We frequently pray prayers that we don’t realize we’re praying. We see things in other people and our hearts pray “Why can’t I be that way?” Or “Why am I not able to do those things?” The vulnerability in feeling inadequate by comparison takes these earnest prayers from our hearts to God’s ears and if you listen, God will answer them in the most amazing ways.
Recently, I was standing in my kitchen after a frustrating week. It was only Tuesday but I felt like the week had beat me up enough for it to be Thursday. I was having the kind of week that made every single little thing irritating. The control freak in me had tried all week (two days) to make sure that things would improve. I kept trying to stay positive and to rearrange my surroundings to work in my favor, but I was failing and it felt like I kept being reminded that all my attempts to succeed were failing. On this particular Tuesday, all I wanted to do, was come home, cook the meal I had planned to cook, eat, relax and hopefully recover enough to do it all over again tomorrow. But of course, that was too much to ask on this particular Tuesday.
I was at a point, emotionally, that I was just barely holding it together and I knew the smallest disappointment would have been the last straw and I would inevitably crumble under the weight in a full dramatic performance, as is typical for me at least once a month. That last straw happened to be in a jar. There I was, standing in my kitchen attempting to cook. I was almost finished but needed a jar of sauce to complete my dish. I reached into the refrigerator and grabbed what I needed. I placed my right hand on the lid of the jar and attempted to twist it off but it wouldn’t budge. I tried twice more and it only made my hand hurt. I considered eating without the sauce but that didn’t seem fair. Nothing had gone my way all week (on a Tuesday) and I thought the least the universe would allow me, should be to enjoy my food the way I wanted to eat it. But here I am pacing my kitchen floor, after smacking the bottom of the jar, after placing a towel over the lid for traction, after shaking it up and down for whatever reason, trying to figure out why I can’t open this jar.
I sat the jar down in frustration, rubbing my temples and asking what else I hadn’t tried. Should I ask a neighbor for help? No, because if I talk to someone, I’ll cry and I don’t need these people thinking I’m crazy. I had opened the jar before, why is it so difficult today of all days? Was this jar a sign that moving away from home was a terrible idea and I actually can’t do all this by myself? This is how dramatic I was being. In a last ditch effort, I tried something I hadn’t tried. Something that didn’t even make sense to me. I picked the bottle up with my right hand and grabbed the lid with my left hand. I’m not left handed at all. There’s no real reason my left hand should be more capable of opening this jar than my right because I don’t use it, but I have this other hand I haven’t tried so I’m going to try it. Sure enough, with one firm squeeze and twist, POP! The top came off and I got my lesson.
I had spent the last few days wondering why my gifts and talents weren’t producing in the same ways my peers’ were. I was looking at friends and family thinking, well what are they doing that I’m not doing? What do they have that I don’t have? And with a jar and my left hand, God told me to worry about myself. I may not have all of the resources I think I need, but have I valued ones I have enough to use them to their full potential?
Many times, we look at others and think we don’t have enough or that we ourselves are not enough for the task that we are being called to. Meanwhile, God is saying to us,
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6
Your gifts, talents, resources, etc may be different from someone else’s but I’m the same God to them as I am to you. If I’ve given you a vision, I have also given you the provisions. You’ve exhausted your right hand, so try your left. You’re not any less capable or adequate than anyone else. Use and strengthen what you already have while you have it and whatever else you think you need will fall into place. God would not send you on a mission you are incapable of accomplishing and that is simply because God is incapable of failing a work God has initiated. Whatever the task, whatever the goal, whatever the unopened jar, never underestimate what you’ve already been given.