If You’re a Knee, Be the Best Darned Knee You Can Be
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ…the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body…If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact, God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be…As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!”…On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
-1 Corinthians 12:12-27
“I want to play tee-ball!” I insisted repeatedly when I was half the size of the tee.
“You’re not old enough, yet,” my mother replied calmly, watching as my brother walked up to the plate. So I chased my toddler posse around the bleachers while the summer night darkened around us.
In a few years, I outgrew the tee and my uniform with it while my ambition and competitiveness outgrew my body. I wanted to be the best at everything. I desired to play any sport against anybody. And beat them.
I’m not sure what my deal was.
That attitude is probably what helped me later convince my mom to enroll me in a boys’ summer baseball camp. My brother–my ultimate competitor–had already joined. In fact, he had already spent a day at the camp before I pleaded to tag along. And, on the second day of camp, I strode confidently towards him with a smile on my face and a mitt on my left hand.
I can’t recall what happened next, but I have to assume I got some strange looks from the Young-Boys Club. But when we started playing, nothing seemed to matter. I sized up the competition and relished the chance to defeat them. Which definitely didn’t happen when the counselors taught us how to spit correctly during a break from the summer sun.
Surprisingly, the defeat wasn’t agonizing like I’d heard it would be. Maybe a little embarrassing. But it tasted like water. And it fueled me.
By the end of the week, I left with a raffled baseball signed by Ozzie Smith. Which was a terrific consolation prize to the paper certificates with my own name on them.
Perhaps it is because I eventually “grew out of that tomboy stage” the way my mom’s friends promised when they consoled her. Or perhaps it has been true all along. But the fact of the matter is, I don’t like baseball.
I was just a weirdo who thrived on competition. Fortunately, that overly-competitive spirit propelled me to a fruitful basketball career and Division 1 scholarship. But it also brought me isolation in my adolescent years, frustration in high school, and exhaustion in college.
Until that point, I had spent each moment envying the other parts of the body and battling to be better at their job than they were. If they were a hand, I coveted that position and attempted to outdo them. Then I’d see a foot and think that was the coolest thing ever, so I’d try to out-foot them. All the while completely oblivious that I was failing at my own duty as a knee. After all, a knee can never be a foot, no matter how hard it tries. It just neglects its responsibility as a knee. And it was miserable. As C.S. Lewis said, “When we want to be something other than the thing God wants us to be, we must be wanting what, in fact, will not make us happy.”
So, when I truly acknowledged my calling to be a writer–that my role in the body is to share God’s love through the written word–I struggled. Everyone told me why that part of the body is incompetent and useless. Perhaps writers are the appendix of Christ’s body.
Whatever the case, I believed them. I once again abandoned the position God gave me to pursue life as a different, more noble part. Yet, Paul clearly states that we have great value when we accept the role we’ve been created to fill–especially when we think that part of the body is unpresentable or less honorable than others.
Now, listening to the voice of Truth, I choose to say, “Yes” to being an appendix. I clearly see how this part of the body fulfills my heart more than any other. And I eagerly aspire to be the best darned appendix I can be.