I recently had my feelings crushed by a friend with good intentions and bad timing. I shared a personal story with her and in response, she shared a personal criticism of me. The criticism was valid. But that never really matters, does it?
I used to drink and eat when I felt sad or confused, but now I pray and write. And eat. So I dragged my bag of chips and heavy heart upstairs to the computer that day. This is what I came up with:
Each of us, at our essence, is a beautiful bouquet of flowers … God living in us. Unfortunately, if we’re brave enough to offer our bouquet to the world, we have no other choice but to present it in the cracked vase that is our own self and has seen better days.The world has knocked us around, and has left some of us a little chipped and others in pieces on the floor. Miraculously, regardless of the degree of damage to our vase, our bouquet remains unscathed… as pristine and breathtakingly perfect as the day God gave it to us, on our first day. So when my neighbor offers me her bouquet why do I notice the imperfect instead of the perfect? Why do I need to see the broken instead of the unbreakable? Why can’t I see the bouquet for the vase? Is it because I think if I focus on how broken her vase is, she might not notice that mine is shattered?And am I even aware that all the while I am missing out on the beauty, the offering, the blessing of her bouquet? Each time I point out her cracked vase I suggest that maybe her bouquet would be better back there on the shelf, where not so many people will see it. And she starts to doubt that she ever even had a bouquet…she remembers that she’s just a cracked up old vase after all. That’s all she’s ever been, really.
I am going to ask God to show me the bouquet instead of the vase.I want to see and respond to the flowers, and to say thank you to the neighbors who offer them. Because it’s so brave to keep offering your bouquet, what with being so cracked and all. It’s like showing up at a bridal shower out of love for your friend even though you’ve spilled a latte in your lap in the car, and it appears that you’ve peed yourself. So brave.Then maybe, if my neighbor asks, I’ll try to help her patch up her vase a bit…make it a little stronger, to hold in more water and keep her bouquet fresh…but only if she asks. Otherwise I’ll just thank her for her courage and tell her how beautiful, colorful, and perfect her flowers are. How they, like everyone else’s, are the most beautiful flowers I’ve ever seen, and how they made my day. Then, if I’m feeling brave enough, and she has time….I’ll offer her mine. And I’ll ask God to shine the light on his bouquet instead of my cracked vase. And He will, but maybe he’ll also remind us both, my neighbor and I, that the cracks are where the light sneaks out. And in.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
2 Corinthians 4 7-9