When you feel defective. . .

I am brought up short by the question of Psalm 139, “Do you think of yourself as God’s artwork, his masterpiece?”

All too often I criticize myself for lack of energy, for inability to respond quickly and fluently, for. . . just about anything. I see myself as defective, not “wonderfully made.”

Why, Abba?

Have I been brainwashed by the world which values physical beauty and productivity, riches and small talk and ability to think quickly and work intensely more than relationship and stillness and joy? Do I, like the world, fear limitation and equate weakness with deficiency, failing to see from the perspective of the cross?

Is there a part of me that sees myself as self-made? “Yes, life is a gift, but I have also achieved through hard work and self-discipline.” . . . And then when the results don’t match the world’s standards, do I suffer the cracking of pride, feeling ashamed because I have failed in my self-creation project?

To live in sync with who we truly are means to recognize that we are dependent on God for our very breath and are graced with many good things; it means to be grateful to the giver and attentive to the purpose for which the gifts are given. (Miroslav Volf, “Free of Charge,” p. 36)

It means to recognize that the details of each personality are hand-chosen, gently woven with ultimate wisdom and tender care into the depths of our souls.

So, on this Multitude Monday, I’m celebrating the gifts of personality, those gifts placed deep into each by loving hands.

I’m celebrating my extrovert sister who connects easily and gives extravagantly and can hold many people in her heart and make each feel special by her way of celebrating them.

I’m celebrating a friend’s clear view of concrete reality, her common sense and quick action that gets things done.

 

And I’m enjoying the hidden treasures of introversion, the stillness that likes space and hates rush, that treasures “richness” over “muchness,” that sees beyond what is to what might be.
God knew we need both. We need extroversion to keep us connected, to help us celebrate and feast and enjoy life’s extravagance that God pours upon us. And we need introversion to help us appreciate the depth of the hidden reality into which we’re invited, to be able to hold ideas and let them grow and develop until they are ready to be born. Each of us is a different blend of the two. And each expresses a small part of God’s nature that encompasses all.
All is gift. My friend’s ability to fearlessly pick up the phone and get things done is gift. My comfort with silence is gift.
There is freedom in receiving all as gift. For when all is gift, I can appreciate the beauty in myself without pride. It is nothing I have done, nothing I have earned. It is sheer gift. I discover myself free to love the beauty in someone else without comparisons. I can admire my sister’s ability to speak freely, and I can accept my own struggle to find words, recognizing that too as part of the gift, the gift that calls me to listen and think and answer from the place of stillness.

Listen. When you hear that critical voice, see if you can also hear the voice of the Father reminding you that he likes the way he made you.

holy experience

Today I’m writing in community. If you would like to read other thoughts on the endless gifts, click on the button above.