Saturday, March 23, 2013

Pretty Packages

 Around our house, it is well known that Daniel is the gift-wrapper. His gifts are always perfect-the paper is exactly the right size, the edges are nice and straight, and the paper is smooth with no wrinkles or little tears. Mine, not so much. So when I can, I always get Daniel to do the gift wrapping for me. But sometimes, like on HIS birthday, I have to do it myself.
Sometimes I cut the paper too small and I end up having to make a kind of patchwork wrapping on the back to hide the gap. Sometimes, I cut the paper way too big and the ends are too long. But, what I do really well is I make the FRONT of the gift look good. Kind of like this

It may not be perfect, but it's pretty. Since I didn't have the right sized box, I had to put the gifts into a paper grocery bag and then wrap that, which made it a little odd shaped. I cut the paper a little big, so the sides are a little overlapped. But, it's presentable. Something I would gladly display on the gift table at a party, right?
Well, I might, as long as I could be sure that the only side that would be seen was the front and as long as I knew no one would look at it too closely. Because if you looked from a different angle
and got a little closer
you'd see that it's not quite as pretty as what I let you see from a distance.
Isn't that the way a lot of us are with our lives? We spend a lot of time making sure that the image we put out there for other people to see looks good. We are very careful which pictures of us make it to facebook and which ones are quickly deleted from the memory card. All of our posts are inspiring quotes or uplifting scriptures. We put on our smiling, happy faces when we go out and when someone asks us how we are, the answer is always "Couldn't be better."
And we keep everyone at arm's length so that's ALL they see.
We avoid invitations for dinner at friends' homes because our children may misbehave and we'd have to discipline them, thus shattering out image of being perfect parents with perfect children. We push aside the urge to invite friends over to our home because we don't want them to see that the floor hasn't been mopped or the furniture is a little worn. What would they think? And, for sure, we don't ever share a problem or ask for prayer from our friends. We don't want people to know we have problems and issues in our lives.
But, this is not the way God intended for us to live. He wants us to be connected to those around us. He wants us to be real. And the only way we can really be real is to let people in. We have to let them see our "not so pretty" side. We have to share with them when we have a problem so that they can help us.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 in the NIV says,
"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor; if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. And, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."
I hesitate to publish this post because I know these words are mostly speaking to me. This is on my mind for a reason-God is asking me to get out of my comfort zone and get connected with people more. I'm doing my best to do just that. I've recently joined a ladies' Bible study group on Saturday afternoons. We're studying the book of Luke and each week we read a chapter at home and answer some questions, then discuss what we read on Saturday. Of all the questions over the 3 weeks of the study so far, the hardest one was "Tell us about yourself."
So, if I can do it, you can too. My challenge to you is to do something this week to connect with someone in a real way. It may be inviting someone over for dinner, even though your house isn't "company ready". Or it may be that when someone asks how you are, you say "You know, I'm having kind of a hard day today and things just aren't going my way. Would you please pray for me?" Whatever it is, step out and do it. Take a chance and let God bless you for it.

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