If you look really closely at the bluebonnet painting on my wall in my living room, you'll see a spot where, it looks like, a baseball covered in blue and green paint splatted its way into the landscape picture I was painting. And, I wish I could blame that spot on a baseball, but the real story is that I was angry at my professor and went and nearly ruined an otherwise decent piece of artwork done by a hot-headed, know-it-all novice. The next part of the story involves me huffing and puffing and stomping my way out of the art room in front of several students who were there to spend extra time on their paintings and not to witness a college-aged hissy fit. But, that is what they got. And, it mustn't have been my first one because no one seemed all that surprised that it had happened. The next day, no one even mentioned it happening. But, the rest of the story - the really impressive part of the story - is that after a few days of getting over myself, I tucked tail and apologized to that professor who I was angry at for acting the way I had, and that professor was the one who showed me how to fix the baseball splat so that you would have to look really closely at the painting to even see it.
I have a lot of stories like that woven through the threads of my memories - stories about these really passionate outbursts that hang on some small detail that set me off; always some major injustice in my mind. Like the time in second grade when one little boy liked one of my little friends, and his way of showing her that he liked her was to tag her "it" with such a punch that it made tears well up in her eyes. I don't recall all the details of what happened next, but I will say that if I were a recess monitor and I saw a little girl reading the riot act to a bawling little boy while gripping the collar of his faded blue jean jacket with a white-knuckled grip, I'd make that little girl sit out at recess for a whole week, too. And, like the time, in seventh grade, when I had to picket the school board meeting-and later speak at one-to let them know how I wouldn't stand for the use of the ozone-deflating Styrofoam divided plates in our middle school cafeteria any longer. And, like the time, in college, when I insisted on calling the mother of a friend who was full-fledged, knee-deep in her own battle with bulimia, and I didn't trust her to handle it on her own that summer.
My personality is pretty complex; a jumble of insecurities and confidences; high expectations and heightened emotions for both myself and those in at least a 5 year radius of having known me at all. I wear my heart on my sleeve, identify the futuristic potential in all, work tirelessly to make amends, seek justice for the underdog, laugh loud, cry hard, fall fast - as if I'm the spawn of a drunk Superman and Rosie the Riveter handling a hefty dose of PMS.
And, the kicker - I think God made me exactly this way. It has taken me a long time to understand this concept of God knowing exactly what He was doing in giving me what He gave me. He absolutely knitted me in my mother's womb with these raw emotions and pocket empathy. He had an overall picture and a divine plan when he handed out a double portion of awareness for people in need, love for children, words to express, and passion into my DNA strands. That hand basket was a tough one to carry through out my adolescence. It was cumbersome and hard to get a grip on; it was too heavy and seemed needless for me to be carrying it at all. I dropped it all the time - spilling the contents all over the place, hurting people with my words, damaging my credibility with my professors, but endearing friends who felt protected and loved.
The sixth chapter of Judges finds Gideon hiding out in a winepress, threshing wheat that he intended to keep away from the conquering Midianite army who, for the seven years prior, had found great victory in ravaging everything of the Israelites, including their crops, livestock, and trust in their Deliverer. Gideon is the self-proclaimed least of his family; his family the weakest of the clans (v.15), and still an Angel of the Lord addresses him as, "... mighty warrior." (v.12) And, if you aren't familiar with God and His forte' in taking normal, low-life, nobodies like you and me and using them in mighty, amazing ways, you might think, for a second, that God is being facetious; like calling a small, yappy dog that fits inside the palm of your hand, "Killer." But, that isn't God's style, as far as I can tell. He is more of a tell-it-like-it-is God; and usually, a tell-it-like-it's-GOING-to-be God. And, that is what He does with Gideon. He addresses him according to what he will become. Gideon, blessed by God, goes on to defeat the Midianites for two more chapters, taking down any idols he finds on the way. Gideon's victories are two-fold: militarily, he defeats the Midianites, and sets the Israelites back on solid, safe, secure ground; and religiously, he is essential in bringing the Israelites back into communion with God, their Divine Deliverer for a time, albeit short-lived. No one else would have thought Gideon would be any kind of warrior; much less a mighty one. No one else could see it. But, God did. God knitted Gideon in his mother's womb with exactly the DNA make-up that was needed to accomplish what God had would call him to do. God saw past what Gideon was; straight to what Gideon would be.
And so it goes with this once hot-headed, know-it-all novice whose overgrown hand basket of emotions and responses once dominated her daily life. He has seen past what I was; straight through to what He called me to be.
It shouldn't surprise you that, through my nine years of teaching 4th graders, the number of them with emotional and anger issues that find themselves in my homeroom classroom is staggering. That, too, is God's style, as far as I can tell. They are my favorite type of kids; the ones locked up inside too- big emotions that come spilling out in the form of hissy fits and outbursts. And, by the grace of God and through His Sovereignty, He allows me a glimpse into what these kids will become; what He is planning to do with them and their overgrown hand baskets. And, He gives me the task of teaching them to fix the baseball splats so that you have to look really closely to even see them.
"When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior." Judges 6:12