April 12, 2019

Joyful Witness / Kimberly Pohovey

Conversation leads to epiphany that we are kissed by God

Kimberly PohoveyI couldn’t help but look at the beautiful little girl with the mop of curls happily sitting on the doughnut shop counter. I’m sure her mother thought I was rude for staring.

Not wanting them to be self-conscious, I stepped closer and told Mom that I too had a large red birthmark on my face. Though mine is conspicuously hidden on the side of my face, normally concealed by my choice of hairstyle, this little girl had one that covered her forehead and snaked down her nose. I showed the wiggly toddler mine. Then I told her mother what my own mom told me long ago.

When I was about 7 years old, I came home from school one day and burst into tears. My alarmed mom asked what was wrong. I told her that kids at school kept picking on me because of my birthmark, and said it looked like the side of my face was bleeding. There was name-calling involved. I asked her why I had to have this mark.

My mom gathered me in her arms and told me that my birthmark was where God kissed me before I was born. “Really?” I said. And instantly I went from feeling inflicted to believing I was special.

Years later, my son was sitting on my lap and asked about my birthmark. Again, I shared with him what my mom said to me. Excitedly, he asked, “Did God kiss me, Mom?” Admittedly, I was trying to do some fast thinking since he doesn’t have a birthmark. Before I could answer, he said, “I know, it’s my double crown. Maybe God gave me the noogies before I was born!”

My younger son, not wanting to be left out, decided God must have used a Sharpie to make a dot on his thumb—a large mole he referred to as his “lucky freckle.” And he, too, felt special.

Sometime later, I pondered our collective need to feel special in God’s eyes. My mom simply told me a story to make me feel better, but the truth is, we are all marked by God. A verse in Scripture tells us that God has “anointed us” (2 Cor 1:21) with his Holy Spirit.

In the Bible, being anointed means to be God’s chosen one. You don’t get any more special than being specifically chosen by God. Drenched with the Holy Spirit, we have been set apart for a special calling—to know, love and serve him. God has set us apart for himself—to act as caretakers, following him all our days, and standing firm in faith.

A verse from the prophet Jeremiah comes to mind: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jer 1:5). How wonderful to think God knew us from before we were even born? I love the imagery of God leaning over to kiss me the way a parent does, his face full of love and the promise of my life ahead.

Perhaps we feel special because we came from him, we were molded in his image, and, after a faithful life of service, we trust that we will one day return to him.

(Kimberly Pohovey is a member of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis. She is the director of mission advancement for Archdiocesan Education Initiatives.)

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