One of my favorite lines in all of children’s literature is in the first chapter of Little House in the Big Woods. As Laura Ingalls Wilder paints the picture of her early family life, she describes the dolls that she and her sister Mary had.
“Mary was bigger than Laura, and she had a rag doll named Nettie. Laura had only a corncob wrapped in a handkerchief, but it was a good doll. It was named Susan. It wasn’t Susan’s fault that she was only a corncob.”
Susan, just the thought of Susan, struck me to the core as a child, and I often think about her now as an adult. Wilder manages to pack more humanity into a corncob, more motivation and reason for her existence, than some of us can muster for others, and sometimes, even for ourselves.
Because, you see, we've all been Susan. We're here, we matter; we're cherished and loved. We're making a difference in someone's life, project, daily work, or family. We'd like to think of ourselves as Nettie -- the fancier doll with yarn hair and the cloth dress -- but we can't always be.
Sometimes we have to be the corncob, wrapped in a handkerchief, because that's what's needed. And sometimes, that's all we can provide.