In Why Your Weirdness Is Wonderful, author and certified life coach Laurie Wallin teaches us to stop fighting ourselves and to start following God. And the first step, she says, is to embrace our weirdness. In short, dynamic chapters, Wallin helps you move past obstacles by learning to see your “stumbling blocks” as strengths. She will show you how your weirdness enables you to love God uniquely and to love others more effectively. As you work to discover why your weirdness is wonderful, you will learn more about yourself and about God, and about how deeply he loves you--quirks and all.
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Why Your Weirdness Is Wonderful
Embrace Your Quirks & Live Your Strengths
By Laurie Wallin
Abingdon PressCopyright © 2014 Laurie Wallin
All rights reserved.
To Question Our Quirks
THE IDEA THAT GIFTS EXIST in you that you've never noticed (or maybe even forcefully rejected) may seem strange, or even wrong. You might be thinking, How could these tendencies possibly be OK? Why did God design me like this? I struggle every day with [insert area of weakness here].
Every day I hear thoughts like these from friends and clients: laments about how they relate to God and to the world. They overthink issues, worry too much, put things off, argue too much, talk too much, or have any number of other grievances. They fight who they are and beg God to make them different. They mistakenly interpret Scripture, such as the verse that says "those who lose their lives because of me will find them" (Matthew 10:39). They think it means I need to stop being the way I am so I can be more of who God intends me to be or do more of what God has purposed me to do. This often comes out sounding like, "God, please make me more like [insert name of friend you think is perfect]."
Why is this?
Authors Albert Winseman, Donald Clifton, and Curt Liesveld say it's because we've grown up with the "weakness prevention" model, which tells us that to become strong and successful we must correct our weaknesses, develop our areas of nontalent. Then we will be ready to fully serve God and the world.
We've all struggled with this ideology—focusing not on our strengths but on our weaknesses—in some form. The idea stems from the school-age question: What about me is OK, and what isn't? What began as a simple desire we had as kids to understand ourselves, others, and the basic truths of the world became tangled in mixed messages and experiences of loss. Then it twisted into a deep source of pain and shame when we started to assign words like wrong and bad to how we naturally relate to life and people.
I see this happen often in my daughters' hearts as they progress through school. Most recently my seven-year-old announced, in one of our bedtime-foot-rub moments, that her friends don't like her because she gets better grades on certain assignments than they do. She'd started getting poor grades in math (her favorite subject) in the month leading up to that conversation, so I took a risk and asked, "Any chance you're doing the work poorly so they'll like you more?"
A long silence. Then her sweet, quiet, honest "maybe" opened the door for us to figure out how she could enjoy achieving in her favorite subject and encourage the other girls: she could offer to help them, learn how to change the subject, or ask to move seats and ignore their remarks. Whatever we came up with, the point was to separate her tendency to work hard and effectively with numbers from the judgment of her "friends" at school, because there's no way this mama was going to let any ponytail diva attack my kid's love for learning! (Did I mention another of my quirks is that I get passionate about things? This has obvious use—and probably more obvious pitfalls.)
You're not my seven-year-old, but like her, you and I were created in the image of God. And God says our design is "supremely good" (Genesis 1:31). You and your overthinking, overplanning, worrying, quirky self were made on purpose to reveal God to the world around you in a way only you can do.
In your weirdness. Not in spite of it.
How does that work? We find the answer in Scripture, where Paul (a guy with major weirdness issues that we'll discuss later) writes the message God gave him: "'My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness.' So I'll gladly spend my time bragging about my weaknesses so that Christ's power can rest on me" (2 Corinthians 12:9). "Weakness," as translated from the original Greek, refers to our inabilities as frail humans, not our wayward desires or tendencies, as some would have us believe.
And then there's that scary little word: perfect. It isn't the same as flawless, as we might be tempted to read—and as we often think God expects us to be. Nowhere in the Bible does the idea of perfection, paired with humanity, mean "faultless." It means "complete." Truly, "in God we live, move, and exist," and "without me," Jesus said, "you can't do anything" (Acts 17:28; John 15:5). In God we are complete. Lacking nothing. Perfect. Not in spite of our weaknesses, in them. It's a completion that God breathes into us by divine power.
