Yesterday, it was my little sister Ellen’s birthday (Happy Birthday Ellie!), and my family celebrated by going to Seattle’s Spaghetti Factory. We were seated with a lovely view of Seattle’s new sculpture park and the waterfront, and across from us, two young women were seated. The young woman facing me was strikingly beautiful, with long blond hair, a shapely form, tasteful makeup, expensive clothes, and manicured nails. She had the most infectious smile that was contagious, and she never seemed to stop smiling. However, one of the first things I noticed about her was a gigantic gap in the middle of her two, top front teeth. This gap put David Letterman’s teeth to shame. I wondered if she had a piece of lettuce wedged in there or something, simulating the disfigurement. However, I was sitting close enough to be reasonably certain that she simply had one of the largest tooth gaps that I’ve ever seen in my life.
Do you know the feeling, when there’s road kill or an accident by the side of the road, and you know you shouldn’t look but do it anyway because you can’t help yourself? Well, that was my problem. I couldn’t take my eyes off the gap. The young woman didn’t seem to notice my blatant staring, which was fortunate for her, since I was being so rude. I wanted to know why in the world she kept smiling so wide. I mean, if she didn’t have such a huge grin all the time, nobody would notice such a gianormous gap.
Then, I realized, she doesn’t care. She’d embraced her gap and was willing to let it shine. It was part of her personality and her face, and she didn’t let it detract from her beauty. As I was realizing all of this, I was becoming more and more convicted, guiltily slurping down my plate of spaghetti. There was a lesson here, a lesson that harkened back to my trip to London several years ago.
In London, before you enter or exit the subway train, you hear a voice over the loudspeaker say, “mind the gap.” In British English, this means, “watch out for that huge crack between the pavement and the door, lest you fall in and get squished when the train moves” (You’ve got to love those Brits for succinct language). I heard that voice saying, “mind the gap,” and I realized that most of us naturally mind gaps, especially in other people. We look for the flaws, the lack, the ways people are inadequate, and we can’t help but focus on those things.
Can you imagine what would happen if your eyes roamed for surpluses or blessings, instead of minded gaps? You’d have more opportunities for praises, less for condemnation, and you’d probably be a much nicer person to be around. I know that I’d prefer a friend who looked at my strengths and not so much at my flaws.
We have a God whose eyes see all our gaps and surpluses and loves us just the same, because he made us that way on purpose:
For you created my inmost being;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
When I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
Your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
Were written in your book
Before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139: 13-16)
A friend of mine recently recommended this Psalm to me (Thanks Judy!). It speaks powerfully about God’s perfect plan for our form. May we all have eyes that are mindful of God’s design. We’re all “fearfully and wonderfully made.”