I have this friend who’s just amazing.
She homeschools her three children, each one a paragon of academic excellence as well as expertise in a specialized area. One is a gifted pianist and artist; another spends his free time designing intricate and baffling engineering projects; and the youngest, at age five, already reads flawlessly. In addition to raising prodigies, my friend also creates perfect French braids, bakes bread every week, speaks three languages, and plays piano for various chamber ensembles…superbly, of course. Everything she does, she does well.
Another friend of mine also astounds me. She works from home, and spends several days a week helping with or leading various ministries in her church. Because one of her children has Cerebral Palsy, she devotes a large portion of every day to physical therapy, as well as helping him with basic tasks most of us take for granted. Somehow, though, she still manages to keep her house clean enough that she can regularly open her home for Bible studies, Girls’ Nights, pool parties, or one-on-one time with those of us who need a friend and know she will listen intently and advise lovingly. She has an incredible heart.
There’s this other friend who blows me away, too. She had a difficult upbringing, and got pregnant at fifteen. Despite unsupportive family members, she kept her baby, yet still succeeded in completing high school. Now, as a married mother of four, she works part-time, takes care of the household finances, cooking, and cleaning, and dedicates all of her remaining time and energy to playing with her kids, cheering them on at soccer games, and teaching them about Jesus’ love for them. Although she faces ongoing challenges with extended family, she meets them with grace, and, as far as I can tell, serves as the glue holding them together. Her strength inspires me to face the challenges in my own life.
I could go on…but I’ll mention just one more person. She struggles to keep her house in order, and hasn’t fully managed to teach her kids to do it either. While she likes to plan fun and educational activities for her kids, she can never quite get on top of things, and often ends up just taking them to the playground or the library again. Although her efforts to be a good mom require most of her physical and emotional resources, she often feels like she doesn’t quite cut it…yet, by now, she doesn’t feel like she’s too great at anything else anyway. The funny thing is, her friends don’t see her that way. Actually, they think it’s pretty cool that she cooks family dinners from scratch (even though the ingredients are from the grocery store, not homegrown); that she runs (even though she’s, like, NOT fast); and that she plays piano (adequately, but she’s hardly a professional).
I know all this because, of course, I am this person. I can so easily see and acknowledge what is distinctive and admirable in those around me, but dismiss as insignificant what is good in myself. And yet…God has designed everyone differently, and has laid out a unique path for each of us. When I consider the friends described above, what I admire, fundamentally, is not their accomplishments; it’s the grace and strength with which they walk the paths they’ve each been given.
So here’s what I want you to remember. Each of the people I mentioned would describe herself as ordinary. Wishes, in fact, that she could do better at this, that, or the other thing. But I know the truth…because I gain inspiration and encouragement just from knowing them, and they are precious to me. Maybe you, too, feel quite ordinary; you simply muddle through from one day to the next. There’s a good chance, though, that those who know and love you see things very differently. They might be looking at you and wondering how you do it all.
In fact, you know what? They just might think that you are amazing.