When I got married, I filled out a registry. A wish list. It had on it all the things one would expect–dishes and cookware, sheets and towels.
All of them, sets. Matching.
Off-white plates with flowers around the edges. Matching cups. A set of cutlery. Glasses that complemented. Things designed carefully to look good beside each other. That wore a uniform. That were all the same in their perfection.
Over the years, plates and bowls and glasses have gotten broken. Cutlery has, somehow or another, vanished. This piece and that piece have been lent out and forgotten. Over the years, our collection of dishes has been subtracted from and added to.
Now it’s a hodgepodge. It’s a mixture. A motley array of mismatched this-and-that.
And I love it.
I’ve heard before (though I don’t honestly remember from whom) the statement, “I just want dishes that match!” At the time, I commiserated. This seems like a good thing, you know?
But when I pause to think about it . . . which coffee cup is my favorite? The Disney mug I bought for myself when I was 14. The one that has no match. Is part of no set. The one that’s unique. It fits my hand, and I like how much it holds. I’ve even caught myself, when in a rental house for vacation or in my church kitchen, always seeking out a mug that’s different. That won’t be confused with anyone else’s. That’s unique and inviting.
Still, I was somewhat surprised when my kids, a couple years ago, began the following conversation:
Rowyn: “Can I have that spoon instead of this one? That one’s my favorite.”
Xoe: “Really? I don’t have a favorite spoon. But I have a favorite fork. It’s the one with the stars on it.”
Rowyn: “You can have that one. I like the little one with the flowers.”
I smiled as I heard them talking oh-so-seriously about which of the mismatched cutlery they preferred. Why?
Because they both favored the unique pieces. The one-of-a-kind ones. Yes, that’s part of it.
But also because only then did I realize that their favorites were my least favorites. That the ones that don’t please me aesthetically for one reason or another, they find beautiful.
And that this is something I never would have learned in this particular way if all my silverware still matched.
When we’re surrounded by the same, we’re not given the chance to find our preferences. When we have only that perfect set, there isn’t room for individuality. When everything matches, nothing stands out. Not that there’s anything wrong with a matching set of dishes, LOL. It’s certainly a handy way to buy something you need.
But there’s something so beautiful in the mismatched. There’s something freeing. Something encouraging.
Because I don’t know about you, but I don’t quite fit in a set. Right? We’re all a little different. A little off. A little bigger or smaller or cracked. We’re different colors. Different shapes.
And that’s how we’re supposed to be. Because different people find different things beautiful. We have different needs. My favorite will not be yours, necessarily. And that’s good. That’s right. We all appreciate different facets of this beautiful world. For different reasons that invite us in different ways.
God didn’t create much of anything in neat, orderly sets. He created a wild profusion of beauty. He created the this-and-that. The hodgepodge. Mismatched. Mountains and valleys, rivers and seas, deserts and rain forests. And He declared it good.
I’ll probably never have a matching set of dishes again, much less cutlery or glasses. And you know what?