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I was squashed between kindergarteners in the school cafeteria several years ago when my 6-year-old son, Joshua, made an announcement that gave me the giggles. I hid my mouth behind a napkin to cover my smirk and realized that at one point in my life, my son’s innocent words would have spawned tears instead of chuckles.
It started when the little boy next to me lifted a sandwich out of his lunch box.
“That’s huge!” Joshua exclaimed as he poked at the lukewarm carrots on his cafeteria tray and gazed longingly at his classmate’s lunch.
The sandwich was big. Oversized slabs of cheese and slices of ham nestled between two thick slices of bread. I wondered how much cash it would take to talk a kindergartner into trading his mealtime masterpiece for my soggy sloppy joe.
“Can you even get that in your mouth?” I teased as my lunch companion freed his sandwich from plastic wrap and lifted the culinary sensation to his mouth.
“I’m used to big bread,” he replied. “It’s my mom’s specialty.”
Joshua raised an eyebrow and studied the specimen in his classmate’s hands. “You mean your mom makes the bread you eat?”
The little fellow nodded happily.
My son looked at me with wide-eyed wonder, then shrugged his shoulders and replied, “Oh, my mom’s specialty is burnt bread.”
I nodded in agreement. “If the crust’s not charred, the bread’s not ours,” I said with a laugh.
The sandwich muncher beside me didn’t even blink at my corny rhyme, but Joshua applauded me with a big smile.
Soon a bell announced the lunch hour’s end, and the kindergarteners hurried to line up for recess. My brown-haired boy waved and marched off to the playground, leaving me alone with my speckled pink cafeteria tray, a mound of lukewarm carrots and a smile.
There was a time when my young son’s honesty would have left me feeling second-rate. I would have raced to the library to check out a book on baking homemade bread. Or sacrificed my sleep and sanity to stay up all night looking for online tips for consummate break bakers.
But somewhere along this jagged journey of growing into the woman God’s created me to be, I’ve learned that I miss all sorts of sacred and significant moments when I live with the frantic insistence that I can do it all. When I’m striving to be good at all things, I miss the joy of small things….
The toothless grin of the boy who is munching that burnt bread.
The beauty of the sunrise over my flailing potted plants.
The laughter of the children who run across my can’t-seem-to-keep-clean floors.
You see, the truth for bread-burning mamas like me sitting in school cafeterias and for treasured Christ-followers like you sitting in mini-vans, corporate offices and rocking chairs is this: God doesn’t ask us to be good at all things. He just asks us to be excellent at one thing–being exactly who we are created to be.
Romans 12:5-6 reminds us:
“So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.” (The Message)
Do you hear the sound of sweet freedom ringing out in these two little verses?
We weren’t created to do all things with perfection; but to do our thing with purpose.
We’ve been placed on the stage of this spinning globe to play one small role in a gigantic Kingdom tale. And if we spend our lives trying to mimic everyone else’s script, we might miss the lines that are uniquely ours.
I’m learning that in order to relish my specific role in God’s big story, I need to be prayerful about how I spend my time and energy. Not only do we need to acknowledge the things God wants us to do, but we also need to define the things that aren’t ours to pursue.
So, on any given day, I can tell you a few things I do well. But, perhaps more importantly, I can tell you what I don’t do.
I don’t make homemade bread.
I don’t garden.
I don’t run marathons.
I don’t knit. Or sew. Or create cute crafts. Or dazzling DIY projects.
How about you? When’s the last time you asked God to reveal the things you don’t need to do in order to play your important part in His Kingdom tale? No doubt, your list won’t look like mine. But it may set you free to be exactly who God’s created you to be.
So, if you’re tired of feeling tired, make that list. If you’re short on joy and long on insecurity, make that list. If you’re worn out from the comparison game, make that list. If you can’t celebrate your talents and laugh at your limitations, make that list.
Stick it to your bathroom mirror. Carry it in your pocket. And refuse to apologize for being you.
So, friend, if you’ve been made to bake homemade bread, by all means, bake away.
If you’ve been designed to paint beauty, grab your brush and create.
If you’ve been fashioned to encourage others, open your mouth and speak life.
If you’ve been gifted to sing, fill the earth with music, please.
But whatever you do, don’t try to do it all, or you just might miss the one thing that the world desperately needs you to do.