The second I got engaged, I immediately turned into one of Those Girls. You know, the ones who carry around a stack of bridal magazines and can only talk about things like centerpieces, bows made of tulle and the merits of roses versus daisies. It wasn’t long before I had picked out the exact same wedding dress in every magazine, dog-earing pages and circling designers as if I wasn’t going to be shopping at David’s Bridal.
When it came time for the big day – the big shopping day, that is – my mom, cousins and friends all headed out with me. I flipped through the dresses on the racks and pulled out The One.
Well, I thought it was the one. But it turned out that the gorgeous wide-necked, cap-sleeved tight bodice with the simple full skirt looked terrible on my narrow shoulders. I mean, it just looked awful. I could prove it to you, because my mom lovingly snapped a picture when I tried it on. But honestly, it still makes me a little sad.
When I was in college, I was involved in a campus ministry and as soon as I was eligible (read: a wise sophomore), I applied for a position on the leadership team. I wasn’t sure which area of ministry would be the best fit for me, but I sure didn’t think it would be the Tech Team.
Making promotional videos? Designing a website? Running the sound equipment? Boring! Who wants to do that? Not me. I just knew that when the campus pastor looked at the list of open positions and compared it to the list of interested students, my name was merely the last one unmatched and, therefore, the logical fit for the stupid tech team.
Several years later my husband and I joined 10 of our closest friends in planting a new church. We decided to start our church with in-home meetings about the different areas of ministry our church would be founded on, and each couple was assigned an area to lead. My husband and I were assigned to the Fellowship Ministry.
Fellowship. As in, potlucks and picnics. Again, I was disappointed because clearly this wasn’t the best place for me to serve God. Obviously I could be doing so much more than planning chili cook-offs!
Flash forward a few years, and I’m watching the Tinker Bell movie with my 4-year-old daughter. Half paying attention, I don’t catch the entire plot of the movie on the first watch. But after a few more viewings (because if watching it once was good, watching it 10 times is way better!), I realize that little fairy and her friends are handing out some truth along with the pixie dust.
The gist of the story is that Tinker Bell is disappointed to learn that she is a tinker fairy, a fairy who fixes and builds things. Even though everyone can see that she’s gifted at tinkering, she wants desperately to do something more exciting, more fun with her life. At one point she says, “Look. You all do things that are beautiful and magical and . . . and important. But me . . . there’s gotta be more to my life than just pots and kettles. All I’m asking you is that you give me a chance.”
It takes her a while to figure out what’s clear to everyone else, but you know the movie must have a happy ending. Eventually, Tinker Bell realizes that she really is a tinker. It’s how she was created, and it’s when she’s tinkering that she’s truly in her element.
I’m no cartoon character, but I feel a little bit like Tinker Bell. From wedding dresses to ministry, I’ve fought who I am my entire life. And just like in this children’s movie, that refusal to accept myself has caused hurt and frustration and wasted a lot of time. I’ve had to learn, over and over, that when I stop arguing – with my mother at the bridal shop, with ministry leaders, with employers, with God – about who I am, it usually turns out that God has put me in the exact right spot. The exact right spot for me, the unique person He created – narrow shoulders and all.
The dress I ended up wearing at my wedding? It was gorgeous. And flattering, too, as my mother reminds me. The year I spent on the Tech Team in college? It prepared me for this little hobby called blogging. And leading our church plant’s Fellowship Ministry? It taught me about community and friendship and the real meaning of fellowship and, oh yeah, gave me loads of inspiration for my e-book about planning parties.
God doesn’t waste. He doesn’t waste talent or time or opportunities or experiences. And He knows what your right fit is. So if you find yourself in places that seem uncomfortable, like they just don’t fit or maybe like they’re just not good enough, fun enough, fancy enough or exciting enough? Just sit back, take a deep breath and think about Tinker Bell. Or wedding dresses. Or website design, circa 1998.
He’s got you where you are for a reason. He made you the way you are for a reason. And the way He weaves together His followers and their gifts, their lives and His mission is beautiful – and way better than pixie dust!
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.
There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.
There are different kinds of working,
but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
(1 Corinthians 12: 4-6)
Have you ever been disappointed with one of your gifts or abilities? How is God using those gifts and abilities now?