What We’re Meant For

Today I notice the Weeping Cherry, and the beautiful intricacy of the ice on her limbs captures my attention.

Ice on the Weeping Cherry

A swirling scaffolding of crystal sparkles in the late afternoon sun.   It’s so beautiful that I almost forget how terrible this weight is for my Weeping Cherry’s fragile branches.  She’s not meant for it. 

When I think about what I’m meant for, and when I start to desire that shimmer of fame or importance to capture attention,  I remember this:  God made the Weeping Cherry for its own unique kind of blossom and rich green foliage.  Let everything else melt off and free her to be what she was meant to be.  She’ll bloom in time. 

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Why do you think this generation desires fame so very much?

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Fame Often Comes When We No Longer Need It

My one-eyed cat, Jack, knows he’s a blog celebrity.  He tolerates us.  By now, he can pick the perfect lighting and the perfect tilt of the head whenever I have my camera near him.  He endures it all for the sake of others who need encouragement.  You can read his whole journey here. 

Jack’s Photo Shoot 

He stays still and waits for the click of the lens.  He extends a paw for a creative shot and displays some claw to remind us of his power. 

Claws

Then, he lounges and signifies his photo shoot is over.   

He lets me know he’s had enough.  I now have to fit into his schedule. 

This cat’s journey reminds me that we move from wounded and abandoned to rescued and redeemed.  We stop begging for attention and clamoring for love.  It’s because we already have all we need–in abundance–so much so that when somebody blogs about us, it’s not important anymore.  We gain fame at the exact moment when we want it the least.

Jack just does his thing.  He loves his healed cat life.

Living with flair means we just do our thing–healed, rescued, and redeemed.  We don’t seek fame or even need it.  If it comes, we’ll tolerate it, but we’re finally free from needing it.

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Journal:  Have you struggled with the desire for fame?

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Fame and Fortune?

I’m listening to Vonette Bright speak about the days of co-founding a ministry in 1951 that now ranks as one of the largest missions organizations in the world.  She mentions the moment she agreed to fully surrender to God.   What would it require?  What would it mean to submit to a calling? 

I learned part of the answer I didn’t know before. 

I didn’t realize that within an actual contract the Brights signed between themselves and God, the couple agreed not to accumulate wealth or seek fame.

I smiled when I heard her explain this. She knew something far greater and more satisfying than the world’s most seductive paths.  She knew what mattered most in another economy in another kingdom.

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Journal:  Famous people are often annoyed by their fame.  They don’t want it once they have it.  Wealthy folks often die lonely and miserable.  If we know these things, why are we still tempted by fame and money?  What do they promise?

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The Real Oscar Moment

I’m walking down the street, balancing two fruit tarts in either hand.  The neighbor at the end of my street (the Italian Mama!) has invited us for dinner.

They weigh a lot for fruit tarts.  As I walk, I start thinking about the task of carrying things in my arms for long distances.  It doesn’t happen very often.  Something about living in America, something about prosperity, something about modern conveniences means I don’t carry things anymore.

I know women in other nations who carry laundry to a river to wash it against the rocks.  Those same women carry rainwater into their homes to bathe their children.  Women in Kenya, at this very minute, are carrying their sick family members to villages miles away to find medical help.

I’m carrying fruit tarts.  

What are other women carrying in their sturdy arms today?  What physical burdens do they bear?  I thought of the woman in Proverbs 31 whose “arms are strong for her tasks.”  People who carry heavy loads often have a strength, a resolve, and a hidden joy.  Theirs is a particularly robust form of flair.  But nobody celebrates them with recognition or reward. And they don’t seek those things.  

We ate the fruit tart, and all evening I’m thinking of people carrying heavy loads.  Who honors them?  I wake up, still thinking of them.

As the morning progresses, 3 events transpire in rapid succession.  First, I read a paragraph about the temptation to build a reputation, to seek fame, to chase reward.  The author quotes Philippians in the Bible and shares how Jesus was “of no reputation,” and did not seek to exalt himself in any way.  He “made himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant.”

Then, I help a friend pack up her apartment for the moving truck.  She’s a professor who has served me on many occasions, and her whole vocation involves serving students.  At one point, she brings over a golden statue.  It’s an Oscar!

I take it in my hands.  It’s heavy.  Somebody gave her a fake Oscar for a present, and for a few minutes, we give each other imaginary acceptance speeches at the Academy Awards.

I carry it in my arms–this symbol of fame and wealth.

I’m not thinking of movie stars.  I’m thinking of women carrying heavy loads.

And lastly, my daughters return from Vacation Bible School with a craft that displays the exact same verse in Philippians about the servant of no reputation.

Might I live as a servant with no reputation?   They carry the heaviest of loads and shine brighter than any star.

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The Fame That Lasts Till Lunch

My daughter tried out for the talent show yesterday. 

I’m amazed that she would do this.  Amazed.  Last year, she didn’t receive even one vote from her class for her dance routine. (It was freestylin’ to “Accidentally in Love”–the worm, the spins on your bottom–I’ll spare you the details because she would want me to.)

And this year has been heartbreak. The mean girls!  The fickle crowd!  When she told me she planned to audition in front of her class, I wanted to scream:  “Are you crazy, foolish child?  Will you cast yourself to the lions?  Let’s preserve what little reputation you have left!  You will be devoured and humiliated!  Stay safe in my arms!  You’ve endured enough!”  I knew she’d be competing against a kid with magic tricks and a girl with years of elite gymnastics training.

She had no chance. 

But she really wanted to audition.  So there I am, preparing mentally all day for her sure failure.  I’m visualizing my parking space, closest to the school, so I can pick her up in my arms and carry her to the car so nobody can see her tears.  I’m imagining a special comforting dessert that will await her homecoming. What helps a child recover from. . . losing? 

She walks out of the school building, and I can hardly face her.  She calmly approaches me with a little folded piece of paper.  She doesn’t say anything but just points to the note.  I unfold it and she’s written in yellow marker: “I won the vote.  Yay!”

Oh, me of little faith.

As we drive home, she tells me about the other acts and how nobody was that good.  But when she performed her piano act (after dragging the class to the auditorium just so they could hear her 1 minute of music), everybody started cheering.  They voted for her.  The hands went up in the air!

What world is this where things go well for her?  Did God hear my prayer, her music teacher’s prayer, and all my frantic text message prayer requests to please pray for my daughter today?


I think so.

“How did it feel?  Did you feel just great?”  I asked her, beaming but definitely trying to hide my proud parent, over-the-top enthusiasm.

“It was awesome.”  She paused and looked out the window.

“But my fame ended by lunch time.  People forget you.”

She changed the subject and told me to look back to see her amazing ceramic turtle she made in art class. We were on to new adventures, new topics–art, her summer reading plan, and what computer games she wanted to play. 

Whatever it was that allowed her to walk down that hallway to the auditorium, her little chin up, it’s another thing I’m putting on my version of her resume.  Right next to “Survived Recess,” I’m putting, “Auditioned in Front of Hostile 2nd Grade Crowd to Win Spot in School Talent Show Despite Totally Bombing Last Year’s Dance Routine.”

And I might add:  “Learned that Fame Ends By Lunchtime so Don’t Bother Wanting it So Badly”

That girl has flair.  I would have never had the guts to do what she did.

And God answered an even better prayer than my superficial “grant her success.”  He showed my daughter that winning the love of the crowd doesn’t last. And it shouldn’t.  There are much better adventures awaiting.

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