When God has faith in imperfect weirdos like me

 

I’m a paradox.

I’m a walking, talking, living, breathing paradox.

For some reason, when some people see me, they decide I am a natural leader.

Nope.

They ask me to give speeches, to spearhead causes, to plan events, to mentor kids, to join their clubs of go-getters.

You are perfect for it, they say. 

Well, thanks but…

I’m an imperfect person who smiles a lot and tries really hard not to allow my shortcomings to outweigh my courage. 

That’s the thing about effort. It tricks perception in your favor. If you smile big enough, no one will notice your knees knocking together because you are terrified of failure. 

Truth is, I’m more comfortable being behind-the-scenes playing a supporting role. That goes for my career and my life. It’s also the opposite of how things unfold most days.

I’m not really some kind of leader, unless you are looking for the career strikeouts leader. I just have guts, I guess. The plus side is I always go down swinging. Effort — even when it’s a filthy smokeshow of a curveball that never gives me a chance.

But you make it look easy, they say.

[Insert a 10-year-old boy making the armpit noise]

It’s all a mirage, and I don’t even know how or why it began. It baffles me. Facts: I worry about everything. I mess up most things and have to declare 793 re-dos. I overthink. I lose things. I run late. I sometimes only draw on one eyebrow. I forget to get gas. I cut myself every time I dice vegetables. I’m pretty much your basic basket case wearing a Calvin Klein dress that I bought for $14.99 (which also seems like a metaphor for my life).

I cross my fingers a lot and hope for the best. I pray. God will cover me. Hopefully. I’m simply a confident screw-up, and I smile through the uncertainty. 

Fall down 7 times, get up 8. Guts.

This morning in church, the minister seemed to be speaking right to me.

“God always uses the weak,” he said. “All God has ever wanted is someone willing to be used.”

Well, checkmark that column for me. 

I find it difficult to say no — even when I can’t comprehend why someone better wasn’t chosen for a task. The key, I suppose, lies in the willingness as he said. I’m willing to fall flat on my face, to have people laugh at me or to be criticized rather than to be known as the person who didn’t try. 

At least I took a risk, as terrified as I was to do so. 

“Don’t wait for your life to be perfect before you let God use you.”

For a long time I did that. For years I thought I needed to reach certain benchmarks before I was respectable enough to be considered worthy of a calling or duty. I overcame the silliness of that feeling and stood taller.

I became willing, and I’ve been winging it ever since.

As the cycle of life often does, we are thrust back into old insecurities, feelings of inadequacy. That brave person travels to the past and finds herself entertaining excuses to wiggle out of commitments. The mountain seems too heavy to move again and I’m too small for the job, I say.

“You may think you’re small and you’re not enough. God has always done big things with small people.”

A renewed strength, which came through a sermon seemingly tailor-made for me this morning. I jotted down notes on a prayer request card so I wouldn’t forget the power of the message.

Although I’m still willing, I probably will continue to wonder why someone like me is chosen in certain situations. Why would anyone consider putting anything important in my hands?

I’m the imperfect weirdo here, God, twisting myself down into the batter’s box as I try to slug life’s issues.

The blessing, though, comes when you’re an imperfect weirdo who believes you’re worthy enough to put forth the effort. There’s a learned grace there, no matter the outcome. 

One of the best parts of God’s love is that he has faith in what we can handle even when we panic at the mere thought. 

“God will take your weakness and do great things.”

Put me in, Coach.

Just as I am.

 

🎶 “Just as I am, though tossed about

With many a conflict, many a doubt

Fighting and fears within, without

Oh, Lamb of God I come! I come!”🎶

How sweet the sound

Drip. Drip. Drip.

I watched as medicine dripped for hours to kill the poisonous cancer.

Last month, I took mama’s only sibling to her ninth chemotherapy treatment. Her prognosis is good, unlike some of the others who were visiting the cancer center.

There were rooms full of people. Hundreds of them. Some were waiting to see a doctor. Some were waiting for scans. Some were receiving treatment. Hundreds of them, and it was just Wednesday. The next day and the day after saw hundreds more. She thinks I was brave while I was sitting alongside her, but I was sad and so scared for all those people and their families. When she’d fall asleep, I’d look around and people watch. My tears would sneak out and drip, drip, drip.

