I recently had the privilege of speaking at a women’s conference in Hilo, Hawai’i at a tea party no less. You might be thinking- “tea parties in Hawai’i how strange.” Dresses, pearls, hats, tea, finger sandwiches, cookies, etiquette, and fellowship abounded.
I believe it was a first and the women had a blast, myself included. We talked about the history and tradition of teatime in England but, more importantly, we talked about God. I’m learning, there is no event or subject exempt from the Lord- including a tea party.
In preparing for the event, I came across a story about a teacup and the word “perception” was highlighted to me. I began to wonder- what’s the difference between perspective and perception? A perspective is a point of view while perception is the interpretation one gives through awareness. With perception one gains a different perspective with understanding.
I believe God wants us to consider our perceptions- especially when it comes to ourselves and God. How we see ourselves considering who God is and who He made us to be! The perception of truth because where there is God- there is truth. There is understanding.
With that said, I want you to read this story and consider the word “perception:”
The Teacup Story- Author Unknown
There was a couple that used to go to England to shop in the beautiful stores. They both liked antiques and pottery, especially teacups. On their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, they went into a beautiful shop and saw an exquisite teacup. They asked the clerk, "May we see that? We've never seen one quite so lovely."
As the lady handed it to them, suddenly the teacup spoke. “You don’t understand,” it said. “I haven’t always been a teacup. There was a time when I was red, and I was clay. My master took me and rolled me and patted me over and over, and I yelled out, ‘let me alone,’ but, he only smiled and said, ‘Not yet.’
Then I was placed on a spinning wheel and suddenly spun around, and around, and around. "Stop it! I'm getting dizzy!' I screamed." But the master only nodded and said, 'Not yet.
Then he put me in the oven. I never felt such heat. I wondered why he wanted to burn me, and I yelled and knocked at the door. I could see him through the opening, and I could read his lips, as he shook his head, “Not yet.”
Finally, the door opened, he put me on a shelf, and I began to cool. 'Ah, that's better, I said. Then he brushed and painted me all over. But, the fumes were horrible. I thought I would gag. ‘Stop it, stop it!’ I cried. He only nodded, ‘Not yet.’
Then suddenly he put me back into the oven, but not like the first one. No, this was twice as hot, and I knew I would suffocate. I begged. I pleaded. I screamed. I cried.
All the time, I could see him through the opening nodding his head and saying, 'Not yet.'
Then I knew there wasn’t any hope. I would never make it. I was ready to give up. But the door opened, and he took me out and placed me on a shelf. I waited.
An hour later he handed me a mirror and said, ‘Look at yourself.’ And I did. I couldn’t believe my eyes and said- ‘That’s not me, that couldn’t be me. It’s beautiful. I’m beautiful.’
Then the master replied- “I want you to remember, I know it hurts to be rolled and patted, but if I had left you alone, you’d have dried up. I know it made you dizzy to spin around on the wheel, but if I had stopped, you would have crumbled. I knew it hurt and was hot and disagreeable in the oven, but if I hadn’t put you there, you would have cracked. I knew the fumes were bad when I brushed and painted you all over, but if I hadn’t done that, you never would have hardened; you would not have held. Now you are a finished product. You are what I had in mind when I first began with you.’”
Jeremiah 18:6 “ “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand.”
I look back over my life and see many times that I had the wrong perception. I didn't need a new perspective I needed to see beyond to the understanding. Take, for example, my desires as a young airman right out of boot camp as I filled out my "dream sheet" of where I wanted to be stationed. I selected all East coast locations close to my hometown. I did not want to be sent anywhere overseas or cold. Where did I end up for my first duty assignment? You guessed it- one of the most remote coldest places on the planet- Alaska! Can I just say, words don’t give justice to how upset I was upon getting this assignment? I tried everything even contacting my Congressman to get out of it! Hindsight is 20-20 because that assignment was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I met my husband of 31 years, had my beautiful daughter there, learned how to survive far away from family and friends, got to take an F-16 incentive flight, and experienced the wonder and beauty of the arctic tundra. All along, that first assignment was a preparation for where I am today- in another remote part of the world far from family and friends. A grooming process that God knew I needed. It might not have been exactly like the oven in the story but, let me tell you 60 degrees below zero in the pitch black of night 24/7 is no picnic!
Back then if I would have had the right perception- understanding that God had a perfect plan for me and I could trust Him, I would have navigated that season far better and it would have saved me a lot of tears and anxiety!
An adjustment of perception can make a profound difference in our lives whether it is facing an impossible situation, dealing with a difficult person, or being disappointed or heartbroken everything shifts when we seek understanding. Understanding that comes simply from knowing that God is real- He is good all the time and that His plans and timing are far superior to our own.
When He tells us “not yet” it is for our good.
As we can only be who God made us to be when we trust Him.
And we let Him shape us.
“Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.” Camille Pissarro