by Laurie Wallin
Sometimes I wonder what God is thinking. (OK, lots of times.) When prayer seems to fall fruitless to the floor, when personal battles rage unabated, and I’m frustrated with something in myself, it’s easy to wonder whether God’s thinking includes me at all. When I’m in one of those modes—those “Nobody loves me. I’m no good. Might as well curl up and succumb to the bag of chips” frames of mind—I often end up going on one of my nature strolls.
Enter the humble pine cone. So easily kicked to the side of the street as I walk, it reveals a pattern that’s repeated in one way or another just about everywhere within the universe. A number-based pattern of spirals named for the mathematician who first discovered them, these Fibonacci numbers form repetitive patterns in much of nature—from galaxies to ocean waves, from pine cones to the contour of your ear.
That’s right, we carry that design motif too. On our bodies. Inside them. And it’s all around us. Because we’re part of God’s grand design. You and I were worth fashioning. Our lives, our work, and our presence here matter more than we can imagine.
Looking at that pine cone, I realize something: it isn’t sitting along the side of the road crying because it isn’t good enough. So why are we crying? Why are we struggling with insecurity, with the sense that we don’t have strengths or that our quirks might just swallow them whole?
When we look at our lives, full of the mundane in many ways, we must not miss the elegance of their design. Because everything about us has something to do with our purpose: The music we love. The things that freak us out. Our favorite hobbies. Our jobs. What we think about. The classes we took during college. The summer job that had nothing to do with anything (or so we thought). And even that weirdo we dated in high school.
It all has a point! It’s part of God’s grand design.
If you’re like me, you might be thinking, Yeah, right! How exactly could all those parts of my life be related? And how could they possibly matter to real life now?
Great questions. To those, I’ll ask a few back:
1. What words might appropriately describe your life over time?
2. What experiences have you had, and what have you gained from them?
3. What ideas and experiences inspire you?
During a recent season in which I felt a bit lost in my focus for work and writing, I answered these questions myself. To my surprise, words and themes were repeated again and again: coach, teacher, inspirer, supporter. In my role as the oldest sibling growing up. As a teacher’s assistant in middle school. As swim captain in high school and a coach afterward. As a resident advisor, helping college freshmen find their fit on campus. As a middle school teacher. Even my college photography studio job had a place in my bigger purpose, as I created settings that reflected and supported each subject’s uniqueness.
My quirks, preferences, strengths and challenges, it became clear, had all been one huge becoming. Each revealed parts of God’s design in me–for me–and it all mattered. Just as every part matters in yours.
When life gets intense, or we lose sight of the value in our experiences, strengths or quirks, asking the three questions above―or simply noticing the design in nature around us―can get us back on track toward embracing the wonderful in our weirdness.
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