Playing Small

The other day, after only being at work for a few minutes, I heard the words that slapped me in the face. Every time, no matter the circumstance, this string of words stings.

“You need to take your meds.”

This is a variation of another shot to my heart, that sounds something like:

“Chill, you’re freaking out.”

Now, I’ve told you many times before that my personality can be too much for some people. I have grappled with this concept my entire life, and probably always will. Although realizing you are uniquely and wonderfully made can be very powerful… it can also feed a deep set insecurity that some part of you was/is a mistake. That you come up short, according to society’s standards. Id love to tell you that I fall into the first group, but sadly I’ve lived most of my existence trying to suppress the parts of me that others don’t find acceptable. Because the sad fact is I DO fall short by many worldly standards. And if you focus on that, like i often do, then it’s no wonder you get down on yourself. This story is not about this particular topic, but it does set the scene. I was at work, feeling comfortable enough to be myself, and I was shot down. I don’t believe this person had malicious intent, but just as you would never joke about someone’s physical disability, calling attention to the need for medication due to a mental condition is equally taboo in my book. (Was that a run on sentence?) I responded the way I’ve learned to over time: apologize and retreat. Suppress and mold my spirit to a version more acceptable. Not the healthiest choice, but more on that in another post.

It was right about this time, as I was quietly checking schedules, that my day took a turn for the weird. It was the kind of scene you expect in Greys Anatomy, but not on a lazy weekday. The hospital makes people do crazy things, and this was worst case scenario. I won’t go into detail, and I don’t need to in order to get my point across. It was a volatile situation, and something needed to be done.

I could tell you that I was a superhero in that moment, and knew exactly what to do to save the day. That would be a lie. But I did do something. In that moment, I heard my purpose spoken over me in heavenly tongues. I myself have walked through fire, and I am meant to turn around and go back through it for others. Sheesh Jesus, you couldn’t have picked anything easier?

Everything in me wanted to let someone else handle this. But I looked at this situation, and I saw fear. I saw a human being, without any defenses. I saw me, at times in my life. And probably you, too.

So, I walked directly into the line of fire. Not because i wanted to, but because i was meant to. I don’t remember much of what I said, but most of it was Jesus talking through me anyways. I do remember praying out loud, in a hallway full of strangers. Praying out loud has always made me nervous. I’m pretty sure I just repeated the same sentence over and over, changing it slightly with each repitition.

Each step forward was a process, but I was bought in. I didn’t know this person, and I still don’t, but I am learning what it means to love people. ALL people. Even the really scary ones, having really bad days.

My new friend and I finally walked to a safe place, hand in hand, and they went to sleep. I stayed, because I promised I would. I rubbed my friend’s forehead, because Gatlin loves that (and honestly who doesn’t?) When they finally woke up, there was no memory of what had happened. I kind of wish my bad days ended with a good case of amnesia… but we can’t all get that lucky.

Why do I tell you this? I know it was vague, but I hope you can follow me. I tell you because I am a person that has to learn by doing. You can preach to me in every language known to man, but I have to try it, sink or swim, for it to really stick. The same is true for my purpose and identity. I have to see it played out, I have to hear it spoken to me, in order for it to surface. Is that true for you too? Are you introspective enough to dig deep into your soul, and tell yourself who you are? I hope you are, but I need life altering moments such as these. Standing in a familiar place, on an ordinary day, something extraordinary happened: I was reminded of who I am. I am nurturing, brave when I need to be, and patient when it’s hard to be. I would never have used any of these words to describe myself before. You probably have a lot of qualities you wouldn’t dare give yourself credit for. Ask about them. Ask Jesus to remind you of who He made you to be. Another helpful tool? Write them down. On your mirror, taped to your refrigerator… do what you gotta do. But don’t you dare let the world tell you to be small. Don’t believe for one second that you were not wonderfully made by Holy hands. The story I just told you was my ah-ha moment; Now, find yours. It’s not hard to hear this truth being spoken over you, when it isn’t being drowned out by a cacophony of what you are not.

I took this last step, this “writing-it-down” step, to new heights. I’m dramatic that way, and I’m not sorry for that anymore. I tattooed the word Beloved on my side. It still makes my grandma shake her head, with her lips in a thin, straight line… But I needed it to be permanent. You see, beloved means “close to the heart.” I am, and always will be near to my Father’s heart. A magnificent, Holy heart that has room for little-ole me. And you, too. You may not know your purpose yet, but rest assured that you have one. Even if it’s only revealed to you in tiny moments…in brief flashes of eternity. You were made for more than playing small. You were made out of love, in order to BE love. So, pass it on.

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