Spare the Rod
by Samantha Trenkamp
This article was featured in the May/June 2014 printed edition of Daughters of Promise Magazine.
I remember when my siblings and I were little and we would race to the measuring wall to see how much we had grown. We were each always so pleased with our new, taller pencil mark. Our pleasure came in realizing how much further we had come since the last time we had backed up to the wall. “Look how much I’ve grown!” But it was when we turned around that we become dissatisfied. “Wow, look how much taller she is!” The new joy was diminished by hoping to be as tall as big sister. I measured the distance between us with little fingers and wondered how long it would take before I reached HER pencil mark. I’d stand against the wall again: “Am I as tall as her yet?”
And we are still eyeing the distance. We place ourselves in a sort of vacuumed reality of “If only’s…” If only we were thinner, if only we were thicker; if only we had Peggy’s blue eyes, but Peggy wants Lucy’s green; we wish for more friends, when we really just want someone else’s; we wish to do something big for God, when we really want the popularity of our peers. I read once from Leslie Ludy that she had always wanted to be tan, but on going to Mexico, she found that they coveted her fine, pale skin!
When have we finally “attained”? But then…do we ever really come to a point of completion We are always finding ourselves up against another woman who is seemingly “better” than us. Or so we feel.
Consider with me for a moment the giraffe, the world’s tallest land mammal. Now if this giraffe over here is shorter, or has less spots, than that other giraffe over there, does it make it any less of a giraffe? Of course not! We are neither less nor more than the next, but all equal in the eyes of Christ. This struggle with low self-esteem is more than skin deep. You may be a truly, uniquely beautiful woman in your features, and still be carrying that sense of a lack of purpose for your life. Your peers are going out and doing the heavy weight work for the Kingdom, or shaking the world; and you have been called to do the small tasks, the not-so-desirable things that help make all the “big” things go so much smoother. “Where do I come in, in the broad spectrum of life? What is there for me? Am I making a difference?”
Why do we give into these lies that we are somehow inferior? What makes us think that others are so far superior? Surely the Lord has gifted us with differing talents so as to make the Church Body function as, well…a body. (See 1 Corinthians 12:12-27) We should be thankful that we are different by design! My Grandmother always says that it takes “all kinds of people to make a world.” I don’t care to entertain the thought of a world full of ME’s! One of me is enough trouble! Our differences are what make us so radiantly beautiful, inside and out! If we all had blue eyes, we could never be delighted by the green.
If we all did the big tasks, who would do the small? Imagine our God as He dreams about who you will become, and as He thinks on your face He says, “Ah! Now this face needs a pair of beautiful brown eyes to make her perfect.” And as He plans for your life He thinks, “Yes, now that is a job only she can do for Me.”
No part of you is an accident; you have been (and continue to be) “fearfully and wonderfully made”. Everything about who you are, from your waist line to your individual personality, is just as He has designed you to be. To covet the shape, manners, or calling of another is to despise the Lord of glory who made you to be His glory just.as.you.are. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works…” –Ephesians 2:10
We struggle so with our self-image because we struggle with our basic identity. If we have not found consolation and contentment in the overwhelming love of our Savior toward us, as we are, then it would stand to reason that we would search for our identity in the faces and lives of those around us. And I guarantee you that the people who seem to have it all together have this same battle to fight as well. We all suffer from this identity crisis. And the cure is the same for all who accept it; for all who accept Him.
We are discontent with ourselves because we think we deserve more. We should strive to better ourselves, but it is our motive that needs searching. Who are we striving to be better for? Are we doing “all that we do for the glory of God”? Or are we trying to be more accepted, more acceptable? Physically we go to great lengths to try and attain an image we were never meant to portray; and we lay well made plans in an attempt to make ourselves feel more useful, more worthy. But there is no need for all of these empty strivings! We wear ourselves out trying to do when we are simply meant to be.
To be. That’s a stretch. To simply be…and be thankful.
Thankful for what? For you. For just you—and just as you are. You are Christ’s, you are perfect to Him, you are astoundingly beautiful to Him, you have been given tasks that were ordained as specific and perfectly designed for you so that you can give Jesus praise through these shoes He has fit for your walk with Him. (See Psalm 139).
There is glory that can only be revealed through you. It isn’t better than your sister’s, but it is a sculpture only you carve. We each have been handed a chisel with which to create something for God’s glory here on earth. Will we hand it back and tell the Lord that He has given us the wrong tool? That this task is too menial? Will we look on another, measure the distance, and tell our Lord that He made a few mistakes?
Spare the measuring rod. Live in such a way as to be a walking, breathing, praise and glory to this incredibly awesome Love; and you will be accepted of Him. You are accepted. Acceptable.