It's in our weakness, in our weirdness, that God's completeness and power exist. When God is in our tendency to overthink, overanalyze, overplan, get too emotionally wrapped up in life, and constantly think about the future (or never think about it), God's strength shines brightest and purpose unfolds most clearly. The overthinking becomes strategic planning. The worrier's tendency to stew over eventualities becomes prayer over possibilities. The chatty one becomes the connector in a group or the one who introduces souls to Christ. The one who doesn't much consider the future becomes the one who reveals to us worrywarts the joy and beauty of this moment.
You see, God doesn't want to work around you or your quirks. He wants to work through you—through them.
It isn't a matter of God's overriding our weaknesses. Instead, God uses our natural design, pouring strength through our quirks.
As this happens, the weird, annoying, frustrating things about us—the things we've perhaps seen as problems or struggled against for years—become the window through which the power of God can shine brightest. Not because God removes them or "heals" us from who we are, but because God empowers us to live as who we are, only better, stronger. It's what a personal trainer would do with one of our weaker muscles: rather than perform a muscle transplant, he would use weights and exercise to show us how that part's supposed to work.
In the past few years as a life coach, I've seen this truth play out in lives again and again. As clients discover God's strength folded into their weaknesses and quirks
marriages are healed and spouses begin to see God's design in their mates' infuriating quirks;
ministries come to life as people accept who God has made them to be, and they let God's design make their ministry personal and more effective;
parents find new energy, confidence, and efficacy;
clients leave jobs that drained them for better ones or re-create current jobs to better complement who they are;
organizers discover the peace that comes with keeping their environments—and their thoughts and feelings—arranged in helpful ways;
highly responsible people discover how to master this trait instead of letting it master them;
worriers invest their anxiety in prayer and see miracles happen;
communicators who tend to gossip find ways to spread encouragement and information instead, catalyzing blessing in their neighborhoods.
In every case, clients tell me that one of the biggest wins of our working together is that they can now look in the mirror and recognize the value in their weaknesses and quirks. And that, on a good day, they're even grateful for them because they're starting to see God actively at work in their lives in these areas.
These amazing people accomplish all this as they decide to stop fighting the qualities God created in them and instead start asking:
If I'm made in your image, God, what aspects of you am I meant to reflect?
For what purpose did you make me this way?
How do you reveal these attributes—these tendencies that seem weak in me—in a holy, grace-filled way?
Would you please fill my weaknesses with your life and power to replace the brokenness and frustration they often bring now?
It can be a scary shift to stop fighting yourself and start following God, not just in spite of but because of a weakness: to start letting God cultivate those traits as the openings for strength they were always meant to be in you. This change in perspective may even feel as if you're walking straight into darkness and away from all you thought you understood about character. But if you've struggled to find the light in an aspect of yourself that's been tough to understand or manage, perhaps it's time to try a new approach. After all, "the quickest way for anyone to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run west, chasing after the setting sun, but to head east, plunging into the darkness until one comes to sunrise," according to Jerry Sittser, coauthor of When Your Rope Breaks.
The journey to make sense of and see value in our weirdness begins when we turn to face what we've run from for so long—when we let ourselves examine what we've begged God to remove from or change in us. The journey begins when we stop fighting and let God wield his strength through us—to lead us to the sense of purpose we all crave and to His peace that passes understanding. To discover—and fully, joyfully live—the truth that our weirdness, in God's hands, is wonderful.
Indeed, it's like seeing that strange, maybe even initially offensive gift peering out from the fresh- opened box in your hands. But getting to know its value? What power this will unleash in your life!
* * *
Ready to take the risk to discover the good that's hiding in those quirks? Let's start with a quick mental inventory. Which of your quirks do you doubt could ever have a purpose? Consider your closest friends: Which of their quirks irritate you, and how do the quirks affect your relationship? What challenges have your own weirdnesses created in those relationships?
Note: throughout the book you'll find questions to consider and engage. If you're like me, you'll need more than the margins here to do that! At the back of the book, there's extra space to write, draw, scribble, process, pray, study the Word of God, and enjoy that special place to dream.CHAPTER 2
To Be Loved, Quirks and All
WEIRD: IT'S DEFINITELY NOT a name we wanted to be called in junior high. Maybe not even now as adults. The word carries a sense of oddness, quirkiness, and the accompanying social dislocation of having those qualities. Long ago, weird conveyed supernatural, mystical, and often frightening meaning. But weird isn't synonymous with bad. In fact, in this book, we're going to return to its original definition. A close relative of the Old English wyrd, its meaning was akin to the idea of worth.
