Wednesday, November 16, 2016

37 Years of Greatness

Today is an extremely important day. On November 16, 1979, God blessed our broken world with Edwin Roy Attaway, and today we celebrate the 37th anniversary of that blessing.

I honestly cannot tell you what this man means to me. I've never known a more servant-hearted leader or a more loving friend. (I've also never known anyone quite as cheap, but this has also been a blessing at times.)

He follows Jesus with everything he's got, and he holds nothing back. He takes nothing for granted and expresses gratitude for every blessing he receives, even hardships.

He has given his life to serve the church, and he has made more sacrifices than anyone will ever know. He is an amazing father who takes extreme amounts of delight in picking out the best toys for his kids (within a given budget, of course). He is patient with his children and church members. He has high expectations for himself and seemingly endless grace for everyone else.

He makes me better than I ever could have been alone. He lovingly shepherds our family into the greener pastures God has prepared for us. He prays with me and for me, He's my very best friend, and I'm grateful for the last thirteen birthdays that I've gotten to celebrate with him.

He isn't perfect. He isn't my savior. But he's an amazing gift from my Perfect Savior, and I cannot imagine life without him.

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Thing About Bad Handwriting

I have terrible handwriting. The longer that I write, the worse it gets. My hands cramp. I have to use different pens in different widths when I'm taking notes for a long period of time.

I always wanted that pretty, flowing handwriting that girls in my grade had. I didn't understand how they spaced their words and letters so perfectly. I didn't understand how they made their hands create such pretty letters with so little effort.

My teachers were equally confused, but most of them had a theory. Some said that I was too lazy to write neatly (despite the fact that I had excellent grades and always knew the content of their classes very well). Some said that I was too impatient. Others said that I just didn't care about neatness.

So I would try as hard as I could to write neatly. I quickly found that the neater my handwriting, the less that I understood about the material being taught. After about fifteen minutes of trying, my hands would be so tired that my handwriting naturally devolved into its unfortunate sloppiness.

And I was left feeling pretty terrible about myself.

I kind of thought that maybe my bad handwriting was actually a character flaw, something that made me less than all of the other girls with their pretty, flowing cursive.

It wasn't until I started learning about hand strength and motor skills and perception that I discovered that my handwriting is what it is. It's sloppy, but it has nothing to do with how hard I try or how much I care. I have bad handwriting because God created me with weak hands and poor area perception. It isn't a character flaw, after all.

Now I have a daughter with weak hands and poor area perception, and this time around, I know what to say. I explain to her teachers that her handwriting is what it is. Occupational therapy may help a little, but at the end of the day, it isn't a matter of effort but physical ability. So far all of her teachers have understood and have been wonderfully patient in trying to interpret my daughter's hieroglyphics.

Here's the thing: everyone has bad handwriting. Maybe it isn't actually handwriting. Maybe it's their ability to learn material. Maybe it's their home life. Maybe it's the way their breath smells or the kind of clothes that they wear. But everyone has something.

Everyone struggles with something that is simply a weakness in who they are, and it can be very easy for those who don't struggle in the same area, it can be very easy to assume that it's a character flaw or moral failure. It's easy to assign motive and intent from the outside looking in, but it's even easier to get it wrong.

I can remember when one teacher in particular diagnosed my poor handwriting as a sign of laziness and carelessness. I remember trying to write more clearly and neatly on the next assignment. I remember the feeling of failure and freakishness that came when I failed.

Maybe you already have your own version of bad handwriting in mind as you read this. If so, here's what I'm going to tell you, dear friend: You're not a failure and you're not a freak simply because you don't meet everyone's expectations. Do your best. Focus on using your strengths to fulfill your purpose instead of trying to be perfect at everything. Prioritize character over performance. Do everything as unto the Lord. Then let it go.

Because there's always keyboards. It's okay if you still can't understand a Shakespearean sonnet. You can create a new home that functions differently than the one where you grew up. You can buy mouthwash and new clothes.

But there's only one you, and you are so much more than your weaknesses might lead you to think.