Developing All My Second Bests

G.K. Chesterton says in his Emancipation of Domesticity, that a woman who has made the home her domain, “may develop all her second bests.”

I just love that. It is a happy happy thing.

I’m not the best at anything. I’m not a professional anything. I’m not being falsely modest, nor am I saying that I’m terrible at everything. I’m simply saying my duties are broad and therefore, it’s hard to get narrow in the way professionals do. I’m a stay-home mom who loves to write, take pictures, knit, and does none of them all too well. I mother, teach, cook, clean, train, love–and as much as I’d like to be a contestant on The Taste, they’d probably be appalled by my Minnesota Taco.

I laugh when I think of holding up what I do next to what someone I admire does. Every now and then I write something that feels insightful (to me) about parenting or some such thing, only to read a book on parenting that says everything I could have wanted to say and with all the grace and humor I so rarely am able to say it with! Thank you Rachel Jankovic!

And yet, I’m undeterred in my 4 year (thus far) blogging adventure. Wonderful blogs and incredible parenting books haven’t pushed me to quit. Why? Because being the best isn’t what matters. Using my gifts does though.

Writing is a way for me to take a step in the right direction. It’s a step of faith. It’s taking a seed and planting it–it’s not looking at the seed someone else planted and the subsequent mighty oak or blossoming cherry and thinking, “I don’t imagine I’ll ever be something that great, so I guess I’ll just hold on to this seed.” I don’t need to be great! God is great! And He intends for me to be spent in the strength He supplies. He’ll take care of the outcomes.

God is a God of small beginnings. He’s not disappointed at all my second bests, he’s enabling them! Indeed, Chesterton says that, “there must be in every center of humanity one human being upon a larger plan; one who does not “give her best,” but gives her all.”

So, I give my all in my writing, although I may never have time to make it my best (which would be significantly worse than many other’s trash bin of edits!), and I give my all in cooking (though I learn by hook or by crook in puddleglum fashion), and in parenting (a sticky mountain of dishes and laundry washed daily with grace, and sometimes soap), in homeschooling (though there will always be million good things that we can’t do), in taking pictures (I know nothing and can never promise results), in knitting and crocheting (my ornament creations were ridiculous and so-noted), in cleaning and organizing (chuckle, I do try!), in music (because not everyone can be great, we need someone to make the sopranos feel good) and in a million other things where I’m putting myself out there, knowing full well that life isn’t the kind of competition that you have to come in first in order to count.

I count because I’m numbered among the counted–it’s all Him. So bring on the freedom of second bests. I’ve been called to serve in one hundred interesting and mundane ways through this life of domesticity and mothering. I get to engage them all, by God’s grace, whether I shine or squeak by.

The world is full of talented people, by God’s design and kindness. He’s given me a portion to work with–I’m not going to sit on it because it isn’t as big as the next person’s. Some people out there have a whole mountain of raw material to work with and they’re making mud pies with the manure. Others have attempted to fertilize 1000 acres of corn with their small round manure hill of abilities. And if my small beginning should have a small middle and a small ending, He’s the God of that too.

My last name means, “small round hill,” or “small round man,” –the translation’s a bit tricky, being of English origin naturally. All I know is I’m going to give my all with the small round hill o’ Dodds that I’ve got.

Hobbits are surprising little things, after all.


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