The Story of the Four Corner Napkin

I got to work today excited, as I had finally managed to clock in on time; not only that, but a whole minute early as well! My excitement was shortly stunted as I looked into the laundry room where I would spend the next two hours and noticed that all the laundry was done. This meant that I would have to find something to do for two hours. To most this isn’t that big of a dilemma, but to me it meant that my precious time quietly folding clothes and shoving aprons in a washing machine would be revoked. My two hours in the laundry room often consists of me refolding clothes anyway, but with everything done, I suddenly felt like my favorite time of the day was suddenly grasped from me. My two hours in the laundry room are two hours that, for the most part, I can give entirely to God and just having some good ol’ papa and child time. Not only that, but I even get paid to spend quiet time there. After switching into strategy mode and dumping all the poorly folding aprons back into the bin to refold (no, i don’t have ocd) I began to feel better as not all was lost.

Eventually I began to find other things to refold and I came across some decorative towel napkins to cover the bread out in the dining center. They were appealing to the eye, red, with gold thread spun through into flowers and such. I began folding them, matching the corners together, making a crease, and then another, finally placing them back on the shelf in a neatly pressed stack. I grabbed the next napkin and matching the top two corners together, folded it and looked down at my new crease; the bottom corners didn’t match up. Without thinking I immediately turned the napkin the other way and matched those corners, creased and looked down again. I began turning the napkin in different direction, trying without success to match those darn corners… my frustration was growing, it was a small frustration, but… it was growing.

Earlier today I began to realize how downhearted I’ve been, mainly on myself, with feeling like I’m not enough. I struggle with inadequacy daily, it feels like, and constant negativity that drains me out. The thoughts that run through my brain daily are “I’m not a good enough student” “I’m not good enough to go to vet school (though mostly irrelevant now)” “I’m not beautiful enough” “I’m not good enough to disciple people” “I’m not a good enough photographer” “I’m not a good enough writer” “I’m not a good enough singer” “I’m not a good enough daughter” “I’m not a good enough friend” “I’m not good enough for love” “I’m not good enough for God”

“I’m not good enough”

In the times where I’ve felt pain in my life, it is usually always traced back to this statement that I make in my head, over and over, day after day. So do you know what I do? I try to be good enough, I start calling my mom during the week, I start inviting people to events on campus, I start trying to hang out with people, I start trying to share the gospel more at work, I start trying to do my hair nice, I start trying to love people, I start trying and trying and trying. Then something works, I’m restoring my relationship with my mom…. YES!…. I forgot to call my dad and wish him a happy easter…. DANG IT!…. I didn’t fail this exam… YES!!!!….. I studied too much and didn’t spend time with people…. DANG IT!!…. I spent the last two weeks entirely with God’s people…. YES!!!!…. I am now failing my class…. DANG IT!!!! I keep trying to match these corners up in my life, but whenever I do, I turn the napkin and find out my corners still don’t match up. I stopped and took a better look at the napkin in my hands.

Turns out the four corner napkin isn’t square. It  has diagonal edges, made impossible to match perfectly together without the help of something outside of it. I began to see my life like that four corner napkin, with diagonal edges and broken seams, trying endlessly to match up my four corners together. If only I’d take an outside glance and see that it is geometrically impossible, I’m just not a square. Not only that, but I can never try hard enough to make myself one on my own, I’m lost, powerless.

Jesus came to seek the lost though, and gave his life for ransom.

Romans 5:6 says “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for all the ungodly.”

In Philippians it says “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

The battle against sin and struggles in life can never be won by self-determination or positive thinking, only by the spirit.

With God’s help my napkin corners will go through some trimming, maybe some beating, but ultimately he makes my napkin corners fit together perfectly. For we are made perfect in his image.


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