What I'm Reading Today: Leviticus 21-23
If I were to tell you that I was born with a sense of being different, a lot of my regular readers would assume that I was referring to the fact that I was gay. That is not exactly what I mean. You see I was born with a more obvious sense of difference that was apparent from day one: I was born with club feet.
In case you aren't familiar with that term, it meant that I was born with "deformed" feet. In my case, my feet were turned backwards. I underwent a couple of procedures at the local Shriners' Hospital in Spokane during the first year of my life to get the problem fixed. First, they spliced both of my heel cords in order to bring my downwardly turned feet up a bit. Then they broke my ankles so they could turn my feet forward. I ended up wearing casts and corrective braces for a good deal of my first year or so.
By the time I reached the end of my second year, I felt as normal as any other child. Few of my classmates in school even knew about my "problem" from kindergarten on. That's because by third grade I was wrestling, by fifth grade I was playing tennis, and by sixth grade I started playing football. I excelled in each of these sports. It wasn't until I reached my sophomore year of high school - when I had to go through another series of corrective surgeries - that many of my classmates learned about my secret.
During those formative years of my life between the ages of two and fifteen I learned an important lesson about life. I learned I didn't have to be defined by what some might have called my disability (or what others might term the fact that I was differently abled). I gave everything I had and accomplished as much as I could.
You can imagine my surprise when during my sophomore year of high school – about the time when I had my last set of corrective surgeries on my foot – I embarked on a program to read the Bible in a year for the first time. It wasn't long into that reading program when I stumbled upon today's passage which goes to great lengths to talk about the limitations that should be placed upon those who are "defective". "Tell Aaron," God is quoted as saying, that "none of your descendants, in any generation to come, who has a defect of any kind may present as an offering the food of his God."
Reading that passage was a deeply traumatic experience for me since I had spent 15 years trying to prove to others (and myself!) that I was just a good as everyone else. Then along comes a passage of Scripture that would seem to suggest that I wasn't!
So how did I resolve that inner turmoil that came from such a passage?
Well, over time I realized that the intent of the passage was to suggest that God's desire was to call forward our very best. In communicating that intention, the human vessels who conveyed that message assumed that "the best" meant simply one's physical condition. I came to believe that "the best" had more to do with one's heart and desires than simply one's physical appearance. While I may not be considered perfect by the standards of orthopedic surgeons, in my spiritual journey I could aspire to be authentic and whole – and in that way I could offer my best, club feet and all! That gave me a great deal of comfort.
You may not have been born with club feet, but chances are there is perhaps a way in which you have been made to feel "defective". That defect might have an external manifestation, or it might just be internal. Regardless of how that "defect" manifests itself, today I would encourage you to work on coming to terms with that. Know that whatever condition you find yourself in, all you need to do is be willing to offer the fullness of yourself (exactly as you are). You can then rest assured knowing that that offering (and the one who presents it) is just fine.
Til next time…