Physically and Socially Clumsy

Watching my second daughter, Chelsea, race, the one who inherited my ADD, was an eye opener. She was in first grade at the local Titchy Swat (school for kids up to third grade in Kenya.) One day they had a sports day. There were wheelbarrow races, three legged races, and other races also. It was easy to pick her out. She was a head taller than every other first grader. Despite this, she came in dead last in every event. I began keeping track at other times and noticed that she was much more physically awkward.

This focused my thought on my childhood. I loved baseball. My friend Spike and I would play two man games on the street. Slowly, I got better. He got me to join his little league team. By then, I knew that I was a lousy infielder. My reactions were too slow. I went for the outfield, where my slow reactions didn’t matter. Of course, having a rubber arm meant my long throws were wild, so I tended to just hit the cut off man. When I batted, I didn’t try for power hitting, despite being the strongest one on the team. A slow reaction time meant I needed to focus on placement hits. I especially liked to hit to right field, where the other team put their clumsiest player. As a result, I had the highest batting average. Knowing that I was a lousy athlete made me avoid athletics in high school, despite having finally caught up to everyone else.

There were many other ways that my clumsiness affected me. When I played sports against my brother in games like ping pong, I would be startled by the speed of his reactions, and could only compete by working on trick shots. I tended to dislike many games like hide and go seek, because I was so slow that I was frequently caught. My parents enrolled us in childhood activities. On the swim team, I never won even third place. In Judo, I only got a green belt, one step above beginner. Being so physically awkward lead me into activities where I shined, usually mental activities. In middle school, I was on the science team. In high school, I competed on the chess team. I was so convinced about my physical deficit that in PE, one day I wrestled a friend on the wrestling team and almost beat him. He invited me to try out, but I declined because I didn’t believe in myself.

This awkwardness was not limited to sports. I was in Cub Scouts, Webelos, and Boy Scouts. I never progressed beyond first class. The problem was the merit badges. I can remember being convinced that I couldn’t pass most of the badges. There was even a badge for being able to recognize different makes and models of cars. I knew I couldn’t do it, so didn’t try. I was also an awkward guest at parties. There were many a mom startled to see me perform my cupcake trick. I would eat the cupcake, paper and all. Frequently, I included the candle. I was trying to be accepted by using humor. If I could put myself down in a humorous way before others did, it didn’t hurt.

The Bible, though, says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Slowly, I learned that I had gifts. One was knowledge. My wife calls me her walking concordance. Due to my inability to see social nuances, I make a good Prophet, in the forth-telling sense. I am willing to see trouble coming and try to wake the sleepers. Also, since I never was able to learn the social graces for America, I wasn’t locked into this culture. That made me good at missionary work. I could go out to other cultures and thrive. God has said to me, “You are not a failure. I made you for special jobs. People put you down because you can’t do the jobs they do, but I didn’t make you for those jobs. You can do many things they can’t. You are wonderfully made, so rejoice!” Have you been made to feel like a failure because you are physically or socially awkward? Who do you believe? Them, yourself, or God? Listen to God and rejoice in the gifts he gave you! Learn to be a victor in using your special gifts!

8 thoughts on “Physically and Socially Clumsy

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  1. You made good points. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. Each one has a different purpose and unique gifts for achieving mighty things. I am convinced that the enemy of our soul, wants to take us out before we discover who we really are. Thank you for sharing.

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  2. Oh, I loved this. It’s so true and those treasures are buried within each of us. God’s love, encouragement, His Word and wisdom, the recognition and confidence of family and friends uncovers the jewels…. As does our perseverance when we battle on with a God-given conviction déspité other’s scepticism (even when respectfully expressed) as the Lord forges our characters. Yes Yes Yes!

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  3. So true. One shouldn’t be upset that they’re really bad at something. Sometimes, certain things aren’t meant to be because you’re supposed to get or find something that’s perfect for yourself. I, too, believe that everyone has a gift and with time and patience, when they find it, just hope that they’ll make positive use of it for themselves and others.

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