"Maybe I was made this way
To think and to reason,
and to question, and to pray
And I have never prayed a lot
But maybe there's a loving God..."
- Sara Groves
Is it possible that we are, who we are, for a divine reason? That what might concern a teacher, a counselor, a family member, or a coach...an odd behavior, a strange interest, or a puzzling disinterest...is really, the very thing makes us special?
Growing up, I was like a bookworm on speed. I lived for books. I loved them so much that I spent every lunch period, I could, in the school library. Books were my friends, my home-away-from-home, my other family...books were where I lived. I had no desire to play. When pushed out the front door for a game of kickball, I would hide a book under my sweater and disappear into a tree or behind a bush to read, until called in for dinner.
The school librarian was always my best friend. I cried when the middle of May approached, and I knew that summer break was bearing down on us. I never liked holidays or breaks. I loved school, because school meant unlimited access to books.
And that wasn't my only oddity. I liked to be alone. I liked to be in the dark. I wanted to be a nun from the first note of "Allelujah-ah-ah..." that poured out from the convent walls in "The Sound of Music," and I ached for the silence of Audrey Hepburn's cell in "A Nun's Story." It didn't hurt that they never had to wonder what they were going to wear each day. And that they never had to put their hair up in rollers!
I loved the night time...hearing the house breathe was one of my favorite sounds, and could most easily fall asleep if the vacumn cleaner was running...and I wasn't the one running it. But I also loved cleaning, doing laundry, and ironing. I was a neat freak who thrived on simplicity, beauty and sparkly lights.
I would do my chores extra fast on Saturday mornings, so that I could watch Shirley Temple movies with the express purpose of having a good cry...it felt cleansing, and healing, after a long week of facing the social horrors of being the littlest girl in my grade.
I loved writing words and watching the ink, or pencil lead, flow onto paper like beautiful music. I loved poetry and soup, blue flowers, and butter yellow cottages. Horses, music, art of any kind, ballet...and don't get me started on quote-gathering. The sound of the sea and the weight of old quilts...any time of year.
I adored my family and still do...all of them...the ones I grew up with, the ones I have participated in nurturing and watching unfold and grow, and the ones that continue to form and evolve through friendship, camp, school, church, community, and service. And I am devoted to my children....all of them...without measure, or hierarchy.
As a pre-teen I practiced being blind and deaf for whole days...just in case...and I was almost excited by the possibility of endless hours of darkness and quiet. And I was at my happiest reading in our bottom bunkbed with a box of red hots at my elbow, and my sister's blanket hanging over the edge to block out noise, and light, and people.
And although I didn't sing outloud for many years (someday I'll write more about why) I could memorize the words to every song on the radio, the first time I'd heard them. And I loved, loved, loved just lying in the quiet - anywhere - enjoying the company of my own thoughts...hanging out with God...my version of prayer. Did I say I loved being alone in the dark? I still do.
These are the "affections of the heart" that have been changeless for me. These are the things that have told me who, and what, I honestly am. Or as Mary Baker Eddy says,
"We should examine ourselves
and learn what is the affection and purpose of the heart,
for in this way only can we learn what we honestly are."
When I heard Sara Groves' song "Maybe there's a loving God," it made me cry. I so wish I had believed as a child, teen, and young woman, that who I was, was perfectly perfect. That I was, as Mary Poppins said, "practically perfect in every way!!" I wish I had really known that I was already a perfect me, especially since all along, I was only trying to discover what it meant to be me. I wish this for every child on earth.
It has taken me many, many years to give myself permission to love this me. To cherish and honor her. To smile at her in the mirror each morning, and shake my head with baffled affection, and amazement at how remarkably wonderful she is...just the way she is.
It has taken me too long to realize that I don't need to be a "sporty girl" or someone who loves a good party...unless it includes great heart-felt conversations and time in the kitchen with the host, or the dishes. I don't have to be less "high maintenance" when I order my meal at a restaurant...and yet, I can always "have whatever she's having." And I never need to laugh with less abandon...never, ever!! I don't have to be anything but who He has made me to be, and has given me an affection for being. I am that "I am," that God has moved me to be. From the infinite well of His abundant good, He has drawn me...with loving kindness...like a precious and rare cup of cold, refreshing water.
I am beginning to trust that if I am supposed to evolve in new ways, God will move my heart in those directions. Not out of dissatisfaction for who I am, but with a new joy, a fresh interest, an awakening affection for an, as yet, undiscovered facet of who I am. I already know this is true, because at some point He added, "beating my husband and son...soundly...at Scrabble" to my list of affections. So, here I stand, with arms wide open waiting to embrace whatever comes next.
Till then...I am going to trust that He is a loving God who has made me exactly as He wishes me to be. I will trust that I am, as I am, for a holy purpose...and so are you.
Kate Robertson, CS