When we traveled to Hong Kong to pick up our daughter Kate, after she had served as a missionary for eighteen months, Dave and I made our way through the steamy, thickly populated streets to a little tailor’s shop. Up some narrow stairs, and into a small front room, we looked at layer on layer of fabric as we waited for the tailor. She entered the room with a necklace with a small pair of scissors around her neck and a measuring tape dangling from her shoulders. In broken English, we discussed styles and fabrics. She measured both of us, every inch, in places I would not have thought mattered. Three days later Dave had a fabulously fitted new dress suit and I had a new floor length silk skirt to wear at our other daughter Annie’s forthcoming wedding.
We, who live in the real world, generally dress ourselves “off the rack”, with clothing that is made to fit the average size of the typical human. Custom made clothing is expensive, and difficult to make to fit perfectly.
Yesterday, as my grandniece Quincey was getting into her pajamas, she started dancing around in her nakedness. Pirouettes and arabesques in all her glory! It’s cute to do that when you are three years old. I mentioned that she had a very happy birthday suit! She looked at me, puzzled. I told her that what she was wearing was the same thing she was wearing when she was born – on her birth day. She looked down at herself, then up at me, then giggled a little. Quincey’s birthday suit was custom fitted for her, too.
When my kids were kids it seemed that at least once a day someone would be complaining that something wasn’t fair. We had four kids in six years, so the instinct to compare was natural, especially when they were adolescents and teenagers.
Each of our kids had individual strengths and weaknesses. One or two were perpetually, late. One or two were a little lax in the homework department, and others never had to be reminded. Some were dependable drivers. Others spent a bit of time in traffic school. Or grounded. Some did chores without too much complaint. Others… well, you get the picture. It took me too many years to finally figure out that there was no way in the world that I could treat them fairly, because they each had individual lessons to learn. And since I was their “tailor” so to speak, I needed to measure and cut according to the shape they were in. Trying to get them to understand that we, as members of the human race, are supposed to try to treat each other with fairness, while at the same time helping them see that their upbringing needed to be individually designed and therefore could not appear to be fair…well, that was quite the task!
Now they are grown, and my attention to “raising people” has turned to … well, to myself. I am trying to raise myself, I suppose. Or maybe it would be better put to say that I am conscious of the fact that Someone is raising me. He knows me. He’s measured and evaluated the way I move, and He’s created a custom fitted suit just for me.
My challenges and my strengths are custom designed for my spirit. Because of that, I cannot adequately compare myself and my situation with a single other person alive, or who ever lived, because their suits were custom fitted for them as well.
I have every confidence that the Tailor who crafted my spirit, is fully aware of every curve and divot, every weak and strong muscle in my soul. He has clothed me in flesh, and in human experience. He gives me custom challenges and sets me up for custom successes. And while I complain that something is just plain too tight, he knows that I can grow and shrink to fit the suit as easily as He can adjust the suit to fit me.
My HOPE for today is that the ones I love will step back, quit complaining, and recognize that the things we hate about our selves and our lives are part of the suit our Maker has custom designed for our souls. It may take a thousand years, or more, for us to finally see why the suit was so uncomfortable for a while.
I’ve said for years,
"YOU CAN’T NOT LEARN!"
It may take a long time. It may take a good bit of stretching and pulling, and trimming and adjusting, but eventually we will look back and draw a breath, holding it in a while, then end with a sigh. “Ooooh! Now I get it!” we will exclaim, as we button our suit coats around us, shake our shoulders and wiggle our hips. “Fits just fine” we’ll say, forgetting all that time we were on the earth squirming and scratching when we first put on that suit God made for us…these custom fitted suits called life.
During the season of Lent I make the personal commitment to write every day. I’ve done this for the past eight years, as a token of devotion and thanks to the Lord for giving me a brain that works (usually). I publish these writings here on my blog, unedited and splattered like wet paint, as a way to share them and to keep them for myself and for my posterity. This year I have decided to ruminate on thoughts, ideas, habits and miscellaneous personal practices I would like to put in a figurative HOPE CHEST to take with me into the rest of my life and the life beyond. Besides that, there are bits of advice I would like to tuck into the HOPE CHESTS of my kids and grandkids.