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Shot Of The Day

Life Outside the Plastic

I go to the grocery store. I buy a Styrofoam black or white or green square curved at the edges so the fruit or meat or whatever “whole” food contained inside can be showcased. The fruit, held hostage to the Styrofoam by saran wrap, is in the beauty contest of her life. The stakes are high; get picked and used for the purpose for which she was designed — to nourish someone — or stay on the shelf to slowly expire a mushy unused mess. The beauty contestant, in this case Zucchini, is sanitized, trimmed, washed and turned so that I can see only her most attractive side. The inevitable dents, bruises and worm holes are resting against the opaque foam walls. Wouldn’t want to frighten off the buyers with the harsh reality of imperfection, now would we? After all, the host of this contest, the seller, wants winners. Wants every contestant to win the prize — to be put to her highest and best use — nourishing someone else. No matter how many times I play this game at the grocery store, I’m annoyed when I’m unable to poke through the plastic and see the whole story. Inevitably, the harsh reality of imperfection is revealed when I get home and the hidden parts are pulled away from the foam cover-up. So, hold that thought while we flash forward to Barcelona this summer, walking through the Boqueria, an amazing fresh market buried behind a cover-up of commercial store fronts where I spot this basket of… hmmmm???, I don’t know yet. What appeared to be flowers in the middle of a vegetable cart drew my attention like someone had fishing line tied to the lens cap reeling me in along with my camera. In the second I had before my travel mates yelled “come on Kat, you can’t photograph EVERYTHING,” I concluded that the whatevertheyares were either out of place or my mind was about to be delighted with a new discovery. Risking being left to find my way alone back to the hotel, I settled for a flirty click with the shutter and moved on promising myself that I would look closer when I got home. It’s months later. I’m home. I open this file and I realize, it’s Zucchini. And I’m cracking up thinking everybody will think I’ve lost my mind when I admit that I can’t help but declare, Zucchini is gorgeous! I spent an entire childhood being force fed this stuff, chopped into circles and steamed to a wet and soggy watery state. Yuck. I’m certain if I was being rolled through the grocery isle as a child and saw the whole zucchini story I would have wanted to git-me-some. The whole package, the way GOD designed it, told a different story than our sanitized, trimmed up, efficient, way of repackaging life. We are all made, imperfections and all, to nourish others. Our husbands. Our children. Our friends. Perfect strangers. But we spend so much time trying to repackage what GOD gave us that we miss out on our highest and best use. It is the imperfection in all of us that makes our usefulness an utter miracle. It is the fact that GOD takes these imperfect vessels and uses them in perfect ways that makes us know that there is something more epic going on in this life than our own pathetic comfort, glory or fame. As my friend Stephanie loves to say, the truth is good enough! The truth is, the WHOLE picture of our lives, with our imperfections, is what GOD wants to use to nourish others and in turn, ourselves. He uses it all, if we’ll confidently walk around in the package he gave us instead of letting the world repackage us for its opinion of our highest and best use. It’s exhausting hiding your imperfections and pretending that your “best side” is the whole story of your life. It isn’t. It’s only the part that you can control. The rest of it, the imperfect parts, are the parts that make others feel normal around you. And it’s the part that gives people hope that they can have a highest and best use, because if GOD can use an openly broken vessel like you, then others start to imagine he can use an openly broken vessel like them. What’s your highest and best use? What were you born to do? Made for? I bet it doesn’t involve getting rid of or hiding your imperfections before you dive in and go for it! Don’t stay on the shelf and expire a mushy unused mess. Live outside the plastic!

Posted: 16 October 2010