Thursday, May 4, 2017

Seamstress or Songstress?

How do you figure out who you were created to be? It's a hard question to answer when you're young and even when you're old.

Recently I found an autobiography I wrote back in high school. Now that I'm 51 years old, I see life so differently than the teenage girl who wrote that. This excerpt from it evoked a sudden, deep belly laugh.

"I am not good at door to door witnessing, but if I could have my own home and bake things for the hungry and sew things for the needy people, and concentrate on one group of people for the sake of Jesus; my children, I would be happy. I would have my children with me and could concentrate on raising them to love God."

My mother and her bread!
Mother & I in the kitchen.
I can see the influence of my mother all over that paragraph. She loved making a home for us children. That's the picture she painted for me out of her own giftedness. She was a grand cook, seamstress, gardener and mother.

But when I'd slice my mother's freshly baked bread, I'd cut the slices into deformed shapes and mess up the rest of the loaf. (You have to cut a second slice to straighten the first.) I couldn't even do it right the second time. I still smile and think of her when I cut a crooked slice and can feel her smiling at my inability to slice bread.

A rabbit I made.
I don't know how I did it!
I tried to sew but I wasn't nearly as good as she was and I'd quickly get frustrated. 

That idealistic description of my high-school-self was a direct reflection of who my mother was and what she was good at. Not who I am.

Recently I spent some time with a friend who just turned 70. I've started asking my older friends what reflections they'd have for younger folks. This particular friend paused for a moment and then spoke thoughtfully: "you start to become comfortable with who you are and you don't have to try to be anything or anyone else."

I spent much of my life trying to be all that my mother was and that's not all bad, but it took me a long time to figure out who I really am, apart from her. I finally discovered something; I DO sew and cook.

I sew lyrics and melodies together providing garments of joy and laughter for people when they listen to the tunes. I marinate thoughts and truths in my slow-cooker brain and serve up hope in creative ways for people to sit and partake of food for their soul. So I guess you could say that I have the same gifts as my mother - they just express themselves in different ways.

It can take a long time to figure out who you really are and what you're really good at, but the journey is worth it and it's part of the pleasure of growing older. If you still find yourself trying to be what others are (or think you should be), hang in there. Life and time have a way of helping you figure out who you really are.

  • Pray often - asking God to lead you on this journey - spend time listening for His leading
  • Look for clues from your childhood - what did you love to do when you were young
  • What did other people tell you that you were good at? (maybe they still tell you)
  • Experiment - try new things

As you age, you'll see clues from childhood that point you in the right direction. Through years of living and hours of prayer, you begin to find a groove and rhythm to who you are as a person, and then you can sit back, enjoy the creation God made you to be and not care about anything else.

And when you reach that point, you feel very free.