I walked onto our church’s stage for my first practice as part of our youth group choir. “Alto,” said the pianist, who had taught my sixth-grade choir group the year before.
I felt a bit left out as I sat on the front row while most of my friends joined the ranks of sopranos behind me. I remember thinking that my teacher didn’t think my voice was as good as my friends’ voices. But now years later, I love singing alto and finding the harmony in songs, and I know that while I’ll likely never be a soloist (which is fine with me), that doesn’t mean my role as an alto is less important than someone else’s role in the choir.
As a single woman now officially in my 30s, I again sometimes feel left out as I attend friends’ baby or bridal showers. Sitting through another woman-to-woman devotional centered around the callings of marriage and motherhood that very well may never apply to my life…well, I don’t always have the best attitude about it.
So much variety
This year I memorized 1 Peter 4:7-11 after about a year of lazily putting it off. “As each has received a gift,” Paul wrote, “use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” Varied grace. The context here is how believers are equipped to serve the church. But I think even in other areas the principle holds true: God’s grace is varied. Diverse. His work in one person’s life may look different from another person’s, but it is no less grace.
Jesus told us that our Father knows how to give good gifts. I don’t think that’s what we get hung up on, though. We wonder if God will give good gifts to us. Clearly there are other people who receive His good gifts. But what about us?
The Bible makes it clear that God cares for each of His children: The Bible describes God as our Father, our Shepherd, and our Friend — all illustrative pictures of His overwhelming love for His people. “God will fulfill His purpose for me,” David wrote. We can confidently know the same is true for us.
All I already have
But there’s more.
In another, deeper way, even if we have a life full of hardship during our earthly life, we all have already been given the richest gifts we could ever hope to possess. God has given us “every spiritual blessing,” even now, in the middle of our disappointments, our failings, our frustrations, our very imperfect lives. It’s ours. We already have it. No matter what we face each day, those who are God’s people are blessed. But how can we remind ourselves of this when our disappointments or left-out feelings feel so much bigger? Here are a few ideas.
Pray for eyes to see. When I’m looking at life noticing only what I don’t have, it’s a pretty myopic view. It isn’t wrong to pray for something we desire, but are we also praying for God to open our eyes to see what we do have? What is already ours?
Read stories of others’ lives. We should read about people who have stories or struggles similar to ours, to be reminded we’re not alone. But we should also read about others who aren’t like us, to remember that God’s family may face different circumstances, but that doesn’t make us more or less God’s people. A few ideas to start off: Corrie ten Boom. Phillis Wheatley. Wu Baoying. C.S. Lewis. These are all people who lived very different lives under very varied circumstances, but they are all some of God’s blessed people. All part of the choir we will one day join.
Talk to other people. It really doesn’t do us any good to avoid people because we want what they have. There can be a place for space, but sometimes it’s time to let love for and interest in others overpower our interest in our own wants. As we talk to others, we’ll see more about others’ struggles, realizing we aren’t the only ones with difficulties. I guarantee you that even the person who has exactly the life you think you want also has their own hardships.
Make a list. I recently came across a single friend’s social media post about things she has been able to do that she has always wanted to do. Even though she has been clear that she would like to be married, she took the time to share a list (of over 20 things!) that she was grateful she has been able to experience. Sometimes we have to be intentional about recognizing the gifts we’ve received.
“Have fun,” C.S. Lewis supposedly once said, “even if it’s not the same kind of fun everyone else is having.” Regardless of what I tell myself at my friends’ showers, God doesn’t divide His people into the blessed and blessed-nots. Even if I never have the life I expected, I already have life abundant. And the assurance that no matter what is around the next bend, I’m already a blessed child of my God.
Copyright 2022 Lauren Dunn. All Rights Reserved.