“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” – Tehillim/ Psalms 139:13-16
I am weird. There is no way to sugarcoat it. I know it. People around me know it. Basically it’s not a secret.
I read a banner once that said “Sometimes I get so weird, I even freak myself out.” And I thought, ‘Yes! I’m not the only weirdo out there!’
Now, don’t get me wrong. I didn’t set out to be a weirdo. I just turned out to be one. Whether it’s because I was made that way or worked myself out into being one it’s anyone’s guess, but the fact remains, I am one. And I’m OK with it. For the most part. I guess it becomes a problem when I’m in a group of people and they all seem to agree on some amazing truth or idea and I am always the one with the ‘yes, that’s true, BUT…’ And it’s amazing to see all eyes turn on you like ‘what is wrong with you?’ and instead of pointing out the obvious I choose to own it. I’m a weirdo. Get over it!
For the longest time I tried to change. I thought, “I need to fix me. To make whatever makes me wrong, right.” So I began to search for people that I could look up to and imitate them. I tried to borrow things I admired about them and tried them on. That was a fiasco. I felt like David HaMelech when he tried on Shaul’s armor on. It didn’t fit. That just made me upset with HaKadosh Baruch Hu (The Holy One, blessed is He). I was like, “Was it such a struggle to make me normal? I can’t walk like other people, or talk or reason. Basically I can’t do anything like other people. I try to be kind and it comes out offensive. I try to be good-natured and it comes out angry. I try to be loving and it comes out harsh. I try to smile and I look like I’m in pain. Seriously Adonai, what were You thinking?” And HaShem, blessed be His name forever, didn’t smite me on the spot for my audacity, but instead gave me time. Yes, time. Unimpressive as that might sound to untrained ears, it was time. And I chose to employ it but looking at all things I deemed weird. I thought, I will not look at people I think are weird because maybe they became that way because of their sins so maybe HaShem didn’t make them weird. So I looked at things in nature. And my goodness, there are a ton of weird creatures out there. You know for sure that Adonai has a great sense of humor just by looking at some of His creation.
It stands to reason to conclude that if He created such diversity in fauna, flora and wild life in general, He also created humans diverse and some of them, let’s face it, just plain weird.
Every now and then, just to make myself feel better I’ll read articles about strange creatures. Last week I was reading on Frozen Planet an article about the Woolly bear caterpillar. It’s got a fancy Ancient Greek name Gynaephora groenlandica, because of course if you give whatever species an Ancient Greek or Latin name, it immediately elevates the creature.
Anyway, the Wooly bear caterpillar.
It’s always the first insect to appear after the snow retreats and the story of how it does so is truly astonishing. At the start of spring, the caterpillar eats as fast as it can, as indeed it must, for this far north, the season will be brief.The days shorten only too soon, but the caterpillar has not yet got enough reserves to transform into a moth. It can’t leave the Arctic, for it can’t fly, so it settles down beneath a rock. The sun’s warmth rapidly dwindles. Beneath the rock, the caterpillar is out of the wind, but the cold penetrated deep into the ground. Soon, its heart stops beating. It ceases to breathe, and its body starts to freeze – first its gut, then its blood.The following spring. After four months of darkness, the Arctic begins to thaw. And the caterpillar – rises from the dead. By the time the first shoots of willow appear in the early spring, the woolly bear is already eating. But no matter how fast the woolly bear eats, it will not have time to gather enough food this year, either, and the cold closes in once again.Year after year, the caterpillar slows down in the autumn and then freezes solid. But eventually a very special spring arrives. This one will be its last. It’s now 14 years old – the world’s oldest caterpillar. Its remaining days now become frantic. It starts to weave a silk cocoon. Inside, its body is metamorphosing into one that can fly and search, abilities that will be crucial in the days ahead.It’s waited over a decade for this spring and now, its time is near. All across the Arctic, moths are emerging. After completing their 14-year preparation, they now have just a few days to find a partner and mate.No life illustrates more vividly the shortness of the Arctic spring or the struggle to survive in this most seasonal of places. – Borrowed fromThe Frozen Planet, written by David Attenborough
This caterpillar is unlike any others. It dies 7 to 14 times before it lives once. It knows it’s got wings somewhere inside itself, but regardless how hard it wishes or struggles it can’t make them appear. It can’t leave anywhere because it can’t fly away. So it dies every autumn and gets back to life every spring, hoping against all evidence of past experiences that this year might be the year it lives, only to die again. But one spring its hope is rewarded.
It might be dead for most of its life (yes, I am aware of the paradox) and utterly useless, but it’s got strength. Unbelievable strength. It has the ability to endure arctic cold. It’s got the ability to endure death time and time again. This caterpillar is amazing! Probably it feels every death as yet another failure. It doesn’t even know how amazing it is. Someone decided to take a look at it and record all its struggle and understand that it is amazing everything that this little creature endures and I can promise you, that one day someone will decide to take a look at everything that you endured or are enduring and think you're amazing.
If you judge this creature by its ability to fly when it is still just a caterpillar, you’ll be disappointed. If you judge it by its ability to travel great distances, you’ll be sorely unimpressed. It wasn’t made to travel great distances. It’s a little weirdo in a frozen place and it does the best it can to be what it’s supposed to be.
Adonai is wise. (I know you’re impressed by my exceptional observational skills. I’m trying, OK?)
I learn a lot about the way He is by looking at what He made. It’s like looking at a painting and getting a feeling about the artist.
He’s OK with creating things that are different. But He’s always just and merciful. He doesn’t place anything in an environment without equipping that creature with everything it needs to be what it has to be.
I might be weird. And my weirdness makes some laugh and others run for the hills, but that’s alright. HaShem knew what He did when He made me. So, I don’t need to look, or act, or think like everybody else. I am beautifully made the way I am. I don’t need to fix my weirdness, because there’s nothing to fix.
You might judge a bird by its ability to swim and you’ll notice its disappointing because it wasn’t made for that. You might judge me by whatever ability you think I should have and I can assure you I’ll disappoint you every time, because I wasn’t made for that.
I might admire people’s abilities in their environment and even learn from them, but I can’t be them. I am just me. And I am His. And I am weird. And that’s alright.
Bat Melech בת מלך