When I hear the word “gap” I think of Leon Spinks and fourth grade.
If you don’t remember Leon – he was the heavyweight champion of the world, amazingly defeating Muhammad Ali in 1978, exactly when I was 9. You probably remember him as the unlikely winner with the huge gap in his front teeth – not a slight gap, more akin to a Grand Canyon-size spacer. In the peak of Spinks fame, timed with the cusp of my awkward pre-teen years, I also had a funny-looking gap.
Thank heavens it was nowhere near Spinks size. But all the same, it might as well have been. It was the most embarrassing thing ever to be compared to a heavyweight boxer. I don’t think I smiled once after Spinks won the title. I never forgot the humiliation of the ugly “gap."
Recently I was reminded of gaps again at a writer’s conference. In a field of 600 other women writers, it was easy to start the comparison game. In my head are all the gaps screaming out at me “her shoes are nicer than yours” or “she looks more professional than you, she probably is a better writer” to the ultimate take down “what are you doing here thinking you can write?”
Even though my teeth have since grown together (thank God), I still am constantly reminded of my gaps. The places in the heart that no matter how hard I try, never get filled in. No amount of compensating, positive thinking or smart wardrobing covers their places.
The very first speaker of the writer's conference must have picked up on the “gap vibe” as she immediately talked about how all of us feel inadequate. She reminded us that everyone has gaps and it is only our Creator that can fill them perfectly. She reminded us how wonderfully made our Maker designed us. Yes, despite our gaps, we are perfect in His eyes. My soul breathed a sigh of relief with a “thank you for reminding me.”
As we prepare for the fall season and school year ahead, it’s a great time to remember we all have gaps. Our kids have gaps, our families have gaps, our friends and teachers have gaps. But divine love fills in perfectly. So next time we start focusing on our spaces, we can breathe a deep sigh of relief. With that breath, we can remember gap-filling grace.