The Little Red Hen
I've been reading a lot of challenging, beautiful and encouraging words lately. I've always been a lover of books, and, in the last few years, of blogs. Blogs, to me, make the time between books seem less long. They give me something to chew on. Many of my favorite bloggers read each other and I hear echoes of them from post to post, they link, they rave and they introduce me to new friends from time to time. I love reading these wonderful, processed words.
But I also have my own blog. You likely know this, you are reading it now.
On this blog, I am trying very hard to consistently write about life: the good, the difficult, the things I'd rather not say. I am trying to do this with grace. I am trying to say something that has meaning for someone else.
Sometimes, when I read all of these wonderful words written by other people, I wonder if the world needs mine.
I have been a writer since before I could write my own name, when I dictated effervescent journal entries to my mother. I have been a writer since before I wrote my first syrupy romance novel when I was sixteen. I have been a writer since before I went to college to be a creative writing major. I am very much afraid that I could not stop writing even if I tried. Even if I walked away from it.
I have had many conversations like this with creative people. This leads me to believe that insecurity is a common struggle for us. If so-and-so is doing something good, similar to what I do, why am I bothering to do what I'm doing? They are older, more polished. They have a better testimony, a cooler website and much more life experience. Maybe I should be quiet and let somebody else talk.
One of my favorite children's stories is the one about the Little Red Hen. It's all about work ethic. The little red hen finds a piece of wheat and she wants to make some bread. She asks all her animal friends to help her and they decline at each stage of the work. Then, when the bread is done, she asks for volunteers to help her eat it. All of her animal friends want to help with this part. But the little red hen eats the bread alone, after all, she did all the work.
At each stage in the story, she asks for help, they refuse and she says: "I'll just do it myself."
According to Wikipedia, there is endless political debate surrounding this book (who knew?) But that is not what I'm getting at.
I don't want to be the little red hen.
Yes, she works hard and gets to enjoy the fruit of her labors, but she is all alone. In the book, it all works out fine, but in my life, things don't turn out great when I say: "I'll just do it myself."
I want to stop and think about bread for a moment. Maybe you're picturing a nice warm loaf of French bread, a crusty roll, an herb biscuit. Maybe your mind is wandering toward sweet breads, muffins or (my personal weakness) cream-cheese danishes. Bread comes in all shapes and sizes and tastes. Bread is not one size (or occasion) fits all. I would miss each of these kinds of bread if they were missing, even if the whole rest of the bread world remained.
I am like that bread.
And so are these encouraging people that I read. So are you. Without me, without them, without you, cinnamon rolls and pasta and sourdough would be missing. That would be a shame.
What if all of the characters in the little red hen did what she did? Maybe they went home, inspired by her work ethic and they made their own bread, all different kinds, and ate it alone? Or what if they saw what she had done and they thought that since she had made bread, why should they bother?
I fight this impulse daily. I fight to remember that God made me, and He gave me my story. I need to be obedient and tell it. It's not about the results I can see, or about my idea of what success is. I can't complain because my tree isn't producing fruit like the other trees. My fruit will look different because I am different. But it may also look like fruit. (Does the apricot feel like a failed peach?) I am certainly not one to complain that mangoes and kiwis and avocados were all created for us to enjoy. God made them, and He made me, and he made all the other people who write books and blogs. He certainly seems to think that we are all needed.
Blessed be His name.