Just before we moved into our home there was a huge estate sale to prepare the house for our occupancy. It was a literal marketplace of treasures from across the whole span of its owner's life. In the living room I found a small antique doll carriage with delicate handles that curved all the way around, looking like some fancy letter penned in calligraphy. It was marked only five dollars.
From the gleaming white hearth I rescued a cast iron tea kettle, black and tempered well from years of use. It was massive in size, not like the cute whistler I have that neatly sets on the stove. It clearly came from another time. The inside was a little rusty but none the worse for wear and from the outside it looked like maybe I just removed it from the hook above the fire pit where I might have just been preparing a meal.....100 years ago. It made me feel like a woman to buy that thing....like I was forging a kinship with women across the decades who worked harder than I work to do common everyday things. It made me want to bake bread and see the dough rising up in the pan or put my hands in the dirt to plant a garden or can tomatoes in glistening mason jars to feed my family in winter.
In one bedroom I found a chest of clothes from the sixties, bold patterns and bright colors all merging together into a kaleidescope awakening the senses. They reminded me of pictures of my family taken when I was a baby, all the women of our family proudly displayed on the front row of the photographs arrayed in their rich multicolors.
The rooms were full...and each return to a room brought my eyes to things I had not noticed in the last walk through. While I was looking I met a lady, a friend of the woman who had called this place home. While I had been looking in each room, picking up items, thinking about the item's use or what it's story might have been, she was picking up items and remembering...remembering stories that she was a part of...remembering times shared with a dear friend. While I was treasure hunting for things I might like to use in my home, her eyes were keenly trained, looking for particular items. As we were leaving, passing by the laundry room we noticed that there were more shelves with items on them around the walls. I picked up a glass pitcher, sturdy with a cobalt blue rim. It felt heavy in my hand, and I could picture it on the deck with fresh lemonade and lemons floating on the top. Then I noticed my new friend. She reached for a small flower pot with small cat peeking over the edge and clutched it to her chest. It was clearly the treasure that had been the object of her quest. Three word escaped her lips. "I found it!" She told me of the day they had gone shopping together and each bought one of these flowerpots. In rich detail she described the flower that been planted in the pot. Then happily she left with her treasure. I found more treasures that day...several lamps, sheets for the bed that will occupy one of the rooms...a whole season of a favorite TV show. There was a clock that displays the time on the ceiling and real original lava lamps.
I tucked my treasures in my new closet, not intending to take them to my present home to pack up and bring back. On the way home, empty-handed I thought about the lady with her flower pot. The pot was made of resin..no precious jewels or gold laden edges...it was just a pot...but the look on her face is one I will always remember. she gave that pot value with the joy written on her face in the finding of it. I am quite certain that if I walked into her home today I would find that small pot in a place of prominence. I know without a doubt that it is displayed on a shelf or centered carefully on a table. Maybe it is on the front porch with a flower in it like she described to me. Wherever it sits, it is in a place where it is valued. It is loved.
My life is alot like that. On some days I feel like everyone has more value than me...like this person teaches better than me and this person is prettier than me, and really this person has more market value than I will ever have. On some days, quite frankly I feel like that piece that the owner proudly brings to the Antique Roadshow and expectantly waits with their mind full of all the things this wonderful piece will buy them and then has their hopes dashed as they find it is worth 3 dollars on a good day.
But then God comes in with His eyes trained on all the treasures in the room, the things that are prettier than me and fancier than me and more useful than me and looks past those things because He is looking for me. He seeks me out and with a look of joy clutches me to His chest because he sees something of value in me. He sees my value because He knows my story... He knows what makes me sad what makes me happy and where the chips in my surface came from. He knows my story and how He has been a part of it and He values me....He gives me value because I am His and in His hands, pressed tightly to His chest, I know I am loved and valued and that I measure up. It is not because of the stuff I am made of...that's just common stuff. It is because He made me and He shares my story and when He looks at me He knows what I am and it is okay with Him. And when I look at Him, I know what I am, too.....treasured.
For the last year we have lived through unusual times. We have all stepped outside of our comfort zones and done hard things. I think we have gotten very adept at encouraging our kids and letting them know we are proud of the strides they are making in this great unknown. I wonder if we are doing as well when we look in the mirror. We have all taken on new roles, parents becoming teachers and teachers becoming technology experts and so much more. It is all unsettling and we are never sure if we are getting it quite right. The how-to guides seem to be being written as we live it out.
I want to urge you to show grace to the person you see in the mirror. There will be days that you feel confident in how you are doing with all the changes and there will be days that you feel exactly as I did on my very first day as a real teacher with my own classroom....."Who on earth thought this was a good idea?"
Its important that you know that you are enough. In the midst of the dining room table where you are working and teaching and folding clothes, you are enough. As teachers and parents interact to create a good learning environment for their child, you are enough. On the days that you wonder if you can continue this one more day....you are enough. When God lays His eyes on you, He sees the object of His affection. He sees a person He loves and values and someone whom He knows He prepared "for such a time as this". I ask you to look in the mirror and see yourself as God sees you. He loves you and in His eyes you are more than you can imagine. You are treasured indeed.