It Takes All Kinds

I awoke this morning and immediately felt a flood of relief.  Oh, thank God, I don't have to give a presentation this afternoon, a presentation that I hadn't gotten around to actually writing yet.  I can stop furiously trying to find a quiet place with a spot to plug in my computer, a place where people are not asking me questions and talking with me about all sorts of extraneous subjects. A place where people would simply leave me be so that I could first even figure out what I was even going to present at 3:30 this afternoon, much less write it!

Most of us have these dreams. My husband dreams about being unprepared for exams in French class. Today mine was about receiving the honor of being asked to be the speaker at a function and not being able to prepare for it.

But upon reflection, the most interesting part of my dream was the subject of the presentation. I had to write about someone I admired, but it couldn't be Joan of Arc or Eleanor Roosevelt. It had to be someone I actually know (because, presumably, she was going to be invited to the party) and someone who was in the thick of life right now. I had to have stuff I could share about the person - such as a link to her website - that was ongoing.

In my dream, I frantically sifted through potential names. Most of them I don't remember now, and indeed, as often happens in dreams, I expect most of them are not people I actually know.  I did come up with a name, but woke up just as I landed on it. Thank goodness.

Anyway, as I think back, I realize that I was trying to find someone who was very different from me as the subject of my presentation. That wasn't a stated requirement, but I felt it necessary. The only people I thought I should admire were people totally different from me.

Now why is that?

Sometimes we are not able to appreciate our own good qualities but get stuck in a place where we only see our faults and the places where we are lacking. We see people who have gifts other than the ones we have been given and we imagine those gifts are more admirable and worthy. I'm not talking about humility here; I'm talking about not being able to see the gifts we have been given as gifts but instead see them as liabilities or even failings.

We all have room for improvement. We all are in the process of growing into the people God has made us to be. Often our strengths to have a shadow side, of which we need to be aware. But few of us need a complete overhaul.

So, even though I woke well before the alarm, I am glad I didn't go any further down that road in my dream.  I used to hear the saying, "It takes all kinds to make the world go round." It was usually used to describe someone who the speaker thought strange. But it is true. It does take all kinds. The fact that I can't imagine how surgeons do their thing or marvel at the abilities of statisticians doesn't mean that I'm lacking. It means surgeons and statisticians have marvelous gifts. That has nothing to do with me. I have my own gifts, and as hard as it is to believe sometimes, some people marvel at mine!

O Lord, open my eyes so that I do not envy the gifts of others but seek to use the gifts you have given me. Help me appreciate and grow into my strengths instead of comparing them to the strengths of others and finding them lacking. This is my prayer today.


Bill Bynum said…
My bad dream is showing up to teach a class totally unprepared, no doubt due to a 41 year career in academia. Your prayer works for me, too. Based on someone's positive quality, I find it easy to construct an image of a super person with that quality and no flaws, then beat up on myself because I can't measure up to that perfection. I think that it was in a recent Forward Day By Day meditation where the point was made that we shouldn't judge others, because, unlike God, we don't really know everything about them, so a correct judgement will be impossible. It seems to me that this same reason can be used to point out why creating a perfect imaginary person out of a single positive quality is also a bad idea. Thanks for another of your thought provoking essays.
Thank you, Bill, for adding to the conversation. We do construct completely unreal images of people based on very limited information and then set those images up against our own for no good reason! It's just hard sometimes to let those images go, both of ourselves and of others.