By Janet Keefe
I had an incident at church. On my way up to do the bible reading for the day, I tripped and went sprawling on the floor, in front of the whole congregation. I hate to admit it, but it’s not the first time I have done this. I fell over backward when I got baptized; when I first entered the baptismal font, before the pastor actually got to say a word other than “Are you OK?”
I got to my feet on both occasions, blamed it on the traction of my shoes and carried on like nothing happened.The truth of the matter is that I am incredibly clumsy. I have come to learn that it is part of the ADD that I struggle with. Unfortunately, I carried the embarrassment of these incidents in my mind for the rest of the day. I was going to work on day two of beating myself up this morning, until I read my Bible for the day. It was Philippians, chapters 3 and 4. There were so many gems in these chapters that I realized my embarrassment didn’t matter. The truth is I tripped on both occasions because I was excited. I was thrilled to be doing something that proclaimed Christ.
I spend a lot of time trying to hide my disability. I try very hard to fight my tendencies to be disorganized, messy and forgetful. I tend to measure myself against my failures. I am pretty much a lousy housekeeper, forgetful about appointments and easily overwhelmed. I sometimes feel socially awkward and very uncomfortable confronting people or issues. But, because I can sit quietly and even hyperfocus on things that are of interest to me, my type of ADD is not as apparent as ADHD, which has the symptom of hyperactivity. It can be exhausting, trying to live up to the standards of people who don’t have ADD and even the people who have ADHD., as they are always tidying, fixing, moving about. I could start feeling pretty bad right about now but then I read, “I have learned to be content no matter what the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:11-13.
Paul went through extraordinary circumstances before he wrote these words. He was beaten, thrown in prison, shipwrecked, hated, and chastised. I can’t imagine that he was immediately trusted by the other apostles upon starting his ministry. He had some sort of affliction that bothered him constantly. Maybe I don’t have it so bad.
I mean, how bad can it be to be so excited to read God’s word to others that you trip on your own feet to get there? How bad is it that I am made in God’s image, disabilities and all? Did He not make us for His pleasure? God has little gifts hidden in our struggles. Some come with helping each other. Some come with appreciating our differences. Some come by accepting our limitations, knowing that one day, we will be standing in Heaven, unhindered. Some come with watching God exercise his strength when we know we cannot achieve our goals alone. They come in answered prayers. They come from compassion. But those gifts do not come if you are not looking for them. I planned on spending today having a self-indulgent pity party, but instead I realized that if I care to practice it,I know “the secret of being content” (Philippians 4:12). I am no expert, but reading God’s word helps me see God’s perspective on my difficulties, and trusting not only in His strength but His goodness changes my perspective. I realize that I am who He wants me to be and I am where He wants me to be. That makes me content, mess ups and all.