Who doesn't need a little stronger sense of worth? In these busy days, spent vying with the seven billion people on earth for jobs, resources, real estate, and recognition, we can feel lost in the crowd, unimportant, isolated in the midst of the throng. The increase in school-age bullying shows our kids feel this crunch, too, this struggle for significance and clawing for control in a stressful, disenchanted world. In the building intensity of these times, we need to know that we still matter. That to someone, somewhere, we're not just known but loved intentionally, wholeheartedly, deeply. You know the way I'm talking about: the falling-in-love, time-stands-still, life-lives-in-his- smile, who-cares-if-he-chews-loudly-or-never-irons-his-shirts kind of love. Everyone wants to feel that kind of unconditional affection from someone.
You're living a love story like that today. And this book is an invitation to fall ever deeper in love. To see yourself and the people all around you in this bursting-at-the-seams planet with the same twinkle in your eyes as the One who designed you does. It's an invitation, a beckoning to discover the intrinsic worth woven into you, quirks and all. To learn to love the wonder in your divinely designed weirdness. As you do, you begin to accept the invitation to love the weirdos around you as well. We begin to live the Greatest Commandment and its runner-up (Matthew 22:37-40) with vigor as we learn to love God with all our hearts, minds, souls, and quirks and love others in their weirdness too.
It's an idea shared a few years ago by best-selling author Robert Fulghum. In his book True Love, Fulghum described what he'd seen love to really be: "We're all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness ... true love."
The first person we discover compatible with our weirdness is the God who designed us in his image—a beautiful, glorious, strong image—an image that includes quirks. God's love overflows toward us as we reflect his design with abandon. God is a parent, after all. In us, God sees that little bit of himself. We look at our own kids and revel in the fact that they inherited our odd-looking toes or extra-big ears, and their quirks endear them to us. We love/hate those things about ourselves, but they're part of us and seeing them reflected is wordless communication and connection with our children. It's the same with God and our odd, annoying, or even quite challenging traits and tendencies. God wants to relate with us in every way he can.
And really, this relating—this love—is our whole point in life. We were designed to be loved, desired, pursued. We're told God loves us "with a love that lasts forever. And so with unfailing love," God says, "I have drawn you to myself" (Jeremiah 31:3). But life and its craziness crowd out this reality, this perspective. Author Emily Freeman, in her own search for divine love in life's noise, concluded, "Christ's pursuit of me is more important than my pursuit of anything else."
We can live on this crowded planet and do the next thing in front of us for a whole lifetime and miss it. We can pour our hearts into worthy pursuits, make a difference, raise our families ... and miss it. And every day we can look at ourselves in the mirror, see our weirdness and quirks, and miss it. We can live entirely outside of what Paul said so clearly: "The greatest of these [investments, talents, gifts, challenges, hopes, and dreams] is love" (1 Corinthians 13:13). This love isn't just toward what's good in us; it's toward all of us. Our weird God (see chapter 16) loves us, his weirdo kids, like crazy, and it's high time we start to see in ourselves what God has always seen: that our weirdness is wonderful. And that we're loved more than we can imagine, right in the middle of it all.
* * *
How could knowing you're loved by God in both your strengths and your quirks change how you see those traits in yourself? In others?CHAPTER 3
To Love God—Heart, Soul, Mind (and Weirdness)
There isn't one great thing you were made to do. There is one great God you were made to glorify. Throughout your life, you'll do that in a million little ways. —Emily P. Freeman, "A Million Little Ways"
WE SAT ACROSS THE TINY coffee shop table, poring over the notebook she'd brought that day. My companion? Deb, a pastor and doctoral student whose work centered on helping people know and grow in their strengths. I'd asked her to meet once a month and coach me through discovering my strengths, then to help me learn how to coach others to do the same. She asked me questions each time—questions that got me thinking differently about my natural abilities in work, ministry, and relationships.
At one of our meetings, the conversation went like this:
Deb: So, Laurie, how do you live your strengths as you relate to God? How do strengths affect spiritual disciplines?