Today, instead of sitting in the cancer center watching medicine enter her body, I was sitting at work, waiting to hear the news that it all was over.

My aunt Dawn rang the bell at 12:30 p.m., signifying that she is done with chemo treatment No. 12 and ready to enjoy life without being sick, without mobile chemo ports or hours in a chair while medicine falls through an IV.

Today, it was tears of joy going drip, drip, drip.

She grabbed ahold of that bell and its noise drowned out the pain and worry in so many hearts.

Ring. Ring. Ring.

Break free.

? ? ?

 

 

Silly girl, tears don’t put out wildfires

My family always has been my refuge.

I was blessed with good examples. As a child, I was blessed with food on my plate and parents who insisted we eat a home-cooked supper together, at the kitchen table, every night.

I was blessed with a roof over my head.

I was blessed with a grandpa and daddy who built that home with their blood, sweat and tears.

Five years ago this week, however, the tears falling were mine.

Continue reading

#OKLegacies: The standard of grace and hope

It’s time for another anniversary of a dark day.

“The Oklahoma Standard” has guided me in many things throughout my life. Most of all, it has taught me that if you look really hard — grace floats to the top of the depths of pain.

Below is an editorial I wrote for the Cleveland American three years ago, a day after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

The Oklahoma Standard sort of took over my mind that day, so I started writing.

Watching the news come out of Boston served as a reminder of OKC. It was a reminder of hopelessness and of pain.

But even though grace is tough to come by during times of confusion and anger — the 168 souls that perished on April 19, 1995 still teach us grace every single day with their brave Oklahoma spirit still very much alive in the loved ones they left behind.

And the countless compassionate people who led our state through the tunnel and toward the light — then and now — keep our eyes focused on carrying that grace forth.

Here’s that column on Boston from three years ago, which I think is fitting for us on this anniversary of when Oklahoma City was terrorized by cowards.

God bless the 168.


Rescue hope by choking out the hate
By Brandi Ball

Published: 4/17/2013, The Cleveland American

What happened in Boston on Monday rocks my soul.
Bombs placed in a crowd of people, only to incite death and destruction?
I heard someone say afterward: “Bad has always existed. It’s not hard to believe this happened. It’s actually pretty easy to believe it. People are just evil.”
While evil is a concept that dates back almost to the inception of good, I still gasp with disbelief when things like this happen. Because no matter how much tragedy is in our world, I still believe in the good.
I believe that kindness and love reign on this Earth, no matter how much evil tries to encroach.
McViegh blew up OKC, bin Laden blew up NYC, and people all over this world are killed by hate every minute. There are unfeeling people and racists and bullies and people who live to see others suffer.
And, yes, even knowing all of that, it still jolts my soul when an intentional act does harm to others.
Perhaps that’s just my hopefulness taking root, but I always want to be stopped in my tracks with a “this is unbelievable,” look on my face when it comes to seemingly malicious matters. Because the minute I become accustomed to an idea that evil acts inherently occur in my world, that is the moment goodness begins to lose the battle.
I don’t ignore the bad. I’m very aware of its existence. But when we find it easy to believe people can callously take another’s life, that is the moment we feed oxygen to the fire. When evil becomes routine instead of anomaly, that’s when evil begins to take bigger breaths and grow and reproduce. And that’s happening right now, this week, while folks’ hearts are hardening, because constantly being on the outside looking in on tragedy is getting too painful.
My heart is hurting. I overwhelmingly trust in good and believe, on all levels, that it outweighs evil. But some days, in some places like Boston, it wasn’t strong enough. My heart is shattered because I’m disappointed brotherly love can’t always be the victor.
Instead of choosing hatred for those who do evil acts, let our hearts be softened by the heroism performed by clergy, first-responders, police, doctors, nurses, volunteers and even innocent children who are dropped to their knees in prayer.
Why? Because the alternative is too risky.
The only other option will ensure we become caught in raging flames of those evil fires. We can’t be trapped in the backdraft.
Through all the noise, never forget that things of beauty and acts of understanding and kindness are happening in all corners of this Earth. In every country. In every city. In every village. And no matter how many times evil happens this world over — no matter if it’s women being persecuted in the Middle East or genocide in Africa or murderous drug lords in Central America or dictators stealing the dignity of their countrymen or guns being shot at innocent schoolchildren or theater-goers or bombs being set off in a cheerful Boston crowd or an Oklahoma City daycare — I will still be in disbelief, time and time again.
It’s OK to be sad. I am, and deeply so. But take solace in knowing that for every one hateful coward, there are a million-plus good shepherds of society… male, female, young, old, black and white and every other shade of complexion.
We outnumber them.
When bad happens, my heart still will waver in its beating upon the announcement. My soul still will search for a way to write it off as a dream, even though it isn’t possible or logical. And my eyes always will search for those who, instead of flippantly saying, “people are just evil,” are already at work trying to choke out the hate and water the garden of kindness.
Good will win. Honor will prevail over grace.
We can’t succumb to a belief that hate cannot be overcome.
Love is alive.
But we must keep nourishing it or else we also are guilty — not of murder or of evil, but of apathy.
We will be guilty of allowing people to die in vain, all because we forgot the strength of goodness and hopefulness when they stand together as one.
Never forget to look for the grace.

