Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Who I am

For our second birthday after we married (which, for those of you who don't remember, fall on July 30 and 31), Beve and I were given tennis rackets by his parents. By the way, because I have this strangely precise memory, I can also tell you that they gave us pillows for our first. Anyway, Beve's parents knew their son loves (and excels at) all kinds of ball sports. And they even knew I'd taken tennis lessons a time or two over the years. That, actually should have been their first clue. I'd needed tennis lessons--more than once, at a most elementary level. Anyway, Beve and I took those tennis rackets out for a game exactly once. One single afternoon. That day I watched my very coordinated, very athletic husband go from playing tennis to teaching tennis, to batting tennis balls gently across the net while his poor hapless, definitely uncoordinated wife managed to miss or send into the net or send sailing over the fence tennis ball after tennis ball. I felt so badly for Beve that I almost cried. It wasn't that I was so terrible--I already knew I wasn't any good at tennis. It was that he was light years better and hadn't a chance on earth of playing sports with me. Probably any sport, come to think of it. Afterwards, I suggested that he find someone else to play with. He tried to tell me that he loved playing with me, but those tennis rackets never got used again.

Years later, while on a family vacation, my then 8-year-old son picked up a tennis racket for the first time to try his hand with it. Across the net was Beve. Beve came back to our condo and said, "You need to watch him play." By that afternoon, I was sitting on the sidelines watching J put spin on balls that he should have been missing with regularity for someone who'd never had a lesson. It was clear he'd gotten his eye hand coordination from his father rather than his mother. Thankfully.

Yes, thankfully.  I've never been a jealous type. Not about such things, anyway. I mean, it would be ridiculous to be jealous or envious that Beve (or J) is a better tennis player than I am. I'm glad they're good at sports--just don't make me hold them up.  I grew up in a home of very smart people. And shared a room with one of the smartest. When I was in high school, teachers would stop me in the halls to tell me how smart this sister was. Teachers I'd had the year before she did. "You aren't much like her, are you?" One asked. I laughed at that comment, because it was so glaringly true. And how proud I felt to be her sister. I couldn't compete with her brain, and didn't really want to try. I loved that she was one of the smartest people I knew. That she still is.

I bring this all up because a friend asked me yesterday if it made me jealous that Beve said that my friend was the most beautiful girl in our high school rather than me. I began to laugh.  How ridiculous a question. If he'd have answered my name when I asked him, I'd have rolled my eyes at him because we'd have known he was merely being loyal. Not because it was anywhere in the same ballpark as true. I'm not looking for that from Beve. I'm not looking to be someone I'm not.

This morning I was thinking about what Paul means when he says, "Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ." (1 Corinthians 12: 12). It means that even in these ways, we are given gifts for a purpose. Athletic talents, intellectual ones, the gift of physical beauty. Or creative talents.  And these gifts are His. We're born with them and must assume that they're purposeful. For me to look at someone else's and wish for that is to decry His purpose for me. And it's critical that we understand that HE is the one who determines why we are what we are. He forms us. He gave us beauty or ability because He intended we use it to glorify Him.

And to build up His body. "The body is not made up of one part but of many." I need whatever you are, however you've been made, just as you need me.  I'm thankful that I don't have to be or do or have it all. Thankful that we are in this together, that we get to rely on each other for the gifts and talents each brings. So the one with the good eye can see, and the good arm can swing and the good mouth can speak. We need each other.  That's the word of 1 Corinthians 12.

However.
We are expected to EACH cultivate 'the more excellent way.'
1 Corinthians 13.  The way of love.

I've been thinking that for the however-long-it takes (interspersed with my usual musings of life around here) I'll delve into this chapter. This tends to be read as the great text at weddings, but I kind of think it's the great text of living as His disciples. We'll see where it takes us, shall we?
Oh, I guess you don't get a vote.

For today--who and what you are is from Him. In every sense. Be thankful for it. Look for ways to allow who you are to impact those around you.
For tomorrow-desire a more excellent way.

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