You wouldn’t ask a toddler to run a marathon. You wouldn’t make her sprint 100m, even if it’s a comparatively short distance for someone older, either.
There’s a reason why physical development happens in stages.
Just because she knows how to move forward with some baby steps, doesn’t mean she’s ready to run long, to run fast, or even to run at all.
In other words, we don’t quantum leap from couch potato to Olympian by virtue of sheer willpower.
Baby steps build confidence. Walking builds habit. Sprinting builds strength. Pausing builds strategy. And running builds endurance.
But what happens to that toddler when entered in that race?
For a long time, I lived in the fast lane.
Age 2, I knew my alphabet. Age 4, picked up the violin. Age 7-8, knew my multiplication table inside out. Age 10, ran out of fiction books, and read about stem cells instead. Age 11, served as concert-mistress for three separate orchestras. Age 12, joined cross country, math club, and science club. Age 13, took up bodybuilding. Age 14+, realized I knew nothing and became an autodidact. Age 15, joined varsity swimming. (You get the idea.)
Up through the beginning of my adult life, I pushed and pushed. Always for the hardest classes, the fastest progress, the most effort, the greatest commitments.
But you see, these things don’t impress anyone. Least of all myself.
“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”Philippians 3:7-9 (NIV)
I count all these early achievements as loss. When I thought I was gaining, I was losing, and badly. I’d rather be a fool, nowadays.
Because it wasn’t until I stumbled on the track, and found that I couldn’t get back up, when I looked around.
All those other kids — the ones who took their time, sounding out words, counting on their fingers, asking questions, playing out of tune, and doing things in a way which I had once despised as slow, dumb, and inefficient — had caught up; and while my legs gave out under me, theirs were built to keep going and growing.
So now I get funny looks all around. Get up, keep up, they seem to say.
But I can’t even stand, on some days.
What happened to your talent, your motivation?
I don’t know what you mean. I barely learned how to feed myself this year.
Just run! You used to know how…
Before I learned how to walk.
That’s okay, though. I’d rather Christ be glorified in my weakness, than to be able to stand on my own.
Don’t pity me here. Yes I fell, but I’m caught in an embrace of grace. So I’d rather be carried by Jesus, than to be running out of breath alone.
Somehow, I was never surprised that the Mandarin vocabulary I learned at home would never overlap with the English we spoke at day-care. I took my bilingualism for granted.
I learned how to speak both languages so early, it backfired, and now I can’t speak at all.
I can’t remember exactly when I stopped talking. Or when I stopped trying to make myself heard.
All I know now, is that most of my thinking doesn’t occur in the form of words, and it takes strenuous effort to translate it into language.
Somewhere along the line, my inner life got amputated from the relevance of the external.
Because neither language could hold my thoughts completely, I was too cognizant, too early, without the vocabulary or space to express me. Maybe, I thought, these things just didn’t need to be said.
From elementary school, through middle school and high school, I lost my voice.
Developmentally, I fell behind my peers, as they learned how to converse, how to communicate, how to process externally. They developed personality, humor, sarcasm, and eloquence, while I sat there, muted and paralyzed.
Why couldn’t I speak? What was wrong with me? Where would I begin?
I really believed I had nothing to say, as my thoughts slowly imploded upon one another.
How do I heal from these wounds, left by years and years of silent pain?
Lord knows I have a lot of catch up to play.
But is anything too hard for my God?
The good news is, the most important work has already been laid down for me. My identity is built on a firm foundation.
And God is building this house. The Lord Himself dwells in this temple, and He is redeeming it to become whole and beautiful in its time.
I’ve weathered depression, I’ve been chased down by fear, and I’ve been a victim to my own self destruction. Those storms may be over for now (PTL!), but God doesn’t just stop there. He’s got more work to do.
So, I’m under reconstruction. It’s not a project that will take me where I would have been, had I not endured this trauma. He makes beauty from ashes, joy from mourning, praise from despair.
It’s restoration, and then some. It’s being filled, and then to overflow. It’s to be blessed, and then to be a blessing.
That’s why I’m in no hurry to return to the fast lane. It’s so sweet to rest here, like a tree planted by a stream, growing and healing. The waters are moving, bringing me fresh life. And that’s all I need, for now.