Thursday, March 25, 2010

Being Me (and being you)


image courtesy of photobucket.com

On Tuesday, I wrote a post for the blog carnival entitled “Faithfulness – To thine own self be true”. In it, I made the following statement:

For the most part, I enjoy being me. I now understand after years of fighting to be like someone else, it was never God's intention that I be anyone but myself. I fought it for years, seeing only my shortcomings and rarely my strengths. But somewhere along the way, I figured out God can use our weaknesses just as well (and sometimes better) as our strengths.

In the comments section, Bonnie and Melissa Rae asked about the line, “But somewhere along the way, I figured out…” How did I figure that out? There’s not a short answer to this question. It’s been a process. It continues to be a process.

The journey began innocently enough. I was 24 or 25 years old. I was watching a segment of 20/20 about Attention Deficit Disorder in Adults. I’d never even heard of ADD, but as I watched the stories of others struggling with the same feelings of inadequacy, low self worth and pain, I knew without a doubt they were describing me. I wasn’t looking for excuses, I was looking for hope.

Shortly after this broadcast, I made an appointment with a psychiatrist. I took a long, verbal test to confirm if I had ADD. The test began with some questions about my work habits in school, etc. Simple enough. Then the doctor began asking me math problems. As I type this, my face is beginning to feel flush remembering how full of shame I felt. I could not calculate simple addition in my head. I broke down in tears, and he concluded the test. He didn’t need more to confirm his diagnosis. I was referred to a therapist to help me understand my condition and to learn to live with it. When I walked into her office, beautifully framed in gold was this poem by Veronica Shoffstall:
Comes the Dawn

After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security,
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,
And you learn to build all your roads on today,
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans,
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure...
That you really are strong,
And you really do have worth.
And you learn and learn...
With every goodbye you learn.
That was a major turning point. I was approaching life completely wrong. I was attempting to gauge my self worth based upon what others thought of me. In that epiphany moment, I understood what I believe is a core truth: You can be surrounded by loving, supportive, caring people (or not) and yet you are still ultimately alone in this world. We are created to live in community with one another, yet at the end of the day, it is you and your Creator who understands the depths of your soul.

Strip away all the things people think define you, and you are ultimately left with what you know to be the truth. That despite how flawed you may be, God put you on this earth for His glory, and He has already equipped you with the tools you will need. It is up to you to hone these tools, and get to work on your Father’s business. "To thine own self be true?" Yes. Absolutely.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10

24 comments:

L.T. Elliot said...

Weeping at this, Kathy. Thank you.

Marty Duane said...

I admire your honesty in this post.

Your comment about God using your weaknesses? I don't feel like this is a weakness in any way, but I love how you have used it to teach people that we don't have to be perfect for our Father to love us.

I'm so very thankful for that, and if I were a man of hugs, I'd sign this comment with "Hugs and more hugs" but I'm not so....

Casual Fist Bump,
Marty Duane

Jewda said...

I read everything really quickly on Tuesday, and it seems in doing so that I missed one of my new favorite quotes:

"For the most part, I enjoy being me. I now understand after years of fighting to be like someone else, it was never God's intention that I be anyone but myself."

That could be the thesis statement for a paper about my transition out of the Independent Baptist Church into a more progressive, nondenominational environment. I think being Baptist is great, unless we're talking about me. I think I'll go blog about that now. Thanks for the inspiration.

Janet Oberholtzer said...

I'm sorry for those years of pain/confusion you had.

Thanking God with you for the hope you found and thank you! for sharing it with us.

Like this thought ...
"We are created to live in community with one another, yet at the end of the day, it is you and your Creator who understands the depths of your soul."

As I struggled post-accident with finding peace in my 'new normal' and being frustrated that family/friends didn't understand everything I was dealing with, my counselor told me basically the same thing. Once I realized Jesus was the only one that would understand some of my struggles, I was able to stop putting pressure on others (especially my husband) and our relationship improved.

Thanks again for sharing this part of your journey!

kirsten said...

that is a giant challenge you've offered: 'strip away all the things you think define you.' A huge, critical challenge that all of us must do if we are to reach any peace at all.