And that was that. I thought, Why would I live my strengths around God? Our strengths and talents are for interacting with other ... humans. Aren't they? I needed to sit and think about that for a while. And the thinking took so long that I had to get up and get back to living my life.
For two years this question marinated in the back of my mind. It wasn't until my darkest moment as a parent that the answer started to show up. You see, one of my strengths (and quirks) is a desire to make a difference in the world. You'll hear more on the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of that later on. This quirk led me to want to adopt children. After a lot of prayer, research, and thought, that's exactly what my husband and I did. In 2004, two spunky, beautiful girls became our foster / adoptive daughters, and from the moment we met them, we knew they were meant to be our girls for good.
The younger of the two arrived with the diagnosis "failure to thrive"; it doesn't take a medical degree to get the gist of what that means. Over the next two years, we helped her reach a normal weight and growth rate for a preschooler, but then things started going downhill—this time, mentally and emotionally instead of physically.
Excerpted from Why Your Weirdness Is Wonderful by Laurie Wallin. Copyright © 2014 Laurie Wallin. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part I Yes, You're Weird-But It's a Good Weird 1
1 To Question Our Quirks 5
2 To Be Loved, Quirks and All 11
3 To Love God-Heart, Soul, Mind (and Weirdness) 15
4 To Live Weird with (Not for) God 19
5 To Feed Your Best Weirdness 25
Part II Opening the Door to Wonderful 29
6 Wrestling with Quirks 33
7 Squashing Wonderless Self-Talk 39
8 Letting Go of Borrowed Quirks 43
9 Seeing the Dark and Life Sides of Your Weirdness 47
10 Trusting God with Your Quirky Heart 53
Part III Owning the Wonder You're Wired With 57
11 Your Designer Quirks and the Three Rs of Life 59
12 Your Wonderful and Why It Matters to the World 63
13 Your Tools for Living Strengths with Confidence 67
14 Your Known Strengths and Discovering New Ones 71
15 Your Life's Wonderful Story 75
Part IV Digging Deeper into Your Wonderful 79
16 Following the Leader Toward Wonderful 83
17 Living Wonder When You'd Rather Not 87
18 Learning from Some of History's Best-Known Weirdos 91
19 Letting Criticism Strengthen Your Quirks 95
20 Riding the Sleep Train to Wonderful 99
Part V Handling Weaknesses and Waywardness 103
21 The Differences Between Weirdness and Weaknesses 105
22 The Invisible Battle Behind Your Weirdness 109
23 The Way to Keep Worry from Weakening Your Strengths 113
24 The Way to Prevent Quirks from Becoming Weaknesses 117
Part VI Bouncing Back from Wonder Busters 121
25 Using Mistakes to Shift Weird into Wonderful 123
26 Releasing Perfectionism's Grip on Your Quirks 127
27 Overcoming Fears to Live Quirks Well 131
28 Changing Your Rules to Let Wonder In 135
29 Discovering Wonder in … Discipline? 139
Part VII Learning from Real-Life Weirdness and Wonder 143
30 When Your Quirks Don't Play Nicely Together 147
31 When Their Quirks Rub You the Wrong Way 151
32 When You Wish You Had "Better" Quirks 155
33 When One of Your Quirks Is Too Loud 159
34 When We Can't Do It All 165
Weirdness and Wonder Cheat Sheet 168
Author's Note 171
About the Author 183
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I've spent most of my life feeling like an odd duck. Never really fitting in seems to be my style. But reading Laurie's book helped me begin to see my weird tendencies as gifts from God Himself, and that weird is very okay. The book is split into seven sections, but each chapter is brief and to the point. Laurie starts off by asking the reader to acknowledge and accept being weird in a good way. She then moves on to allowing the reader to grow comfortable in his or her weirdness. For me one of the most powerful chapters was "Squashing Wonderless Self-Talk", when I tend to beat myself over the head for being too much of this and not enough of that. Perspective truly becomes the key to opening the door to just how fearfully and wonderfully we all are made. The reader then moves into owning the weird, now referred to as wonder, digging deeper, and getting a handle on any weaknesses that come with our quirks and traits. Laurie concludes with teaching readers to grow from mistakes and overcoming fears, and then how to work your weirdness to its fullest potential. The book ends with a weirdness and wonder cheat sheet, helping readers identify their own traits and quirks. I enjoyed reading "Why Your Weirdness Is Wonderful" and gained quite a few new insights into my own personality. My thanks to my friends at Abingdon Press for my advance copy in exchange for an honest review. I think anyone can benefit from Laurie's book, even if it merely helps you accept another person's quirkiness.
