- Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
- Jeremiah 1:5
Last week, I was in physical therapy chatting happily with several patients. I do this all the time. I have gotten to know most of the other patients well in the last 7 years. I know their family members, their kids, their struggles and triumphs and they know mine. I actually don’t dislike going there at all. My physical therapist and his wife are actually close friends. My brother even worked for them for 5 years before he went on to physical therapy school himself. It’s not uncommon for the whole clinic and all the patients and therapists to be in a conversation that includes every person in the room. Most of the time this is actually really neat and sets this particular clinic apart and above the rest on my scale. It’s hard to find a place where so many people care about each other. That being said…one of my deep insecurities reared it’s ugly head. In the middle of laughing and chatting with another female patient, something caught my eye. An older man who is a newer patient, was using his one hand to make a hand puppet hand motion that portrayed a, “these ladies are cluck clucking way too much,” hand motion. His face was annoyed and he was doing this to another older man who I know well. I think he was half joking…I said HALF joking. I said, “Hey mister, I see you boys out of the corner of my eye. I see what you got going on there with your hand.” I laughed, but inside I felt myself flush with some mild embarrassment.
When I was a kid, I was occasionally told that I talked too much. I remember a few particularly painful instances when I truly wished I was not the way I was. I wouldn’t notice I was being different than anyone else until someone said something about it. I didn’t always talk too much, it was just at times. Ironically it got worse when I got really nervous or felt like someone else was uncomfortable. I’d try to take the focus off that and lighten the air. Though my intentions were good, it usually ended with me embarrassing myself and feeling really awkward. Thankfully this tempered quite a bit as I matured, but I still find myself feeling insecure about it at times. I tend to get so excited about what someone is saying, and the fact that I feel something in common with them, that I interrupt them without meaning to. It drives my husband nuts, but he loves me and knows it’s not because I don’t want to hear him finish. It’s just because my mind starts moving so fast, I don’t think about the fact that I’m accidentally cutting him off. He teases me about it, but he knows I think his thoughts are every bit as important as mine. I really try not to do this, but it happens. I know my best friends sometimes have to put up with this annoying quality, and I love them all the more for it and for knowing it’s because my brain moves so fast from subject to subject that it comes spewing out like word vomit. BFF’s and family…if you are reading this post, thank you so so much for loving me in spite of this uber annoying trait. It’s a hairy personality mole.
As an adult, I’ve found myself more comfortable with who I am, but this fault is one I still feel somewhat self conscious of. I remember telling my Dad that I must be an extrovert because I talk too much. He actually told me he didn’t think so. He said that when I am trying to make someone more comfortable or keep conversation flowing, I talk a lot, but it’s usually about funny stuff or random stuff and not deep personal information. He told me that he thought I was an extroverted introvert, because I still need a fair amount of alone time to recharge, and I pick carefully who I share the nitty gritty stuff with. Introversion and extroversion have more to do with how you recharge, than the amount you talk. I have taken the Myers Briggs personality test a few times and I am so close to the line between introvert and extrovert, that it seems to depend on my mood the day I take it. I am extroverted, but only by a little bit. I think this explains why I had full on palpitations, broke out in sweats, and had waves of nausea, the week before my book came out. The knowledge that some of the actual deep personal struggle I’ve faced, would be served on a platter to everyone, made me very nervous. Even now, with each blog post I write, I try to be careful. I have a nervous pacing soul every time I hit “Publish.” Ugh…the “Publish” button gives me tummy butterflies.
I guess what I am getting at, is that sometimes I forget that God knew the weaknesses I would have when He was adding a cup of talkative, a tablespoon of zealous, and a dash of sass, to the pot O’ Amy He cooked up. I have these weaknesses that surface when I expect them the least. I found myself suddenly angry on the highway today, because someone refused to let me over to my exit. I called them a turd right in front of my daughter who laughed and said, “MOOOOooooom…..” Grrrrr. Amy, why does driving occasinally bring out a side of you that is certainly uncomely? A hairy personality mole I cannot hide to the eyes of God. Every time I apologize and tell myself I won’t slip like that anymore, I somehow find myself sarcastically muttering, “Thanks ya turd,” to the stubborn soul in the little black car. It forces me to see myself for the very flawed humanoid that I am.