This is a moving, powerful & wise post. Thanks. Off to share it with a friend who needs it more than most this week.

♥ Kathy said...

That was beautiful. Truly.

HisFireFly said...

"That despite how flawed you may be, God put you on this earth for His glory, and He has already equipped you with the tools you will need."

You've taken my breath away. Thank you for your beautiful words, and the reminder that we are His, for His use.

Boy Crazy said...

Wow, Kathy. This is really moving. And that poem! I need to write it out and tape it up. I admire you for sharing your experience, and with such grace.

Lovely post, girl.

-elizabeth

Billy Coffey said...

Remember that other post I said was the best thing you've ever written. Never mind that, because now this one is.

Becky said...

God put you on this earth for His glory, and He has already equipped you with the tools you will need.


adding this to what I already heard this morning...thanks

Candy said...

Four words I never thought I'd say: Katdish made me cry.
Dang, girl. Simply amazing.

Annie K said...

I'll admit, I didn't read Tuesdays post (yet) but I'd have to agree with Billy in that this is by far the best post you've ever written. And I for one am glad you are yourself.

Maureen said...

Very moving, Kathy.

Everyone should be so lucky to read a poem like that.

Annie K said...

I'll admit, I didn't read Tuesdays post (yet) but I'd have to agree with Billy in that this is by far the best post you've ever written. And I for one am glad you are yourself.

Bridget Chumbley said...

You are truly inspiring,Kathy. Thanks for sharing such a personal part of your life with us. I know it will touch many, just like it touched me.

Marni said...

Okay, now I'm crying...

And I love that poem. Someone gave me a copy of it after Courtney went to Heaven. It moves me to chillbumps every time I read it.

And may I add, that I too have taken the ADD test...and failed. My doc is a long time friend. I wanted to cry at the humiliation, but instead, he got me to see the silver lining by letting me know I could get help and I wasn't crazy. He did it by moving his rolly stool very close to me, looking at me with compassionate eyes, and very softly and tenderly said to me "How messed up is it that I had to give a spaz like you a really long test to complete in order to be able to say you are a spaz and can't complete long tests?" I almost wet myself laughing with him. And it was a great day to know I wasn't crazy (or at least, not in that way)

love you girl!! Great post. Thanks for laying it out there.

jasonS said...

We're all glad you're you and that you share your gifts and talents with this community. Thanks Katdish...

Melissa_Rae said...

Thank you for writing this! I felt silly asking the question, because how do you ask someone else how to be you. It seemed contradictory. But this is exactly what I needed to hear. That poem is so inspiring and I need to print it out. It really does just come down to God and me. I am constantly looking to others for encouragement, support and approval. It doesn't pan out because I never am satisfied; because what I need can only come from Him. Thank you again for sharing this personal story.

Sandra Heska King said...

Oh Kathy! I'm the mom of 2 adopted, now grown, kids--both with ADD. We struggled so long to find hope for them. And now my granddaughter has also been diagnosed. Trying to meet the world's (and school's) expectations takes so much energy. Our kids were labeled as "disruptive" instead of "different." God doesn't create "all-size-fit-all" children. People with ADD are some of the most interesting and fun people I know!

Monica Sharman said...

Thank you very much, Kathy.
I would not have had the wisdom to make the appointment so soon after the broadcast.
Thanks for honoring us with your openness. You always tell it like it is. :)

FaithBarista Bonnie said...

I'm with Coffey.

This is the best post ever, Kathy.

Thank you for sharing this personal story. Powerful.

"So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure..."

I need to do this right now...

Mary Aalgaard said...

Thanks for sharing your story. There is a whole world of people who will benefit from hearing/reading it.

Helen said...

That really was beautiful.

That poem spoke a truth I seem to have already known in my heart, but needed to hear. Thank you.

JML said...

I mean this in the most serious way, but who would you be without your flaws? I mean, they're mostly all perceived anyways, right? Right. Thanks for sharing KATHY!!!