I once watched a professional stoneware artist working at the wheel, throwing pots. I asked him questions about the formation of the outer walls and how he made the varied shapes he was forming. He told me he only pays attention to the center and the outside walls take care of themselves.
Too often our attention is directed to our outer walls, or the way we appear to others. We find ourselves worthy only if we match up well against everybody else. We compare and compete then find ourselves lacking, never convinced we’re good enough. If we pay attention to our own personal journey, how we compare to others won’t matter any more. We don’t have to be perfect. We don’t have to be the best. We don’t have to compete with others. We have only to be better than we were yesterday.
I remember a day when the parents of the students in my daughter’s ballet class were invited to attend a performance demonstration to see the progress of the dance students. There were obvious differences in the levels of ballet technique and performance competency as the girls followed the teacher’s commands and performed a choreographed dance for us.
My daughter had struggled with shyness for years, along with learning to cope with legs that were several inches different in length. Taking ballet was her idea. She’d found the courage to take classes as a beginner with other girls who had been taking ballet for ten or more years.
Watching her dance that day was amazingly beautiful to me. It didn’t matter how she compared to the other girls. Even her teacher could not possibly know what she had overcome to get to this personal level of grace. Someone attending that class as an observer could not possibly make a judgment that was accurate about her competency or accomplishments. Then I realized only a parent who truly knows and loves their child can accurately assess their progress. So it is with God; only our loving heavenly parents can accurately assess our progress.
As I watched my daughter turn a pirouette that day, my heart caught the very instant she stopped, stood still and smiled at me. Time stopped and she was the only ballerina on the dance floor. That shining moment of grace still dances in my heart to remind me that we all have a parent in heaven watching us with great love like I watched my daughter that day.
The time between our entrance and exit on the stage of life is fleeting and precious. Those around us are dancing as fast as they can but generally no one notices. We all need an audience who knows how hard we’re trying and how far we’ve come. Instead of looking out there for applause we need to look up there. The master potter is at work and is lovingly placing the soft clay of our souls into the hot kiln of life so we can each emerge the unique shining vessels we can become.