Gertie. That was her name. To me she was Grandma Eisaman, and she lived right across the street when I was a young girl. She was famous in our small town of Irwin, PA for both her engaging personality and her mad baking skills.
Her specialties? Pineapple upside down cake, cinnamon sticky buns, and apple dumplings that were served piping hot in a bowl a la mode. (I just drooled on my computer.)
She was most famous, however, for her homemade bread. Breathe it in and smell it with me. It was melt-in-your-mouth magic.
When I was about eight years old, Grandma taught my sister Elise and I how to make her homemade bread. I still warmly remember so many of the details. We used a large yellow Tupperware bowl, Crisco, Fleishman’s Yeast packets, hot water, sugar, lots of flour, and a pinch of salt.
Elise and I worked the process.
We mixed, kneaded, formed, and baked the bread just like we were taught. And each time we did, the house took on the smell of heaven and every neighbor and visitor was happy to share in the bread-love.
Beyond baking bread, another great lesson that we learned from Grandma Eisaman is that adversity does not define us.
When she was just 58 years old, grandma had a massive stroke that paralyzed the entire left side of her body. She lived the final five years of her life handicapped, yet chose not to be defined by her limitations.
Life was hard after the stroke. Getting around took a good deal of effort. Her face didn’t look the same. It drooped on one side. Her body didn’t cooperate. I’m sure that was frustrating. Her life-pace had to slow down.
Even still, she fought through adversity and, over time, learned to walk with a cane, and even re-learned how to drive her car (with a few modifications). How cool is that? And she went on living. She continued to play bridge with her friends, was a leader at her church, and she baked.
Though her life took an unexpected and challenging turn, Grandma Eisaman continued to laugh with, bless, and serve others… at church… in the community… and in the kitchen by baking and giving away countless loaves of fresh baked homemade bread.
Her significance was not defined by her challenges.
Her significance was not defined by her limitations.
She knew who she was in the eyes of her Creator. The One who knew her before she was even knit together in her momma’s womb.
Do you know who you are?
Do you know Whose you are?
Do you allow your challenges, your past, your thoughts, your experiences, or your limitations to define you – or do you allow God to determine your significance?
The struggle with finding significance looks different in each season of a woman’s life. A college student might search for validation in her sorority or GPA, a young mom has to fight to find her importance in stinky diaper changes and 3am feedings, while an empty nester or single sister might try to find success in leading a Bible study or in her volunteer work.
No one understands the insecurities of a woman like another woman. I’m with you in the battle, friend. I’ve wasted a fair amount of time in my own life searching for significance in the approval of others and of God.
The secret to our significance is found in the heart of God.
In His heart for us.
Here are a few reminders from the Bible:
Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31)
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness… So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:26a, 27)
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
I’m a woman of many fleshy failures. Imperfect as they come. I’ve got challenges, frustrations, and insecurities, just like you, that bid to define me. But ONLY GOD has the right to define any of His creations. The Bible teaches that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) – and that God has a purpose for every life, and His purpose is fully centered on HIS glory, not ours.
We can make sense of our significance based on Whose we are, not on what we can or cannot do. Not on what our boss says, what people around us say, or what our culture says. When we allow our significance to be found and defined in the grace of Jesus Christ, we gain a fresh, and compelling understanding of our incredible value.
And if we can bake awesome homemade bread too – all the better.
Dear Lord, Help me to accept that You are the One who gets to define my significance. I really want to get this! Please sift through my thoughts, doubts, insecurities, and emotions that leave me feeling like less instead of more. In Jesus’ name, amen.
FOR YOUR RESPONSE and REFLECTION:
Don’t gloss over this message! Consider where you really are with this. Reflect. Repent if needed. Respond to God in prayer. Go deep with Him. And be honest. God can handle your honesty.
LET’S TALK ABOUT IT: CLICK HERE to LEAVE A COMMENT answering this question: What is the biggest challenge when it comes to believing in your personal significance? (And while you’re leaving a comment, tell me about your baking specialty!)