Thursday, 10 July 2014
Butterfly in the Shadow
Those of my friends who know me well, call me a story maker. Ever since I can remember I have woven stories around everything, whether it be animate or inanimate objects. Yesterday, as I went jogging, I noticed how the late afternoon sun was pulling long fingers of shadow across the tar. This image took me back to my childhood. I remember how I, as a little girl, would wait for that moment when the trees' long shadows would fall across our driveway as that was the sign that my dad would soon be coming home. I would then go outside to wait for him. While I waited for the blue Valiant to come around the corner, I would keep myself busy with the ants swarming all over the driveway. I was fascinated by how they would communicate, and how they would rally around a fellow ant when it suffered an injury. I would spin a whole series of stories around these tiny creatures on a daily basis. Each one had his own specific role to fulfill. Today I draw this observation into my own life. Since my younger daughter has left for university I have been questioning my purpose in life. I feel at odds with myself as I have built my life upon being an at home mommy, being there for my children at all times. Suddenly the nest is empty, and I ask myself what could my life possibly be worth now? Even more so after somebody asked me recently what on earth I keep myself busy with since I do not work and my reason for being at home has left the house. It is thus time to take stock. What is it that determines our worth as people? Is it how much money we make? Is it the powerful job we have, or the important position we have in the community? Are we worth more if we are famous or well-known? Is our worth judged by how many people we employ, or how many committees we serve upon? Sadly, these are the standards by which the world tends to judge our worth, and we fall into this same trap to judge our own worth which in turn leads to depression as most of us are just ordinary people living ordinary lives. Yet, it is in our ordinary-ness that we are actually spectacular and so terribly unique. Each one of us has been created by God in such a unique way that there will never again be somebody with my or your own unique DNA blueprint. We are not mere accidents or co-incidences. We are part of God's perfect plan. In this very fact lies our worth. Each one of us has our own special place in life which cannot be replaced by another. Only I can love my children the way I do, only I know their needs, their likes and their dreams like I do. Long after they are mothers themselves I will still be their mother. The same is true for the niche I move in. Quite often we are not even aware of the impact we have on the people around us. Sometimes we touch them with a mere smile or a simple kindness. Maybe a word of advice or encouragement changes the course of their lives. Many people wait their whole life for a chance to do something great or noteworthy, something spectacular that books could be written about, but the reality is that most of us will never experience that moment. However, every day we are surrounded by small opportunities to make a difference, yet often we are so busy waiting for something big to happen that we miss these insignificant, but such important, opportunities. God calls us for a specific purpose. Some people are called to go great places, while most of us are called to be great where we are, to bloom in our own garden. My responsibility is to be totally present in my own life, and to live this life entrusted to me to my fullest potential, to do wholeheartedly just what I am able to do, to be true to the gifts and talents God has endowed upon me. Just as a child is an ambassador of his family, so I am an ambassador of the One who created me. My worth has much less to do with how great I am, but has to do with how great God is in my life.
A last thought: is a beautiful butterfly less beautiful in the shadow than in the sunlight? No, his beauty remains the same, he is just less visible, we just have to look harder to see him, but when we do see him his beauty takes our breath away. Maybe you are that butterfly, or maybe little miss Plain down the street is that shadowy flyer, but when you start looking you'll see just how beautiful her wings are even in the shadows. Maybe it's time to develop the eyes to see our own worth, but also the worth of the other ordinary people around us instead of being blinded by those in the limelight. Then we will notice the colours of the butterfly in the shadows.
If you flutter by here please leave a comment or a snippet of encouragement. I would love to hear from you.
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Thank you for this post. I have been an attorney for 11 years when due to health reasons I had to quit. My daughter was then 12 years and my son 2. Suddenly I realized what I missed being at home with them, especially with my daughter. Today 10 years later, I do not miss the corporate world at all and revel in my family life. I even help to coach Little League!
And you are right, there are beautiful butterflies in the shadows!