I was a problem child.
I’ve heard all the stories from my mother that point to this fact. I was born 2 weeks early in the middle of the night with, possibly, the most horrific birth-story you just don’t want to hear. (It ended with 57 stitches for my mom). And apparently my Terrible Two’s started at about 18 months and didn’t end until I started Kindergarten.
I was an exceptional child.
I’ve heard all the stories from my mother that point to this fact. I started walking at 6 months old. I could read and do basic addition when I was 3. I could stay on my part in 4-part harmonies when I was 6.
Through elementary school, I was the teacher’s pet for every single grade, except 5th grade, where I was the bane of that teacher’s existence. Through high school, I was either the darling or the devil. I made one of my 9th grade teachers cry because I told her she was an idiot and we both knew it was true. But another 9th grade teacher made me her aide because I was the best student she ever had.
For a long time, I told myself “Well, exceptional people are just a problem for ordinary, un-exceptional people.” So, I’ve assumed, since most people seem to love me, that most people are exceptional. And I’ve just ignored those boors who don’t understand me.
However, I’ve learned better.
I’m not one or the other. I’m both exceptional AND a problem! Some people love me. Some people hate me. Those who really know me do both with great regularity. It’s not a matter of what’s right or wrong with everyone else. It’s a matter of what’s both right AND wrong in me.
I think that the better we understand ourselves, and really appreciate both the exceptional and the problematic aspects of ourselves, then we’ll start to really be able to appreciate other people. Matthew 22:39 says to love your neighbor as yourself. So, if you don’t love yourself – and I mean all of you – your great parts and your horrible parts – then you can’t really love other people. If you think of yourself too highly, and pretend that you don’t have any flaws, then you’ll be overly critical of other people’s flaws. If you think of yourself too lowly and don’t see yourself as worth anything, then you’ll expect perfection from those around you and you’ll always be disappointed (because they will always let you down).
I’m still, and always, learning to love myself for who I am – the Exceptional, Problem Child.