What do you bring?

Before you read any of my words, please, first, go to this website and watch this ad here

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Welcome back.

I just watched that ad for the first time, thanks to Facebook.  And I couldn’t help BUT smile.  It’s nice, aye?  It’s a true piece of Kiwiana, and it’s celebrating our diversity and highlighting our uniqueness, and it’s also very honouring of people.  It is saying that every Kiwi, no matter who they are, brings something special to the table.

I’d like to make that claim even bigger and broader though, and say that EVERYONE, everywhere brings something special to the table.  And I’m no feel-good, paid by every latte-driven minute marketer, working for an advertising company.   Pretty hoity-toity of me, right?

But I believe it.

I believe we all have something to offer others, we all have something to better this world we live in by our very existence, and we are a beautiful mix of all sorts.

One little problem is that not all of us are able to completely believe that, right here and right now.

On Friday I was just on my way home, leaving an event, when a passing comment turned into a longer conversation, and a friend of mine shared a little of where she’s at with life right now.  And my heart hurt for her.  That conversation was a reminder that life really isn’t always easy.  Some living situations are just plain bad.  Some people’s bodies don’t work as they should.  And sometimes life’s worries can just be a long and dark tunnel, of which the end is nowhere in sight.

This very morning another friend of mine shared with me of how she had cleaned the blocked drain of her shower that morning. As she removed handful after handful of strands of her own hair from the drain, she was blinking back the tears.  The hair loss isn’t some reaction to a terrible cancer treatment, but one of a series of physiological responses to trauma she’s facing.

These friends of mine – they’re in the middle of some perfect storms.  With not a lot of relief yet in sight.  And yes, as a Christian I believe that God is with my friends, and His presence can and does bring them peace, and comfort and hope. And I can tell them that these valley experiences are what brings character and shapes personality, and that would be true and good and right – and there’s a time and a place for comments like that.  But a by-product of facing storms like these, like the ones my friends are in at the moment, is that people are robbed of feeling worthwhile in the now.  They don’t feel they have anything special to bring to the table, because survival kinda happens to be their priority. One day at a time is what is manageable.

So what would I say to them, then?  And what would I say to you, if that was you?

I would say:

Look at what is being revealed in you now, in spite of your circumstances.  Look at what amazing character traits are there – that you previously didn’t know existed. Look at the patience you show.  Look at your capacity to endure.

We haven’t lived in the house we’re in at the moment, for very long.  So it is interesting to look around the garden every few weeks and see what is blooming.  Even in winter.  My most dreaded season.  The season we associate with hard times and troubles, with darkness and waiting for spring, even now there are things blooming, that were never in flower in summer.  So just as the garden is ever changing and ever surprising: so are you.

What can you see in you, at this time, that you haven’t seen before, because you haven’t been this way before?

And that  – that thing that is in you – that’s just one of the many things that you bring to the table my friend.  

In the storm and out of the storm.

You bring much to the table.

Each and every one of you.