Sometimes I say weird things and people quote it back to me years later. There was that time my brother caught me saying, “I love ham” to myself when I was looking in the fridge for a snack.
Then that time in college when he and I were playing one-on-one and he pushed me to the ground, so I screamed, “I can’t feel my hands!”
In an honest complaint to a friend about daylight savings time, I whined that, “I have to turn on the light in the morning.” She now says that every time I complain about anything.
So yeah, my quotes aren’t insightful or life-changing. I have no words of wisdom that are ever going to make it on “Brainy Quotes.” However, I did say a line that made it onto a cake:
“Be the kneecap.”
That was my quotable line.
During the Zuni trip we were talking about how each team member brings something different to the team. But the oh-so-human tendency is to look at what others bring to the team and wish we had their skills, while ignoring the value of our own. We’ll look at the hand and wish we could be as useful as it. Or we’ll wish we could be more like the arm. But all the while, we are the kneecap, a very crucial body part, and we need to just, you know, be the kneecap.
Or the elbow.
Or the eyebrow.
Or the pinky toe.
Whatever it is that God made you to be, figure that out and go be it! I don’t know why a kneecap came to mind, but it did and it stuck.
I love Paul’s analogy of the body of Christ being like an actual body and I love Eugene Peterson’s translation of Paul’s letter:
“Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything.
Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive. I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less.
A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.
But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own” (1 Corinthians 12).
It’s not just kids on a mission trip who need to be reminded that we are all parts of the body, significant in different ways. It was the Corinthians and it’s me. And I’m guessing it’s probably you too. Because it’s so easy to compare ourselves to others and see our role as less important. So while it was easy for me to sit there and tell my students to “be the kneecap,” I still looked at my fellow leaders and wrestled with thoughts like:
“She’s way more organized than I am.”
“Kids respect him more than they respect me.”
“Her outfit is cuter than mine.”
“He’s more insightful.”
“She’s a better problem-solver.”
“I wish I could sing or cook or lead like so-n-so.”
But on this trip, when those pesky little comparisons crept into my mind, I told them to go away. Instead, I thought about how the body is stronger when everyone is doing their part well and I can’t be all the parts. So instead of focusing on the fact that others are better at singing or cooking or organizing than I am, I’ll focus on the role and gifts God has given me. But I also won’t see my gifts as any more important than others since, as Eugene points out, a gigantic hand would be a monster, not a body.
Now that I’m back home, I still need to be reminded of this lesson almost on a daily basis. I’m tempted to compare myself to other teachers and coaches and friends and bloggers, but instead of falling into that dirty trap once more, I’ve determined to simply be the kneecap.
How about you? Do people quote something you said years ago? I’d love to hear it.
For instance, we often still quote my dad for saying, “You don’t have to like it; you just have to eat it.”
Heidi, I’m thinking of quotes involving your wrists and problems counting. Travis, you said a zinger when Trent punched your sandwich. Jenny, remember what you said when we were trying to make friends at the retreat? Lesley, I’m thinking of a line you said in the DC about our coolness.
Everyone’s got a weird line they’re remembered for and I’d love to hear yours. Share your quotable lines in the comments. I’ll start with another of my foolish remarks still repeated.