A number of years ago, I found myself staring at a list of things a “friend” had shared with me, about me. Tears blurred my eyes as I wrote them down on a paper.
This was a typical Matthew 18 moment. You know, where a person is offended and goes to confront the other person. I’d had a lot of experience with these in my conservative Christian college years. This one was a little different, however. I knew there had been a toxic thing at work in the circle of my friends and had seen that like all diseases, it would not be resolved without application of medicine: in this case, real truth. But the problem was, the toxicity had spread. There had been gossip and triangulating (A talks to B about C, then B and C don’t know how to hang out anymore) and misunderstandings and A LOT of hurt feelings. Truth was nowhere to be found.
I had spent hours praying over these friendships and resolved to let them go. I told these women that I loved that I would step out of the community because I couldn’t make what had gone wrong right again. Honestly, I couldn’t even see clearly what all went wrong. The confusion and frustration were affecting me, my marriage and my kids. It was time for me to step away and be God’s girl, my husband’s wife and my kid’s mom. I was devastated and sad and lonely.
It was just after this proclamation, that she decided to come to my house, with an older friend and a notebook filled with issues she had with me. We sat down and I began, “I want to say first, that I don’t know what I did wrong, what I did to hurt you, but I know I must have wounded you deeply for you to stop talking to me all those months ago and I want you to know, I am deeply, deeply sorry. Please forgive me.”
Her response? She told me that I hadn’t done anything to her, per se, nor had I offended or sinned against her. BUT, she took issue with me on about twenty items that she had listed in her notebook.
Since she hadn’t spoken with me or spent time with me in nearly a year, I was amazed and bewildered at her accusations. I couldn’t have been less wounded if she had punched me in the face for an hour. There was no spirit of reconciliation in that room. It was nearly airless by the time our conversation ended. I sat, bleary-eyed and confused and reeling, apologizing. What else could I do? I had, according to her, single-handedly destroyed my friendships and I was as good as flotsam on my own sea of destruction.
When she left, I wrote everything down that I could remember and showed it to Angelo, who, lovingly said, “Throw those lies away!” Which I did.
But first, I laid that list on the floor and joined it and asked God, “Please show me if there is any truth in these accusations – even a grain, a spot, a bit. Holy God, you alone judge sin and you can best show it to me.” I prayed Psalm 139 and begged him to reveal any reality that I may have missed in this anguished moment. “I don’t want to give anyone just cause for these misconceptions of me,” I prayed.
I needed God’s perspective. Isn’t it interesting who we listen to? Isn’t it interesting who we allow to define us?
In the following years, I learned how to spend real time with God – mostly because I had far fewer friends (okay, I had two) than before and because my identity had been hung on the wrong flagpole for so long it had become tattered, shredded. I needed to spend some time with the One who made me and learn to like myself again. He showed me the truth even in her accusations and gave me the grace to allow Him to show me a better reflection of myself–to show me how He sees me.
Laurie Wallin wrote in her new book, Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful,
“What if I told you that all those things about us—the wonderful and the weirdness—are gifts! What if you could sit at lunch with God, hold those quirky, challenging tendencies about you in your hands, and say, “Oh! I love these too!” What if who you are right now is exactly who God meant you to be? What if the weirdest, most annoying things about you exist on purpose—to bring life, joy, strength, and healing to this world?” (p4)
Maybe like me, you’ve been at a place where you’ve seen your tendencies or quirks, those strong characteristics in your personality, get you into some messy situations. Maybe, like me, you don’t want to hate yourself for being yourself.
Laurie presents those things about our personalities, those parts of us that seem to get us into trouble and then make us feel guilty, those quirks and individual traits that seem weird and troublesome as, get this, God’s design. She says,
“We’ve all struggled with this ideology—focusing not on our strengths but on our weaknesses—in some form. What began as a simple desire we had as kids to understand ourselves, others and the basic truths of the world became tangled in mixed messages and experiences of loss. Then it twisted into a deep source of pain and shame when we started to assign words like wrong and bad to how we naturally relate to life and people. (p6)” But, God says we’re all created in his image and “God says our design is “supremely good (Genesis 1:31).
You and your overthinking, overplanning, worrying, quirky self were made on purpose to reveal God to the world around you in a way only you can do.
In your weirdness. Not in spite of it.
How does that work? We find the answer in Scripture, where Pual, writes the message God gave him: “ ‘My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness’” (2 Corinthians 12:9). (p7)
Laurie goes on to say that the original Greek word for “weakness” here isn’t sin, but our inabilities or frailties as humans. And “perfect” doesn’t mean squeaky-clean, but complete.
Oh friend, that we might embrace our own weirdness, stand tall in the confidence that God designed us the way he did on purpose in order to bring him glory in our work, in our relationships, and even in our friendships.
Can I just tell you this? I would have loved the encouragement and clear-sightedness of Laurie’s teaching in this book when I was swimming in my own despair.
I honestly believed I needed to extricate these quirks from my life in order to be perfect enough to have a friend. I was so familiar with my weaknesses, that it took me a very long time to realize that God gave me gifts (that sometimes seem a little weird and I don’t want them, thank you very much) and he made me “supremely good”.
Yes, I sin. Yes, I brought my own brokenness to those friendships, too. But do I have to limp around in the shame of my quirks’ dark side or can I find the life-side to them, too?
Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful, by Laurie Wallin, is an incredible perspective shifter.
After reading this book, I am seeing myself, my past, my friends, my kids and husband differently. When my kids act out or we have a conflict, I can see their developing selves rejecting their weaknesses. I want to help them embrace the God-given strengths in their design. Overall, as they mature, they might not confuse their value with performance as much as I have. Perhaps this shift will help me help them to embrace their whole selves as God designed them. Perhaps the stickiness of sin and it’s confusion won’t define them, but God’s design will define them instead.
“God reduces our anxiety as we trust in him. God reduces our insecurity as we learn more about who God made us, and we start to own our designer quirks. God reuses our strengths over time, building our understanding, wisdom, and endurance as we continue to engage people and situations. God recycles our quirks, refining and repurposing them into the strengths they were always meant to be.
What relief that God has made us and the situations we face completely recyclable! God doesn’t waste anything in us or our lives. not one thing. Will you believe that today, friend?” (p60) Laurie Wallin, Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful.
Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful is now available! I read a .pdf version and I’m itching to get my hands on a hard-copy that I can scribble in and highlight! Check out her website, too, because Laurie (read about her here!) speaks and works as a life coach, too! This book is handy, helpful, well-designed and practical and at the same time holds a precious lot of truth. Go order it today!