Sunday, July 31, 2011

Not Lost in the Shuffle

Growing up as the fourth daughter in a family of five girls had its ups and downs. For the first 4 years, it was great! I was the baby and my older sisters were already off at school when I arrived.

I remember taking walks with my dad. Holding his hand always made me feel completely safe and content (though if you ask him, he was probably having to bribe me with Welch's Grape soda featuring the "Happy Days" characters for a moment of silence...I was quite chatty).

Mom helped her dad with the race horses and I got to tag along. We had a pony named Angel - who must have been named on opposite day. I probably could have become a trick rider just learning how to stay on her back as she purposefully scraped against the stall walls in attempts to brush me off. I enjoyed those time with Mom. She was so beautiful and strong. Effortlessly she cared for the horses - from feeding to training to mucking stalls - instilling in me a life-long love and respect for animals - all while her long, thick, dark auburn hair stayed in a loose bun atop her head. Amazing!

Something happened when I was four. Mom got pregnant. I was so excited! I prayed and prayed for twin baby brothers. My excitement began to wane as more and more attention was focused on the "new" baby and its/their arrival. By the time Mom went to the hospital, I was less than thrilled. Once I learned that my prayers had not been answered and I just got another sister, I was over it. Not only was my role as baby of the family being stolen, she wasn't even a boy. I wonder if, in my subconscious, I knew there really wouldn't be any comparison or competition between me and twin boys. I'd still be the baby girl. This new addition made me question for the first time who I was.

For years after, I struggled with my role and place in the family. It's not something I talked about - I doubt I could have verbalized it at the time. The roles of singer, athlete and brain were taken by my three older sisters, respectively. My role as the baby was taken by my younger sister. The only title I had was "the left-handed one", but at least I liked the distinction that I alone carried and shared with my mother.

The past few years have been quite tumultuous - which Webster defines as "marked by violent or overwhelming turbulence or upheaval" - for me. No part of my life - from personal to professional - has been left unscathed. I've lost friends, finances, furniture, and even my sense of self. I've questioned everything - from where I should to live and work to if my presence in those places even matters - feeling shipwrecked in a sea of overwhelming circumstance and lost in the shuffle of everyday existence.

But reading today in I Timothy 4:14, encouraged me to reflect and remember. In the Amplified it reads, "Do not neglect the gift which is in you [that special inward endowment] which was directly imparted to you [by the Holy Spirit]..."

I asked the Lord to remind me of the gift He placed within me - that special inward endowment directly imparted to me by the Holy Spirit - and He's showing me.

I want to encourage you to do the same. We are each uniquely gifted, distinctively designed and incomparably crafted. I'm learning that only when I'm utilizing that gift within me am I truly able to find peace in the midst of the storms and not be lost in the shuffle.

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