I am sure most of us have heard of the expression “He’s the strong, silent type”. After our second son, Samuel, was born, I came to really know the meaning of this phrase. Even as a baby he was very quiet, rarely making any noise. I even at one point became concerned that perhaps he was having trouble learning how to talk. It turned out, there was no need to worry. Though he never said much, he apparently was soaking in all the words around him and storing them up in his repertoire. Between 2 talkative parents and a chatty brother, there was certainly no lack of words in his world! It was just that he was sparing in using words. He only talked when he felt there was a need for it. He is still like that!

When Sam went to boarding school in high school (due to a shortage of appropriate schools for him where we were living in Kenya), he would be gone for 6-7 weeks at a time before either mid-term or end of term break. By the time he got home, I would be eager to hear all the news of what was happening at school. It was a great school with a good reputation of caring dorm parents and lots of extracurricular activities – plenty to keep a student happy and engaged. Nevertheless, at home on break, Sam would sit quietly, working on whatever activity (usually a computer game) he was engrossed in. Even at family dinners, where the rest of us chatted incessantly about our respective days (by that time a considerably verbose sister was added to the mix of chatty people in Sam’s world), Sam was largely quiet. Poor Sam…rarely was there any peace and quiet for him. Who knows…perhaps he enjoyed having the chatter around him, listening, so long as he did not have to make any contributions? I don’t know for sure…he never said. But he did not appear morose or depressed. In fact, he seemed content and he appeared to like having family around him, sometimes requesting family times. He was just quiet. When he came home on breaks, I would have to watch carefully for those rare moments when he was ready to talk, and then engage quickly, before the window of opportunity closed. Unfortunately, these times typically occurred between midnight and 2:00 am!

He still is like this. One of the things that puzzled me about my strong, silent son, was how he can be so people oriented (he actually is) but say so little! He had his small group of friends at school, and yet he was very influential in many areas. He was this introvert, and yet excelled in drama. This still is difficult to understand at times. God has made each of us uniquely. I majored in psychology and have done a lot of work with personality. I find the subject fascinating. There are several personality types, up to 16 major types, according to Meyers-Briggs. However, even people sharing the same personality type are unique. Just as no two person’s fingerprints are alike, so there are no carbon copies of individual personalities.

A scripture passage comes to mind that says “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well…My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with you.” (Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18)

Each of us are unique, designed by an infinitely creative being. When I think about how the human being is formed and functions, both physically and psychologically, it never ceases to amaze me. One of the fascinating things about parenting that I discovered was the uniqueness of each child and how important it is to treat each kid as an individual – whether in praising them, spending time with them, communicating with them, or even disciplining them. So, God does with us too. He is intimately acquainted with our uniqueness and knows just how to treat us. This gives me great comfort, especially when I get discouraged about my weaknesses. He knows me through and through and treats me accordingly. Truly how wonderful are your thoughts concerning me, dear Lord!

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