King Solomon, I thought, had it easy. Too easy, in my opinion.
In a dream, God asks King Solomon what gift he'd like. And Solomon can choose anything - courage, strength, even money or fame. He chooses an understanding heart. Wisdom, so he can make good decisions for his people. And God is so pleased with Solomon's choice that He gives him every other good gift, too. (See I Kings 3:5-15.)
Though I liked the fact that Solomon chose an understanding heart instead of being greedy and wishing for lots of money, the whole thing still seemed a little unfair to me. Why wasn't God coming to me and asking what I wanted from Him, I wondered? I had a whole list of things if He only would. To be better at loving, for one thing. More patient, for another. And then there was humility, grace. Throw in an understanding heart, too - I could use it, I thought.
Everybody has things they wish they could be better at. One of my friends, for instance, was very, very shy. She didn't want to be this way, but she didn't know how to be any different. She could have used the kind of help God gave Solomon, too.
But that kind of help, I thought, wasn't for regular people like my friend and me. Only for kings in Bible times. And boy, was I unhappy about that.
You see, for the longest time, I felt inadequate no matter what I did. Like I wasn't good enough. When I looked around me, all I saw were people who were kinder, stronger, more loving. And so every day, I tried to be better. I asked God to help me be better. But even when I worked really, really hard on one of those qualities I felt I wasn't the best at, I still felt I was coming up short.
Until one day when I read the story again and it hit me: Maybe I was reading it all wrong.
It occurred to me that perhaps Solomon's story isn't so much about how special Solomon was that God would offer him all these gifts. Instead, it shows what it takes to have an understanding heart - to be graceful and loving and wise. And much to my surprise, I realized that what it takes has nothing to do with being a king or living in Bible times or even being "chosen," singled out for special gifts.
All you need is a willingness to say, "God, I can't be anything on my own. Show me how You made me."
How God made me. That's it, I realized. The problem lay in the way I was looking at myself. I thought I was someone who was good at some things and not at others. That I'd been given some gifts but was missing out in other areas. But that just didn't add up when I thought about what I'd learned from reading the Bible and another book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." Both those books have taught me that I was made in God's image, that I'm His reflection.
Solomon didn't get an understanding heart from God. When he turned to God, he found that understanding heart. It was already part of him as the reflection of God. So what that story was asking me to do was this: to accept that God was giving me everything I needed - each moment - to do whatever I needed to do. Everything I needed to live as His image. If I needed to love, Love, God, would be there, helping me. If I needed strength, the strength of God, Spirit, would be behind me, strengthening me.
I felt like jumping up and down when I realized this: God was asking me what I wanted from Him - and telling me that I already had it!
Now when I'm tempted to feel bad because I think I could be kinder or smarter or more loving, I stop - and remind myself of Solomon. You can, too. Because the God who made each one of us in His very image doesn't play favorites or make mistakes or leave anyone out. Instead, He loves us into seeing that we've got everything we need to be our best. And that being our best is easy - because God never made us to be anything less,
I will give them an heart
to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people,
and I will be their God.