Who Is a Number 8?
by John W. Gray III
I wasn’t the coolest kid in school. I didn’t have the best clothes all the time. Instead of taking me to a barbershop, my mom would cut my hair to save money. And I was terribly awkward when it came to speaking to girls. Guys made fun of me because of my discount store clothes, lack of a cool haircut, and buckteeth. Add to all of this a diagnosis of alopecia and you have the perfect recipe for long-term virginity. I was always picked last to play sports on the playground. Seriously! Didn’t matter what sport it was—basketball, football, or baseball—nobody wanted me on their team. I threw like a girl. Wait, scratch that! There are some amazing women softball players. I threw like someone who had no clue where the ball was actually supposed to go. It wasn’t until I had failed repeatedly to make the baseball team that I found out why I threw this way. I was left-handed but my mom had bought me a right-hand glove. Thanks, Mom!
I maybe had two “fights” in my whole school career—and I lost them both. A younger kid named Myron threw rocks at my bike once and I told him to stop. He didn’t, so I walked over to him across the brown mounds of dirt on the baseball field like I was really going to do something about it. He hit me right in the eye. I immediately said, “I quit.” It might be a little funny now but I also remember the feelings of isolation that came from this constant ridicule. Not to mention that I was always at church. My mother kept me in the choir, Boy Scouts, and probably every church play ever written. So, in sum, I was the corny, virginal, bucktoothed church boy. I can’t even count how many times, when everyone else was out partying, I was at home with my mama. She said I couldn’t do what everyone else did. She said I had a calling on my life. It didn’t always feel that way though. When I was younger, I hated this calling Mama said I had. It made my life so lonely.
I was a number 8.
Called by God: A Game Changer
Do you remember the moment that was the game changer for you? You know, when that person or event showed you that things would not be the same? Maybe after years of losing, you finally won the big game—exactly at the moment when people who could offer you a college education or a professional contract were watching.
Maybe after struggling with your voice forever, you finally sang a solo and nailed it in front of the entire school. Or maybe after a million and one false starts, you finally launched your new business. It could be that you have been sick for a long time and, at last, you receive a new diagnosis that you are now “cancer-free.” These are all game changers! Moments that turn the tide for you and help you believe something entirely different about yourself. It is when you know you are stronger than you thought, more brave than you knew, and that you have a bigger purpose than you believed. These moments don’t necessarily mean you will look different or that other people won’t see the same person and continue to ignore, dismiss, or try to keep you down. But what is important is that something has changed in you. You know that—in spite of appearances—your heart has changed. You know that you are in the will of God and nothing can stop you from having your dream.
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