 

image

My “Oklahoma Legacies” series is dedicated to chronicling life in my great home state, because ol’ No. 46 makes my heart beat pretty steady and strong. Every person and every place has a story — past and present. These are Oklahoma’s. Click here to see all the posts in my #OKlegacies series.

Birthday Presence: 37 things I tell myself about life


This week marks the passing of 37 years that I have been blessed with breath in my lungs.

I am not one for wanting a big to-do on my birthday. Kind words and thoughtful best wishes are gifts enough. That’s not because I am scared of growing older, nor am I someone who declares to be forever 29.

To me, the value in marking one more year is powerful in a quiet way. I have seen lives end much too young. Becoming wiser, maturing through mistakes and celebrating milestones is not a destiny afforded to all.

So we have to take it. Run with it. Love it. Live it.
Continue reading

The time my hair fell out and I grew a pair of wings

Because sometimes the inspiration to rise from the ashes, squeeze lemonade and soar like eagles comes from the unlikeliest of people and places.

I posted on Facebook this morning about my “bad hair day.”

I did it mostly because I don’t mind making fun of myself. In fact, that is one thing I can say I am good enough at doing I should be earning a professional paycheck for it.

We must try not to take ourselves too seriously.

I was given a boost from some construction workers this morning. Keep in mind those guys were working in Tulsa, where they have so many potholes to fill, they likely won’t have time to look at women for the next 25 years.

The potholes basically worked as beer goggles as I went by, my hair a nest under my disguise of a ball cap.

Continue reading

Fighter. Champion. Ironman.

Dear Baby Brother,

You have trained for this moment for seven years. We all have loved you and believed in you for the nearly 25 years since you took your first little breath.

As you prepare this morning for the biggest challenge of your life and to reach a level only the most elite of athletes attain, know these things and meditate on them.

The nervous moments ahead of competition are normal, even for Olympians. It’s OK to have them, just don’t allow them to win over precious space your head. Nervous moments mean you understand the adversities. They mean you not only want to slay the beast, but also that you respect it.

As our man Rocky said: “That’s how winning is done.”

Because you are ready. You are prepared. Say that to yourself as you walk to check in.

“I am ready. My body is ready. My mind is ready. I am prepared. My body is prepared. My mind is prepared.”

Continue reading

She even giggled through cancer

It has been said about many people after they pass away.

But when I say my aunt Pam was one of the nicest people on this Earth, it’s because I’m not sure if there’s life on other planets or she’d be immediately upgraded to the nicest person in the universe.

Pam giggled freely and had a childlike spirit about her.

She really did see the good in things, even when her body was being attacked by a horrible disease. She seemed grateful for every day, even over the course of the eight years of tests and medications and chemotherapy and surgeries and weeks and weeks and weeks in the hospital.

But she never stopped giggling. Continue reading