I am not and you are not a haphazard collection of parts and pieces that just happened to come together.
How do I know that despite what some scientists might say?
I know because Psalm 139 tells me that clearly in verse 13:
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb”
That verse always blows me away in its clarity. Being formed suggests to me that every aspect of who I am (who you are) was very deliberately planned and purposed by God. When the analogy of being knit is included, it adds meaning as well.
Knitting involves manipulating a strand of yarn to create more than what it is in itself. It creates a textile or fabric by means of stitches with loops of yarn that are interlocked together that develops a pattern. The knitter chooses different types of yarn that has a variety of textures and twists. A variety of needle choices add to the mixture to create a knitted fabric of diverse color, texture, weight, heat retention, and water resistance or integrity.
Think about that when you consider the verse I just quoted. Our designs and patterns when knitting can offer so many options, but remember that God’s creativity is infinite, endless.
When we are born, there is so much to learn.
Life was simpler before I left my mother’s womb. It doesn’t take long for me to discover there are things I am expected to do in the learning process. In the early weeks and months and years, I learn things I will use for the rest of my life.
Whew!!! Is it any wonder I slept so much as a baby!!
The expectations I first become aware of are those of my parents. Little by little I recognize what pleases them. I also learn that pleasing them can have definite benefits for me. The subtle development of learning to please begins to connect with siblings and others who gradually enter my world. These are necessary in my development, but over time those choices I make begin to also inform my understanding of who I am.
If I habitually seek to please in more and more areas of my life I might never recognize who I am in those inward parts. I may not learn who I was created to be.
It doesn’t take long for me to begin to discount, devalue, or hide parts of me that do not seem to please others. It becomes the beginning of the dividing of my heart. It seems to happen to us all no matter what our story.
I grew up in a home with a depressed and anxious mother whose world was turned upside down when my younger brother was born prematurely, was developmentally delayed and diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy. My mother felt overwhelmed often and never more so than when my brother would develop temper tantrums.
His birth also turned my world upside down. I had been quick to try to please my mother because it not only benefitted me, but also seemed to help her. Now it took on a whole new dimension as I stepped into a role I was not old enough to know how to handle. But the habit of seeking to please was already well in place in me by the time I was five years old and my brother was slowly learning to walk and talk.
My life revolved around helping with my brother to care for him and to care for my mother as a result. Slowly, it seemed to consume my life and I began to sense when I wasn’t “taking care of” my brother I was labeled “selfish” and reminded that he was “handicapped” and I wasn’t. So I believed my wants, desires, and hopes needed to be set aside because I was “healthy”.
The messages I took inside of me that were not actually said included ones such as I was not important, I was only valued by what I could do, pleasing was what resulted in love, and that I would be my brother’s advocate and caretaker for the rest of my life.
As I sought to help my brother learn, my mother started telling everyone that I wanted to be a teacher of handicapped children when I grew up. I had never said that. In moments when I was alone in my room I wanted to write stories, travel, sing on Broadway, and more.
The inside me got split off and hidden because to please meant to feel loved and those things I wanted to do and be were not on my mother’s list and I already felt guilty for wanting something different.
The list of expectations grew and my heart began to break off in pieces and the concept that there was an original design for me never crossed my mind.
Your story is different. It is not mine, but…
You may not have responded to expectations as I did, but all of us have been impacted by being or feeling shamed and those experiences provided the soil and fertilizer from which our busyness would grow as our heart became fragmented.
I was losing my smile. I was losing my heart just like Mitch in City Slickers.
I was also starting to have a skewed view of God and whether He could love me if I wasn’t doing what I believed He expected of me. So now there were expectations I was adding to those I heard or perceived from others and more pieces of my heart got tucked away and labeled.
Come along with me in my next post to continue to explore more about what drives us and pushes us to stay busy and how we can get the pieces of our hearts back.