In my Spiritual Formation class this morning, we did a memorization exercise for John 15:16.
You did not choose me but I chose you, and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.
At the end of the exercise, we were asked to look at the scripture and see what words or phrases stood out to us and ask God about that.
I didn’t really “ask” God about the phrase — “I chose you” — which stuck out to me (and has always stuck out to me in that verse). Instead, I just said it over and over again in my mind. I thought my mind was starting to wander because what came to mind was a certain incident in my teen years:
Good friends of our family once made a bet with me (for $100!) that by the time I was 21 years old that I would be the same person that I was then — at about the age of 14. I forget the exact phrasing of the bet (though I did carry it around in my wallet for years), but it basically alluded to the fact that I was sarcastic and insensitive, and that since I was already that way at age 14, I would likely always be that way.
Here’s the thing. I was outwardly sarcastic and insensitive, but inside I was extremely sensitive of others and keenly aware of my feelings and often the feelings of others.
Shortly after remembering that incident, the exercise in class was over. When we were asked to reflect on it with a partner, I realized why that incident had come to my mind.
God chose me. God chose that outwardly-annoying and inwardly-sensitive fourteen year old girl. He chose that girl when she didn’t understand how she was made up and when she didn’t see that she was using all sorts of defense mechanisms to make her way in a world that caused her confusion and sadness. And yet, within that girl was all of the good fruit that could come with the way she was on the inside.
Now I see how my sensitivity is a gift for myself and for others. Now I see how awareness of vulnerability can connect people and how hiding who we are only isolates and alienates. All of that stuff was in there, it just needed to come out — like fruit that must be borne in season.
It was an interesting and good connection I made today in class. That God loved me and chose me even when I was really not that lovable. And that unlovable self had in it the whole time something good.
(P.S. Even before I discovered this stuff about myself… shortly before I got married that family friend said that I had won the bet — that I had changed in good ways over the years. I never did get the $100, but I certainly won the bet.)