Characteristics vs. Problems

photo(52)I disliked DC traffic for all of the years that I lived there. I loathe it even more now. Determined to go spend time with a great friend in Baltimore, I knew I had a trip around the Beltway waiting to welcome me back to the area.

The area where everyone has nowhere to be except in front of you. Where 80 miles an hour isn’t fast enough. Where, if you had a million choices, the area that would be the last place you’d want to have car trouble.

And it was there, just after I exited 495 onto 95N, when my steering wheel shook so bad, I thought for a fleeting second that it just might fall off. While at the same time, the transmission needle revved up and then dropped off like it had hit some kind of cliff.

Panic washed over me like a wave. I was sure I was 2.5 seconds away from my car coming to a complete stop in the middle of the highway and the reason thousands of people would soon be cursing as they were interrupted on their nightly commute.

And then, it stopped. The shaking stopped and the car drove smooth as could be, as if nothing happened. At all.

I made it up to Baltimore and back with a few, let’s call them, “episodes of the shake.”

Convinced I needed a new transmission, torque converter or both, I took my dear Honda to a transmission specialist. I had it looked at and driven by more than a few friends who know a thing or two about cars. I took it to the Honda dealer.

And each time, it wouldn’t shake. Each test drive, it performed perfectly.

The Honda service manager was involved by the end, and he explained it like this, “It seems, Miss Clark, that this is a characteristic your car has developed and not an actual problem.”

I get a tingling on the tip of my tongue when I’m nervous. Sometimes I can’t take a deep breath. I eat a lot of chocolate. I tried to plant and grow vegetables. After four years of rotted tomatoes and mushy cucumbers on the vine, I shop at the farmers market. My pinky toe on my right foot grew slightly crooked and looks kind of funny. I have an extra bone in the arch of each of my feet.

I thrive on organization. I love doing dishes. I hate cleaning bathrooms. I love a good, long run to think and an hour of yoga to stretch and challenge my strength. I’m a single-mom and some days, I’m just tired. I have a tendency to tell myself I’m not good enough. I’m working on silencing that lie, but that struggle is part of who I am.

I used to judge all those things about myself. However, these things are who I am. They are what makes me, me. These aren’t problems to be fixed. These are areas to be aware of.

My pastor told me once, when you become aware, it’s like the lights have been turned on in the room. Being unaware is like stumbling around in a dark room, bumping into things. When the lights are turned on, all the furniture is still there, you can just see what is there. It’s easier to navigate now.

What are your characteristics? What are the things in your life that just make you, you? Can you work on accepting them?

While that service manager was talking about my Honda that day, he was also talking to my heart.

All those “problems” I tried to solve. They aren’t supposed to be changed. These are characteristics that I’ve developed, not actual problems.

Because, just like my Honda, these are the things that make us uniquely us. And what would our lives look like if we embraced some of these characteristics and accepted them, instead of spending our energy and time trying to “fix” them?

And even more, what if we used them to influence and impact? We if we gave the world our best, fully accepted, unapologetic self? What would that look like?


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