as I don’t forget to follow directions. That’s another topic!)
While I’m at it, there’s one more very obvious baker in my life who can put my cakes to shame. It’s my sister-in-law. She makes the most beautiful cakes ever. I remember the first time I realized that my cakes weren’t quite up to par in comparison to hers. It was on the birthday weekend when my son first turned one year old. I had made a yellow layer cake with chocolate icing and lots of sprinkles. Of course, it had two candles…one for his first year and “one to grow on”. I was proud of the little masterpiece and he enjoyed it like every one year old should. Well, then we went to his aunt’s house. She had a beautiful cake waiting. Absolutely beautiful. It was a clown cake, no less. And that little guy who had learned to walk reached up and couldn’t resist getting some icing on his little hand. Was too cute. Needless to say, we all enjoyed the delicious, beautiful clown cake that my sister-in-law made.
So, here’s the thing. I think sometimes we women feel like we have to do it all. Like we have to be the best or something. At everything. And if we’re not? Jealousy and envy creep in and sour the beautiful things in our relationships, the beautiful things in our lives. We have these standards that we feel like we have to live by, and then we compare ourselves to our neighbor, or our co-worker, or our friends or family member. And here’s the thing that I’m learning. We need to remember that we all have different gifts. Betty Crocker and Little Debbie might be great at baking pumpkin rolls and brownies, but …but maybe “they” can’t do some of the things that I do. Can they write a song…or teach a learning disabled student to read? Sometimes, we’re so busy looking at others gifts that we forget our own.
Life is so short. I’ve passed the half-century mark this past year. (My assistant at school reminded me of this and we laughed, but I sure didn’t like the way it sounded.) But it’s important to remember that the years go fast. They go so fast. Our minutes turn to days, turn to years, then turn to lifetimes. What we do with our time, with our gifts, makes such a difference. God has created each one of us with different gifts. He gives us gifts to build community, to draw people to Him, to change our world by being a reflection of Him. What’s so cool is when we appreciate other people’s gifts, we can enjoy the fruits of their labor. When we stop trying to be this or that, we can truly look to using our own gifts and being the person that God created us to be. His will in our lives is so much better than what we could ever imagine. He has purpose in our lives. If we don’t seek Him with our gifts and talents, we miss out on so much, and so do others. It’s like there’s a missing piece in the puzzle if we’re not using the gifts that He gives us. A missing piece that makes the picture, the community, incomplete.
I remember as a young mom meeting in a Bible Study with dear friends. They were awesome people. They wanted to be good moms, raise their children to love the Lord, and serve Christ in their homes, churches, and communities. But there were times when comparisons and differing views would creep in. Homeschooling versus public school. Staying home versus working. What to allow or not allow children to do, to play, to do. I can remember looking to the left and right and feeling…despair at times. They were all very gifted women, but we were all gifted in different ways. My home wasn’t always what I wanted it to be for my husband and I had such differing views on things. I was committed to my marriage, to raising my children as I knew best, but sometimes, in the company of others, I just felt like such a failure. I loved my home, but it wasn’t Martha Stewart-y because it had 6 precious little ones running around all day. I can remember wanting to have family devotions, but my husband barely came to church half the time. I remember many a Sunday, bringing the six little ones to church, and saving the end seat for him. I was fine as long as I didn’t look to the left or the right too much. But when I did, despair would sometimes creep in. And when I was focused on my short-comings, or just falling short of whatever image I was comparing myself to, well, I couldn’t be aware of what others needs around me are.
So again, here’s the thing. We need each other. Women, sisters, friends,…we need each other. What a beautiful thing when we can embrace the gifts each other has and enjoy them. What if we really jumped into each others lives using the gifts that we’ve been given? What if we helped clean each other’s homes… and allowed each other to see the yuck and then helped to clean it up? Division comes when we compare, for pride and insecurities (which seem to ironically go hand in hand) builds walls. Community comes when gifts are shared and used. It doesn’t just take people being willing to use their gifts, it takes the humility of people being willing to accept, to need, to share.
I love how I Corinthians 12 speaks of the Body of Christ. It gives the visual of how we all have different gifts, and when used together, it’s like a well-oiled machine at work. When we use our gifts, and allow others to use theirs without condemning them for not looking like us, well, there’s community. The Body of Christ works when the feet do the walking, the mouth does the talking, the heart does the pumping, and the eyes do the seeing. He designed the body perfectly, and He designed the Body of Christ perfectly as well. We each have an integral part, a purpose. It wouldn’t be too great if a foot tried to do the talking or an ear tried to do the talking. I think sometimes, when we try to be what we’re not, we may look as ridiculous as mouth trying to be an eye or an ear trying to be a hand. It just doesn’t work. But when we each do our part? It’s a masterpiece of community.
So, here’s to the Betty Crockers and Little Debbies, Martha Stewarts and Aunt Rhondas of this world. I salute you and so enjoy the fruits of your labor…and your brownies and pumpkin rolls. And I…am trying to contribute in my own little way, with whatever gifts I have…knowing that in God’s view, in His Creation, nothing is insignificant. We bring our widows mite, our two cents to Him, and He multiplies the efforts and blesses. Because, bottom line, we are merely vessels. Some of us may like be decorative vessels that others admire. Some may be like clay pots that are used for the most ordinary of tasks. But bottom line, all of us are molded as clay by hands of a Creator who knows the use for which we were designed. All of us are needed. All of us are treasured. What pours out of us depends on what we allow in. May we fill our heart, our mind, our spirit, with the Truth that comes from a Loving Creator who knows us better than we know ourselves and who created us to draw others to Him. For as 2 Corinthians 4 says, the all-surpassing power comes from Him, not us. We are merely vessels. And vessels are important. What is poured into vessels is important. Because it becomes what is poured out. (Oh, and if it isn’t poured out, it probably stagnates and stinks. Just saying.) So, yes, what is poured in to those vessels is important. What is poured out is important, and can be a great blessing to those around us. Just like that coffee that I just had? It went perfectly with that Little Debbie pumpkin roll. And no, I will never be able to bake like Betty Crocker and Little Debbie, but I am thankful that I can enjoy what “they” bring to the table. Here’s to celebrating each other’s gifts and the uniqueness and beauty of what each of us brings to the table.
“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile jars of clay containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, and not ourselves.”
2 Corinthians 4:7