Maria is doing a one-handed handstand.

A nun comes into my hospital room with a warm smile on her face; “Hi there! Mind if I come in and visit? How are you feeling today?” My abdomen is being held shut by staples in three areas; it’s so swollen my 12-year-old frame looks pregnant and it hurts every time my older sister visits and makes me laugh. So I respond, “I feel good.” Of course! I’m a tough kid, last thing I’m going to do is admit to anyone other than my mother that I’m actually in pain. She looks at me all knowingly, “Oh good, that was a pretty major surgery you went through. Are you excited to go home?” I’m not usually comfortable talking to strangers but she reminds me of my godmother, and so I tell her that I am, but I have a few more days there keeping me from returning to my beloved basketball court. “Oh!” she says, “So you’re a basketball player? I should have guessed; you’re quite tall!” I’m already 5’9”, and my hands and feet are the size of giants. If I were a puppy, you’d think I was going to grow up to be a Great Dane. “I bet you’re pretty good. Are you?” I hesitate. I’ve been raised to be humble, not to brag, not to show off. When I have shown off, my parents are proud for sure, but “humility is a virtue” is what the church and therefore my parents teach, and I’m not about to start bragging in front of a NUN of all people; I’ll get sent straight to hell! “Well…” she asks, “are you?” “I, um, I’m pretty good,” I answer. She prods further, sensing I’m not telling her everything. “Just PRETTY good? Why do I get the sense you’re not telling me everything?” I look at her childishly, “Well, I’m good I guess, really good.” “That’s what I thought!” she says. “Just how good are you? Are you the strongest?” “Yes,” I respond. “Do you score the most points?” she continues. “Not always, but I’m a close second,” I perk up, “and I always get the most rebounds; I can jump the highest! I’m super fast! I’m even faster than the point guards, and no post players are faster than the point guards…EVER! I’m…” I stop suddenly realizing that she’s trapped me; I’m done for! I’ve been bragging to a nun. So much for my humility. “It’s okay,” she chuckles, “tell me more; God made you this way; he wants you to show off! Never stop showing off; it’s a disservice to He who made you as gifted as you are.” I stare at her in disbelief for a moment and then a smile of relief breaks across my face and an onrush of words flow out about my love of basketball and how happy it makes me, how I experience pure joy running down the court. She sits there patiently like a grandmother and listens to me babble, making me forget the staples, the IV, the catheter. God wants me to show off; he made me this way; he wants me to show everyone what a great job He did, is all I keep thinking. My poor parents…I think my athletic vanity exploded out of the hospital room that night and has never gone away. But I learned something very valuable from that nun. Whether you believe in God, some other spiritual being or none at all, the nuns words were spot on. You are unique; you are gifted; and you have the ability to do great things with your life and to help the lives of those around you. Don’t hide it; show it off; share it! Do what you’re best at whatever that is and be proud of it, that’s what you were made to do, at least for that moment in time. If it brings you joy, and it brings joy to those around you, for the love, show off!

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Written by: Maria Brezler

Maria Brezler has been a fitness expert and wellness coach for the past 15 years.

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