Saturday, December 20, 2014

Ever Feel Like a Bent Can?

This morning I was up way earlier than I wanted to be for reasons that are not necessary to share, but just let me say it was still dark outside. As usual, if my eyes are open, I'm feeling like I need to eat something, so I went on a search for some kind of protein source that would make my tummy stop growling at me. All I could come up with that didn't require cooking and a lot of noise that would wake up my husband, was a couple cans of tuna. So tuna salad for breakfast, sounds good! I've never believed that any food should be confined to being consumed at a certain time of the day -- I don't know whose idea it was to assume that we must eat cereal for breakfast or pot roast for dinner. For me, any food is fair game for any time of the day, so, today, tuna salad fit the bill just fine. Only one problem, both cans were significantly bent and I couldn't get my can opener - electric or manual - to make a connection long enough to get them open. I was finally able to pry open a big enough hole in each lid to slide a fork in and dig out the tuna, but not before spilling tuna water all over the counter and cutting my finger with the knife that cuts flesh but not tin. I finally got my tuna salad sandwich made, but for some reason, I started to think about how I was a little like those bent cans.

I have always felt I was just not quite like everyone else (well, really, who is?), but for some reason, today I was hit with the thought that there are times I feel a little bent -- just like those tuna cans. The device that was made to open a normal can wouldn't work on a bent can, Neither do the activities of society that are meant to "open up a person" work well on me. I don't really like to be open, nor do I feel comfortable in social settings. I hold on to my privacy the way a bent can holds onto its contents. The more one tries to "draw me out", the more I tighten my grip. I'm not sure why, really, except that I am concerned that once I am "drawn out", I just might not meet the expectations of those doing the drawing! We have expectations of the contents of a can, bent or not, we expect the contents to live up to what the label says is inside. If the label says it contains tuna fish, then we expect to find tuna fish inside.

Let's face it -- people have labels too! Usually more than one, and sometimes those labels change over the years. One of my labels is "Pastor's Wife." If that label had ingredients listed on it, what would they be? Here's just a few that have been expected of me over the years:

Friendly extrovert
Accomplished musician
Spontaneous pray-er
Bible verse quoter
Church member name recaller
Mother of well-behaved children
Always appropriate dresser
Perfect words for any situation
Habitual law abider
Complete honesty
Willingness to share husband endlessly

I can't say I have ever actually lived up to any of these expected ingredients with complete satisfaction. I wonder if any pastor's wife really can? I can say that I have more of some of these ingredients than I do of others, but overall, knowing that you can't be all that is expected of you, can, over time, make you begin to feel like a bent can. Like you just don't fit on the shelf properly. Like you can't be "opened up" the way others can be. Like maybe you are constantly being "dug out" of your comfort zone.

I have learned over the years that ultimately, my life is not really about what others expect of me or what they think of me. It is really about who I am in God's eyes. My life is about who God created me to be and the ingredients He used to make me who I am. His recipe is different for each person and there is no label that fits us all except the label "Child of God, imperfect in every way, but made perfect by the blood of Jesus." In reality, we are all just bent cans compared to the perfection of Jesus. But ironically, Jesus is the very can-opener that each of us needs to be opened and used in a world where perfection is always just out of our reach. It is only when we admit and embrace our own imperfections, that we are able to be made perfect by Him.