When my youngest child was in the third grade her teacher introduced the class (and me) to a brilliant concept made popular in the book 8 Great Smarts by Kathy Koch, PhD. In her book, Dr. Koch seeks to educate parents on how smart their kids are, regardless of how they perform in the classroom. She points out that intelligence is not limited to traditional “book learning,” but includes such things as musical, nature and body smarts. Dr. Koch gives instruction on how to nurture all types of God-given intelligence specific to the individual child and to build self confidence.
In the Bible, the Psalmist sings his gratitude for the way he was made. Psalm 139:14 (ESV) records: “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”
But frankly, my soul doesn’t always know how wonderfully I am made. I need reminding. When I am hustling, trying to keep up with a pace set by others, I feel anxious. I tend to believe that I won’t or can’t succeed and therefore am “less than.”
Do you ever feel this way?
Do you think “fearfully made” means you are scary weird? Do you believe, “I’m not normal” when comparing yourself to others?
Yeah. Me too. And it hurts to think that way.
Comparison causes conflict.
When I hurt, when I have unhealthy and unloving thoughts about my self-worth or am angry with God about my lack, I retreat. And I go to the garden.
My home garden is a delightful place to me. It is a place where life is abundant and diversity keeps the harmony. It’s my reminder that everything has a purpose and each life can only do what it was designed for.
The oak tree cannot produce blueberries and the Black-eyed Susan don’t grow blue.
I don’t begrudge them this, but rather applaud how well they do their thing!
Recently, I watched a documentary that recorded the process of returning a dead piece of land into a thriving, productive farm. “The Biggest Little Farm” is an inspiring story of revival that includes a strong thread of interdependence as the core of balance and prosperity. This film depicts harmony between plant, animal and man, yet the struggle and pain are not minimized.
As I sit in my “Eden,” in awe of natures complex beauty, I come into agreement with the Psalmist’s words, “Wonderful are your works.”
It brings me joy.
Eventually, however, I must get up and take with me the application I have found. Creation, in its beauty, variety and harmony is awe-inspiring! It is truly praise worthy!
I am not separate from it. Neither are you. We are not freaks of nature…we are one with it! I am a part of my garden.
Perhaps comparison only causes conflict when uniformity is the goal.
What if harmony is the goal?
The old oak grows and shares it shade. The blueberries offer their fruit on extended arm. Harmony requires sharing that which makes us unique. Keeping my “wonderful” to myself might just be creating an imbalance in my community. What if the oak did not share its shade?
Dr. Koch wrote her book out of love for children and in service to them. She uses her own intelligence to build up confidence in others. Her works show love to humanity by affirming the beauty and value in our differences. Her book is not written to children, but to parents, who are also just big children in need of reminding.
Mrs. Selven, a talented third grade teacher, uses her gifts in relating to children, to encourage them to explore learning in the ways that come most naturally. Her job, her gifts, her passions having been pouring out year after year into child after child.
Just like these women, you and I are uniquely smart in ways that give us something other people need us to share. Let’s celebrate one another as we give from our vast abundance!
Can you sing? I want to hear!
Do you cook? Let’s taste your food!
Have you a smile? Infect me with it!
Together we have a cornucopia we offer the world!
O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. Psalm 104:24
Stay tuned for a Part 2 – Wonderfully Made: Hidden Resources