Nearly seven weeks ago, I was reading in my morning devotional reading and I came across the following verse:

Numbers 13:30  Then Caleb told the people near Moses to be quiet, and he said, “We should certainly go up and take the land for ourselves.  We can certainly do it.”

It hit me like a ton of bricks.  In the margin of my Bible, I wrote:  “How often to I look at something (a problem, a habit, an upcoming event) and say, ‘I can’t!’?  Today, March 6, 2010, I want to say, ‘I certainly can!’ to a specific thing — stopping my pet habit of 50+ years . . . Nail biting.  Not alone, but by God’s grace.  Lord, help me!”

And in the days that followed, I came back to the verse over and over again, and literally, dear friends, I did not bite my nails again.  They grew long and had to be trimmed, and I told my Sunday School girlies about it and challenged them to take God’s grace seriously.  That He wanted to help them do things they thought they couldn’t.  I honestly did not feel any pride in this.  I had been over fifty years coming to this place.  My Sweet Mama had tried everything she knew.  My Grandpa Yoder would scold me.  My Daddy one time gave me a serious whipping with the razor strop.  My Uncle Paul promised me a whole dollar, as did other people.  NOTHING HELPED.  Sometimes I stopped for a while, but I always went back to it.

This time has been so different.  I have a dear cousin who is fighting a battle of her own, and when I am tempted to nibble, I remember how much harder it is for her to break her habit than it is for me to break mine.  She is doing so well, and I am so proud of her, and her courage has helped me with my battle. 

However.  (Did you know that was coming?)  Monday night, our renter came over with a paper he wanted me to fill out and sign that would give the man who lives with them (I suspect  the arrangement may be rather temporary) Medicaid assistance for the young son who also lives there.  Mr. Ruiz does not speak enough English for me to communicate with him.  I called my cousin James and put him on the speaker phone so he could translate for me and the three of us could discuss this.  It was a difficult situation.  I have told my hispanic friends that I will help them all I can but I will never lie for them.  And in this situation, it was difficult to delineate between the truth and the “stretching of the truth” and the whole thing was very uncomfortable for me.  What Mr. Ruiz wanted me to say was that Mr. Rengle was paying the entire amount of rent.  All my family forsook me and fled.  James kindly advised me of what it was that Mr. Ruiz was asking, and said that I would need to decide how to handle it.  He was sympathetic to my situation, but it wasn’t his decision to make.  The truth is — I don’t actually know what their arrangement is.  I don’t who is paying what.

So I prayed for wisdom, and began to fill out the form with what I could honestly answer.  And when it came to the question about what the rent was for the trailer I decided to add a note beside it.  (It said that I could explain anything that I wanted to!) and I made this notation. 
“Mr. Ruiz and Mr. Rengle share the rent.  I honestly do not know what their arrangement is.” 
I handed it back to Mr. Ruiz, and he went off with it.  I don’t know what will happen from here, but at least I felt like I had made my postition clear.

And that is when I noticed that in the midst of all the quandary, I had bitten my left hand little fingernail right down to the quick.  It hurt!  It was a major hangnail, and I was surprised and then mad and then sad and then very, very determined.  It had a rough edge on the hangnail that kept getting caught, and I wanted to revert to my old habit of nibbling it off, and making it straight (which never really works, but it was how I did it for 50+ years).  I looked at that poor bitten off nail and decided that I would not put it back in my mouth for any reason at all.  It was just going to have to catch up with the rest of them.  I had this quiet assurance that if I left it alone, it would be okay eventually, and it would be way better for the rest of them.  So all week, I’ve looked at that poor short nail and reminded myself. “I can certainly do this!” and that has held me pretty steady. 

Here!  Have a look at that poor left hand!


I know — the cuticles need some work, but the nails are certainly not bitten off — except that poor little finger.  But it will grow out!  And I intend to give it a chance.




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6 responses to “

  1. What a wonderful challenge. And what a blessing your testimony is.  You know, there are times when God says, “Prove me.”  We do that by taking a promise He has given us and believe He meant what He said, regardless of how we feel or what we see. You have done that and He is provimg His faithfulness to you in this area.  Another promise He has given is that though a just man falls seven times, he will not be utterly cast down.  You have seen His faithfulness in that when you allowed the tension and stress of the situation to cause you to mindlessly fall back into the old habit — but He picked you back up and set you back on the path!  Isn’t He good. I believe this is a promise (Num. 13:30) that I can claim and hold on to for something I’ve been struggling with as well.  Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. Hurrah for your victory!  Nail bititng for most of your life must have been difficult to put aside. Being honest on that paper  makes for a better night’s sleep doesn’t it.

  3. Good for you, Mary Ann.  You can do it with God’s help!

  4. In the middle of all our needs/situations, HE shows Himself!

  5. You were certainly faced with a choice that tested your honesty.  I think you can be commended even if it meant biting your nail.  You didn’t injure your integrity.

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