I’ve noticed this more since the summer of 2019. That was when my son came home from his annual checkup, bragging that he had grown again – now he had me by three inches and fifteen pounds. Since his older brothers are even taller than him, I am again the shortest guy in my family.
Growing up, it was the same. My “little” brother was only a title! I reconciled to the fact that I could still look eye to eye with my Mom and sister. My wife and I are the same height if I wear shoes and she doesn’t.
At school, my male students play this game every fall in which they see if they are actually taller than “P”. Most come into my class at 14 years old and I tower over them. By the time they graduate, our roles are reversed.
I have been teased (and still am) about my height. I was always the target of “keep away” in school. I feel annoyed when the item I need in a store is on the top shelf. I think the engineers at my school put the projector just a little out of reach on purpose, just enough that I have to use a pencil as an extension – if there are no “tall” people around.
My height (or lack thereof) has become more of an issue in recent months. I injured my shoulder in my last fall last fall and it is still healing. This makes it a challenge to lift my dominant right arm above my head. I now call my left arm my “reaching” arm but this makes it more challenging.
My cerebral palsy greatly affects the left side of my body in general. First, things move a little slower on the left then the right. My brain sends a message to the nerves and muscles to perform a task, but the left side usually has a delayed response. This means more advance planning for me.
Second, there seems to be a visual component necessary. I can’t seem to pick something up unless I am looking at the object. So reaching for something out of sight is usually a fruitless effort. Of course, it doesn’t always work out that you can see the item you are reaching for. In those cases, I have to ask for help or rationalize to myself that I really do not need said item. Sometimes I can “Jedi” the object, which means that I stare at the item long enough to imprint it in my brain so I can grab it without looking. I get some very strange looks from people when I attempt this in public.
Although I am small in stature, that is not what I mean by my Palzewism “Life is short and so am I.” I am short in so many ways!
Some days I am short of time. Those are the days when I have promised to call or do something for someone. My favorite lame excuse is that the day/ week/ month just got away from me. Our Pastor refers to this as “hurry-sick and over-committed”.
Some days I am short on money. I was starting to get depressed in November when I read the posts on Facebook of all the people enjoying “Hamilton” when it came to Milwaukee. I wanted to see it as well, but it wasn’t in the budget.
Sometimes I am short on patience. These are the days I snap at others when they want or need something from me. I justify that I need some ME time, time to recharge and unwind from the stressful activities that I have placed upon myself but act like they are a heavy burden assigned to me as an act of punishment.
Sometimes I am short on empathy when I see someone is hurting or needs something and, although I have the resources, I refuse to get involved. I turn a blind eye to pain and suffering and focus on simply getting through my day.
I get short on friendship and only reach out when I need something.
Most of all, I “short” God. I convince myself that He has better things to do than listen to my problems. I don’t pray for things because I don’t want to be disappointed when they do not appear. I hide and rationalize certain parts of myself, assuming God’s Grace doesn’t cover “that”. I short myself mainly because sometimes I do not think of myself the way God sees me.
I don’t stay that way for long.
I remember in Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Isaiah 59:1 Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;
Luke 19:1-5 And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd, he could not, because he was small in stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”
These words remind me of the ways I am not short!
I am not short of God’s Grace, Mercy, and Love. In fact, I have an inexhaustible supply that no matter how deeply I take, I will never make even the slightest withdrawal from the overall sum.
I also know that when I am short in areas of my life, God will make up the difference! In 2nd Corinthians 12:10, Paul writes “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
I am not expected to be “long” on patience, time, empathy or anything else on my own. Jesus emphasizes this to us when he says:
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
I also know that there are some areas in my life where being “short” is God’s desire for my life. God wants shorter grudges. As God forgave us, we are called to forgive others. I once knew a man who told me that it is a lengthy process, which could last months or even years, in order to receive forgiveness from him. He seemed almost proud of this statement until I asked him where we would all be if God used that same process on us! People will hurt us, there is nothing we can do to avoid that part of life.
Some people I know have “cut” others who hurt them from their lives. They avoid certain places and people because the hurt is too unbearable. I avoided my father for years because I couldn’t face the pain. I eventually forgave him because I realized that holding on to that anguish was preventing me from living my best life. Forgiving him did little for him but freed me from holding that grudge. I now see what a “Father” should be, not looking at the feeble attempts of the man who raised me but the promises and actions of God almighty!
Life is short! We should not waste it on the things that do not matter.
Let’s pray: Heavenly Father, help us not to be “Short” today. Help us to use all we have in every situation in order to proclaim your glory and point others to you. Amen!