We have a room in our home that is small and warm. It smells good and hums with energy. Most of the family wanders through at some point during the day or comes looking for me assuming that’s where I’ll be. “I’m in here,” I say, and they track me down to the space just off the kitchen. The whole family benefits from the goings on there. A lot of items come into the room, I mean a lot, but they may take a while to leave. This makes the space kind of cluttered, but I go there often anyway. Sometimes we become frustrated because we can’t find something we need, but we usually get past our hang ups once we locate the lost item. We turn the lights off only at bedtime. But I don’t read or write or even watch tv in the area because there is no seating. It’s not a sweet little nook. It’s the laundry room.
Until recently, I really didn’t enjoy my time in the laundry room. I went through the motions of washing and drying clothes. The clutter comes from my distaste for folding clothes until the baskets are literally spilling over. The searching usually involves someone’s need for socks. I even expanded the laundry room into the side garage in order to have enough space to hang up some of the clothes for the six of us. Obviously, laundry is an unending chore. So, while my time in the laundry room may occur in small increments, it adds up over the years. And occasionally I felt the time was wasted, even though it was necessary time spent.
A few months ago, I looked around at the blank, cream colored walls in the laundry room and suddenly realized it didn’t have to be this way. I could decorate the laundry room, and I could decorate it any way I wanted. I’d collected prints and quotes over the years but hadn’t known where to display them. The pictures that I’d gathered appealed to me but were not suitable for decorating the general areas of the house. So, the prints accumulated, unused, hidden away in a stack in our office. Now, I knew exactly what to do with them. I bought a box of tacks and arranged the sayings and drawings on my laundry room walls. I didn’t measure the walls or try to center things exactly. I put them up in a way that pleased me, and it didn’t matter what anyone else thought. The walls now speak to me every time I go into the laundry room. The words inspire me. The artwork soothes me.
I’ve reclaimed the space, and in so doing, began to wonder what time and space I’ve failed to fully utilize in other areas of my life. I think we’ve all experienced situations when we’ve hidden away our talents, stayed silent, or played small. And by talents, I don’t mean artistic ventures only. I mean the ability to bake a pie, make others feel welcome, tend a garden, teach a child, paint a room, create a spreadsheet, balance a budget. We are not authentic when we deny our talents. Either we don’t see the opportunities, or we don’t seize them when they present themselves. Maybe we are scared of being vulnerable or hurt. If we take a risk and try to use our abilities, we may fail and that’s a miserable feeling. The fear of failure can be paralyzing. We keep the walls of our lives blank and our talents hidden away.
And what does God want for us? He wants us to be true to ourselves and embrace the gifts he has given us. He longs for us to splash our talents all over the canvas without overcalculating or waiting too long. To understand that even the mundane tasks in life might be better if we look at them through the unique prism he’s granted to each of us. He knows how scared we are of failure (especially me), but hopes we still try even without guarantees of success. Perhaps in the effort, we find out something more about ourselves and our skills and trust our God a little bit more even if we feel like a flop at the time.
We can look for ways to reclaim our days in small ways. By pulling out those hidden talents, we create beauty, light our imaginations, and inspire others. We become more authentically ourselves and more faithful to God at the same time. Let’s look for the blank spaces that are waiting for our individual contributions and infuse them with our creativity, our ingenuity, and God’s love.