Just loved this book as it starts off with " embrace your quirks, live you strengths, what a brilliant opening for a book. Its a gem of a book, touching on the offbeat, off the wall and very quirks, smacks in part of religious overtures but it is about finding yourself, love and liking yourself quirks and all. The author embarks on a spiritual journey at the same time finding out the oddities about herself are part and parcel of her persona.
An invitation to a "wonder-full" life... "What if who you are right now is exactly who God meant you to be? What if the weirdest, most annoying things about you exist on purpose--for a purpose--to bring life, joy, strength, and healing to this world?"--Laurie Wallin Did you flinch as you read that? If so, you're not alone. It challenges me every single time! In a world where "change" is constant and "self-improvement" is highly acclaimed we are always being encouraged, maybe even pressured, to transform ourselves to fit into one mold or another. Quirks or annoying behaviors? God forbid! We'll do anything to try to cover those up in an effort to become who we think or feel others would like us to be and maybe who we assume God wants us to be. Or at least we'll wear ourselves out trying. In her book "Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful" Laurie Wallin presents readers with another way of viewing their lives. One that allows us to stop lamenting our weakness and instead encourages us to allow God to use those tendencies on purpose. This idea, that God uses our natural design (including our most frustrating behavior) for His purpose is something that many of us have never considered. But it is definitely something worth pondering AT LENGTH. The book is broken into seven parts which comprise 34 very short chapters. Each chapter ends with reflective questions which are very helpful. It is a wonderful journey albeit very challenging. But, then again, who doesn't love a good challenge? Here is a little snippet from the journey... "When God is in our tendency to over-think, over-analyze, over-plan, get too emotionally wrapped up in life, and constantly think about the future (or never think about it), God's strength shines brightest and purpose unfolds most clearly. The over-thinking becomes strategic planning. The worrier's tendency to stew over eventualities becomes prayer over possibilities. The chatty one becomes the connector in a group or the one who introduces souls to Christ. The one who doesn't much consider the future becomes the one who reveals to us worrywarts the joy and beauty of this moment. You see God doesn't want to work around you or your quirks. He wants to work through you--through them." (Laurie Wallin) What a refreshing thought. It is one of the many statements in the book which I highlighted. I could share quotes for days as page after page of my copy of "Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful" is highlighted. There is so much wisdom packed inside this book. If you are a life-long learner, as I am, you won't be disappointed with the contents. There is very little fluff despite yet it is an enjoyable read despite the fact that it tackles emotionally charged issues. And, it is full of grace and encouragement. Although I finished reading this book several weeks ago, it is far from finished with me. I read a lot of books, but not very many of them read me. Don't let the cute little cover fool you. This book is going to take you deep into the recesses of your heart and mind. "Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful" will ask you questions you never thought of. It will provide answers you've missed along the way. It will, also, create some questions of its own which will lead to positive life changes should you be willing to embrace the possibilities. Changes that will make life more "wonder-full." I can't recommend this book highly enough. While it has been written by a woman, with a female audience in mind, I believe that the message applies to men as well. Though written from a "faith perspective" anyone who picks it up and embraces the concepts would benefit from it. It would be excellent for book clubs, Bible studies, and small groups. (I was provided with an e-copy of this book from Abingdon Press. My review was an opinion.)
“When we make the shift from thinking our quirks, tendencies, and styles are bad and start to see that good or bad rests only in how we use those attributes, abundant life begins.” In “Why Your Weirdness Is Wonderful,” Laurie Wallin offers a practical look at our individual quirks, and suggests that those quirks can actually be of good use in God’s kingdom. We often look at our quirks as flaws, things we have to correct or overcome. Laurie helps the reader understand the way they’re wired, recognize the unhealthy or negative things they do, and redirect that energy toward something that honors God. I appreciate Laurie revealing some of her own personal quirks, especially one that many of us deal with from time to time: Worry. She provides plenty of solid, biblical advice about dealing with worry and shared her personal testimony of how worry actually became a tool that helps her live in her strengths. The author/publisher provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.