I remember receiving a greeting card one time with the caption “Lost Glasses Support Group.” The gag was in the image: all the people sitting in the circle had a pair of glasses pushed back on top of their heads.
It’s not always easy to find what you’re looking for, even if it’s at the tip of your nose or top of your head.
Writing greeting cards seemed like one of the things I should try to do, and I did. Along about 2003, I wrote greeting cards for a season. I had made a connection with someone who managed freelance writing submissions for a certain company. After passing her preliminary test, I was added to her group of writers.
Every couple of months, she would email to this group a spreadsheet with images and instructions on the kind of caption to write for each image. If my caption was selected, the card was produced and I was paid a set fee, I think, 60 days later. Or at least a good while later, as I recall. However, given that I was in a group of writers, with each caption, I was potentially competing against 30 other people who also received the same spreadsheet and who were also writing captions for consideration.
There were some benefits to this experience. I liked my contact at the company. Plus, Target carried the company’s line of cards, and I eventually saw a few there with greetings I’d written. Also, oddly, one time I saw a card I’d written in the gift shop at the Montgomery Zoo. That was the pinnacle of my greeting card career. My contact left, I didn’t want to do it anymore, and I moved on.
So, should I be disappointed that my foray into greeting cards didn’t go better than it did? Or be grateful that I had a chance to give it a try? It depends on how I measure the experience, and this is part of a bigger issue. Which hopefully you have been able to avoid – or will do so henceforth.
Sometimes I judge things I’ve tried as failures or misfires because they were without an identifiable reward. Therein lies a lot of struggle for me: the creation and the criticism. Or my own version of beauty and the beast. I am drawn to an idea, a notion, a concept, a call, and I begin to create (let’s call that beauty), and somewhere along the line I begin to measure its value (let’s call that the beast).
Is this familiar to any of you? It’s probably easy for us to say to someone else: “Cut that out. Don’t be so hard on yourself.” But probably harder for that voice to come from within. At least that’s been my experience. So let me jump ahead and tell you the ending.
In the story, there was one thing that connected the two — love. Love heals the alliance between beauty and beast. Therefore, include love in the equation. Such as the fact that God loved you from the beginning, and during everything thing you ever tried.
The Measuring Bar
These are three things I have sought: a sense of worthiness, a sense of belonging, and a sense of purpose. They are tied to each other, and from these needs is derived my creative and religious expression. The problem I bring to these needs is the manner in which they are measured. Indeed, one of the first pieces I wrote for public consumption with my byline attached was entitled “The Measuring Bar.”
The idea was based on my experience working in a paste up and typesetting shop (long time ago). My desk was a drawing board with a measuring bar at the base. I had been using this bar as a guide for getting lines straight when my co-worker said to me, “Of course you know that bar’s a little off. I really need to fix it. It isn’t straight.” Even then, at 22 years old, I was struck by how this thing I had counted on to provide an accurate measure was inaccurate, and I recognized a certain truth: it is not possible to get things right if the guide used as a measure is wrong.
It’s hardly a novel concept that many of the measures imposed on earth won’t translate very well in the hereafter. But this friendly reminder may be of use: as measuring bars go, you’re probably not that accurate. So do what you do, pursue what you pursue. Just don’t let that thing be the thing that tells you what your value is, or whether you belong.
Further, love will be just as important in the eternal as it is in the here and now. You won’t need faith any longer, once you see by sight. Hope will be history, no longer a necessity. But God is love; that’s what the Bible says. And surely our beautiful and beastly qualities will meld together quite nicely – perfectly, you might say – when in the presence of His love. So why fuss so much at ourselves now?
Back to the point… how do you find what you’re looking for? Here’s what I’d recommend: See what you see right where you are. You are in the glorious here and now. And each day you have the opportunity to travel within the attentive care of your Creator. So please, by all means, enjoy your magnificent journey knowing that He is at your side cheering you on.
— Minnie Lamberth
The Magnificent Journey, Vol. 1, Issue 5