We had our first snow this week. I know! It’s only September!!
I pulled out the bag of knitted scarves and gloves from the back of the closet. Sorting through the pile to match gloves to prepare for an early winter I found 2 pairs of mittens.
I don’t wear mittens much anymore. And my kids have outgrown theirs. But seeing them always reminds me of myself.
I can’t say when it started, but as far back as I can remember, I’ve felt like a thumb on the mitten of life. Not part of the “in the mitt” crowd. A little isolated.
Our family moved around a lot, changing locations, states, even countries, almost every year of my life due to my father’s military career. Don’t get me wrong, I feel blessed to have lived in so many places. It was cool to be able to say I’d seen the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Mediterranean Sea and the Eifel Tower. I was a world traveler by age 6. But gaining a worldview at such an early age brought tradeoffs as well.
Plunked down in a new school every year, you either learn to meet people quickly or become a loner. I tried both. I could be the center of attention or the quiet one away from the action. I’d find a role to play – the helpful servant, the funny storyteller, the sympathetic listener. There are lots of “people” you can be in a group, without truly being yourself.
Even if I threw myself into the role and enjoyed it, I’d often leave feeling disconnected from everyone else who was there.
There have been a few times in my life when, for a short period, I got a taste of being “in the mitt.” I felt a closeness and warmth from other people; acceptance, camaraderie and fellowship. But the circumstances of life are constantly changing, teaching that even if I am not the one to move away, other people can, and do. And things change even between friends who remain in the same location. So it didn’t last.
I’ve met other “thumbs” and found that there are a lot of people who feel alone, like the odd man out. Sometimes they’re the same people who look like they’re in the mitt.
So far, I don’t have a total understanding of it, but there are a few things I’ve learned that are encouraging.
1 – There is no one person or even team of people who can meet all your needs. For lots of reasons:
We don’t tell them our need We drop hints desperately trying not to appear needy We don’t even know what we need They don’t know how They don’t have the time They don’t have the energy They don’t have the resources They think they’re already meeting our needs They’re meeting the needs of other people They have their own needs They don’t want to
2 – God wants us to go to Him to have our needs met
He knows our need even when we don’t He knows how He is capable He is never too tired He has unlimited resources He wants to He can meet our needs creatively – extraordinarily – extravagantly! He can give us acceptance, approval, understanding, forgiveness, support, encouragement, connection, purpose, love…that will last for eternity!
3 – Thumbs are a blessing. We need our thumbs. And the world needs thumbs!
It’s opposable – and can reach across the hand to easily touch each of the other fingers. Not so for the rest of the mitten! Just try (without the aid of a second hand) to touch your pinky to your pointer! Not very easy.
As a thumb, I can be a part of different groups of people, and move in and out of their circles easily. I can sometimes relate better to the individuals in each of these groups when I’m not so close to them. Being mittened with them might not give me the flexibility I need to reach them.
If you’re a thumb, or even just sometimes feel like one, be encouraged! You are not alone. You have a loving God who is able and wants to meet your needs. Turn to Him in prayer, read His Word, and listen for His response.*
And use your unique position to reach out to others and connect in ways that can support and bless you both. Seek out and pray for other thumbs you may know. I’m praying for you now.
A prayer for all the thumbs.
Dear Lord, thank you for making thumbs. Thank you for giving us the ability to be used in mighty ways to relate to people “in the mitt.” Thank you that we stand apart. Give us courage in that separateness, and camaraderie with other thumbs. Strengthen us to be the one who reaches others, and helps meet their needs. But also, give us a real sense of Your presence with us so we don’t feel so lonely and alone. We need You. Thank You. Amen