“That’s just the way I am”

When my youngest son was small, he was a real chatty little guy. In fact, sometimes he could talk too much. I didn’t want to squelch his openness with people or his ability to strike up a conversation, as those are valuable traits (which don’t come naturally to me!) But on the other hand, no one wants to be around someone who talks incessantly. Once he was talking to the wife and mother of a visiting missionary family at church who was trying to soothe a fussy baby and graciously step away from him, and he kept chatting merrily on. When I tried to suggest that perhaps he was talking a little too much, he flashed his bright smile and said, “That’s just the way God made me.”

“Well,” I thought, “What do I say to that?”

After a while the Lord did bring to mind a few principles to share with him, such as the fact that God made us to eat, yet it is wrong to eat too much or the wrong things; God made us to sleep, but warns against loving sleep too much and being lazy, etc. He gives us responsibility to use our natural bent and inclinations in the right way. We talked about the warning signs that you’re talking too much — when other people look bored, sleepy, or glazed, or when they’re trying to step away or start another conversation with someone else, etc.

I’ve heard variations on that response from time to time. I used to really struggle under the leadership of someone who was not good with details: when he overlooked something that caused problems, frustrations, more work, etc., for the people under him, he’d just smile and say, “You’ll have to forgive me, I’m not good with details. I’m just not wired that way.” I’ve heard someone apologize for an angry outburst by saying, “I’m sorry, I just have a bad temper.” I’ve known people who think they have the spirituals gifts of prophesy or exhortation to harshly lambast a person or movement they are opposed to (and take great pleasure in doing so), forgetting that “the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth” (II Timothy 2:24-25).

When my middle son was in about the 6th or 7th grade, he was lamenting that he studied for spelling tests and yet still made bad grades, and a classmate hardly studied at all and yet made A’s. I explained that everyone has an aptitude for certain areas, and this friend obviously happened to have an aptitude for spelling. He brightened, thinking that since he didn’t have a natural aptitude for spelling, he didn’t really have to worry about it. I had to say, no, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to work on your spelling: in fact, in means you have to work harder!

The person who is not good with details is not excused from having to deal with them; in fact, he may have to work harder to handle them, or hire an assistant to help him. The person with a bad temper is not allowed to give it free reign because he can’t help himself. Even spiritual gifts such as exhortation or mercy or giving have to be kept in balance. A person whose gift is giving for example, can’t run his family into debt or neglect their needs to give to others. He is responsible to exercise that gift in conjunction with other Scriptural instruction under God’s leadership. Scripture contains several passages of instruction concerning how to exercise spiritual gifts.

Understanding they way we’re “wired” helps us, perhaps, to know what direction to go in life, what ministries or vocations to choose, etc. For instance, I am not good with numbers: I can add the same list of numbers up three times and get three different answers — even with a calculator. So I would not look for a job as an accountant. However, sometimes God does call people to do what doesn’t come naturally — Moses felt he could not lead or speak, yet God did not take any of his excuses. Jeremiah said, “Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak” (Jeremiah 1:6-7). We think of the apostle Paul as bold and wise, yet he said, “And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom” — but he goes on to say, “but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (I Corinthians 2:3-5). Sometimes God uses people in the ways they seem to be bent, but other times He calls them to do something that doesn’t come naturally to them to show His power and His grace through them.

Whether dealing with a sin issue, a personality bent, or even a spiritual gift, “That’s just the way I am” is not a good excuse. God wants us to seek Him for deliverance from the power of sin, for power and grace to maintain right balances and to be diligent even in areas where we don’t have natural gifts, and for help to grow continually more Christlike every day we live. He does not want us to remain “just the way we are.” “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18). We’re changed….by beholding Him.

See also: The means of change.

14 thoughts on ““That’s just the way I am”

  1. What an excellent post, Barbara. How sadly familiar are the excuses you list for people who seem to give in to their weaknesses. I’m going to share this with a co-worker whose son thinks his behavior is well justified because he doesn’t want to change.

  2. Very well written my friend. I also believe that being “just the way I am” is the truth and that if you don’t want to be that way one has to dig deep within them self and want to be better as well. It’s the power of positive thinking that I have always believed in 🙂

  3. Barbara, Welcome to the book swap. Your partner is Midlife Mom. Her website is
    http://whinnyhollownews.blogspot.com/

    Sorry I couldn’t contact you but my email hasn’t worked for a few days. I always notify the partners by email. So, stop over and get the details and let me know when your book arrives. Thanks again for participating.

    Mary

  4. Excellent sermon, Barbara. I feel for your son. I, too, had to learn how to “converse” rather than how to “talk” and it wasn’t easy because it wasn’t a natural inclination. Even know I sometimes find myself talking rather than conversing.

  5. This was excellent…I especially liked the part where people made excuses for bad behavior and that isn’t acceptable….Had our quarterly council meeting for the club…why are there a few who want to disagree with the way things are being done but do not want to be an officer? It takes patience to be a secretary at these meetings…
    I have a few relatives who talk ‘too much’…but I suppose no one gave them the direction they needed to learn to listen to others…
    As always, I enjoyed my visit here.
    Mama Bear

  6. I’ve had this link open for DAYS waiting to read it. I got a paragraph in the day you posted and realized I wanted to devote some significant time and attention to this post. I’m going to re-read it again later. (Finally got to it this morning.) LOTS of good food for thought!

  7. Pingback: Retrospective Stray Thoughts « Stray Thoughts

  8. This was really a GREAT post. Luz and I JUST had this conversation yesterday morning when she was being OVERLY sensitive about something and tried to tell me that she just “couldn’t because I’m just sO sensitive Nana”. We had a talk about how NOW that she realized she was SO sensitive, it was time to learn that being SO sensitive was something that was not such a great thing… and that she COULD stop being SO sensitive if she would pray and ask Jesus to help her be less sensitive… She was NOT happy with that turn of events! She is soooooo dramatic. But even at 6, they can learn…

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