I sometimes get real angry at this body. I feel betrayed by it’s failing parts. It is constantly causing me to go see physicians. Here is where irony stunned me today. This soul betrays me too. I find myself regularly slap fighting the natural man that I battle within myself. These soul ills…these spiritual weaknesses I fight, regularly cause me to seek out the Great Physician. The only one who can strengthen me to fight these ills, or cure me. So as God was stirring the Amy pot, He already knew what would be needed to keep my soul coming back to Him. His mercy, sprinkled these faults in, so that I would not forget that I need Him. You see, we need Him whether we accept it or not. Without Him, we perish, but with Him, we are saved. He knows exactly the qualities I need to possess to remind me that I am a mere human and He is an almighty God. The trick knee of my soul, keeps me from thinking I can run faster than I aught. The uncomely traits, were given in love, to remind me that I need God. They were not given to set a trap, they were given to be a reminder. In the wise words of the apostle Paul, who suffered with a thorn of the flesh:
2 Corinthians 12: 6-11
6. For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.
7. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
8. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
11. I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.
Ahhhhhh….now I’m getting it. Whether a thorn of the flesh or a thorn of the spirit ails us, these weaknesses bring us back to the one we need the most and remind us we have exactly nothing handled all by ourselves. We can’t remove our weaknesses any more than we can grant ourselves reprieve from death. We are certainly supposed to overcome sin, but unless God removes the trait from our personality, we must fight our own weaknesses. These things remind us that He is God and I am not. We have created nothing and we cannot fix ourselves. The good news is, our Father in Heaven created all and He can help us overcome our weaknesses because He is not weak. Let me paraphrase the words of Paul for myself. If I hadn’t been given these weaknesses, I would probably find myself way too high on my high horse for my own britches. I have this thorn in my britches instead. It’s a pain in the booty, but it’s saving my booty from crashing off a high horse, I had no business being on anyway. So I’m going to thank God for these thorny britches because they are saving my bum. I certainly don’t think of myself as a prophet but I sure do need to learn from one. Thank you Paul.
Last year my son was taking Spanish for the first time in middle school. My husband took him to meet the teacher night. My husband said he looked down and on the schedule he read, Spanish- Dr. Jesus. He confusingly said to our son, “Dr. Jesus? Your teacher’s name is…Dr. Jesus?” Our son laughed till he was out of air. He said, “No Dad! Haha! Her name is De Jesús.” He said this in the proper accent. Suddenly this made much more sense. If you think about it though, we all need some Dr. Jesus time. He is the one who has shown us that even though he walked perfectly, he walked among apostles with weaknesses and he had the mercy and patience to endure that. He knew when he chose them, what their weaknesses were, and he chose to use them anyway. He can use us too. It’s ironic that we are patients of a Great physician. We are the PATIENCE of the Great Physician. Yeah, I know, I spelled it right. I meant to say it that way. It is amazing that God sprinkled in these faults. He is so patient with us. Enduring and walking with us as we learn. I feel like I am learning all the time and I feel so much smarter than I was 20 years ago. I imagine in 20 more years, I’ll see this young version of myself as a moron. God is infinite. How on earth can you encompass and eternity’s knowledge? You can’t. He knows it all and it all makes perfect sense to Him. This is exactly why our souls need, and want and long for His presence. Need is built into us through weakness and it was given in love and mercy. It’s to remind our soul where we belong. With Him.
I took the picture above, the day before yesterday. I was at a stoplight and glanced down at that bumper sticker and it struck me. I was feeling my weaknesses especially in the body that day. I love how God always gives me puzzle pieces, but doesn’t show me how they fit together until the right appointed time. I heard theses scriptures about Paul in a sermon on Sunday, and then had this experience in physical therapy. As I sat down to write, it all began making perfect sense.
I guess if I didn’t talk too much, I wouldn’t have a blog or a book or most of the awesome friends I’ve made…so I guess I will be a little glad for my big mouth even if it prompts a grouchy old guy to mock me in physical therapy. Can’t win em all. Actually, thanks for the grouchy old man too…he sparked quite the thought train, even if hearing me yack about it would be too much for him. To you awesome people who made it to the end of this post…thank you for enduring a glimpse of my hairy personality mole. Thank you God, for loving me… hairy moles and all.
2nd Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.