I love spring time.
Although I could do with a little less mud, I still adore its deep, earthy smell as the snow melts into the ground. The spread of green through the now-uncovered grass, the buds sprouting on the tree branches, the appearance of clear blue skies, and the warm sunlight beaming through the cool breeze…it’s absolutely beautiful.
Spring seems very much like a treasure hunt. Early on, you need to look closely to spot the evidences of new life. The tiny flowers beginning to bloom, the rounding belly on a cat expecting kittens, and the darts of color as birds return to their warm-weather homes.
As the months progress and the days grow warmer, those treasures become more and more obvious. It’s impossible to ignore the bold colors, air such a comfortable temperature that it feels like a hug, and the baby critters waddling or stumbling around. As cold, hard, and long as the winter may have felt, spring always makes it feel worth it.
Often, the bleaker the winter, the brighter the spring appears.
And yet, just as the charms of snowflakes and frosted tree branches wear off in winter, it’s possible to tire of spring as well. At some point, the colors can stop looking so bright, and we begin to wish the mud and rain would give way to the clear, green warmth of summer.
And what about after we’ve had our fill of summer? Yes, I do believe such a thing is possible. It’s then that we begin to look forward to the cooling temperatures and sunshine colors of autumn – and afterward, the coziness of winter.
Without the others, any one season wouldn’t seem as special. It’s the contrast – the changing – that highlights the blessings of the rest. The beauty is found in the variety.
It’s the same way for people.
I’ll admit that I’ve often brushed aside the saying, ‘Everyone is special’. When I’m feeling inadequate, untalented, or mediocre, it’s all too easy for me to scoff at the attempted encouragement and agree with the common retort, ‘If everyone is special, no one is.’
But that’s not true at all, and I’m coming to believe that more and more every day.
I’ve always struggled to know how to label myself. In nearly every aspect of my life, I’m not any extreme. There are very few things I have strong opinions on, and even when I don’t agree with someone, rarely will I ever push the issue. I’m not bold and articulated, but I’m also not one of those people who are so sweet others just can’t be offended or stay mad. I’m just…me.
Even within my siblings, I see it. I’m not as logically-minded and book-smart as my brother, but not nearly as creative and imaginative as my sister. I’m not as introverted as my sister, but I’m far from as extraverted as my brother. My sister is known for bringing others joy with her goofy antics and bubbly laugh, and my brother is quick-thinking enough to have a witty, often deadpan remark for every occasion. I don’t match either side. I’m just…me.
Even in physical things, I don’t reach any extremes. My hair isn’t straight, but it’s not curly, and it’s not especially long or short. My eyes aren’t a deep blue, but neither are they bright. I’m not very strong and muscular, but neither am I thin and weak. I’m not the oldest, the youngest, or the middle child. I’m just…me.
Even in areas I’d consider to be my strengths – such as writing, music, or caring for others – there are always others that can do those things better. They can crank out novel after novel with flawless prose, master an instrument in a matter of months, or live a life of seemingly unceasing humility, grace, and love. But try as I might, I can never manage to be like them. I can never match their personality or attributes.
I’m just me.
And for a long time, I’ve haven’t believed just being me is enough.
It’s baffling to me the amount of times I’ve assured someone that they’re just the way God created them to be, that they have talents, skills, and traits that are just what God chose to give them, and that they have a God-given purpose role in this world that only they can fill – and then I’ve turned around and mentally criticized myself for not having the looks, talents, or traits of someone else. I’ve been a living contradiction.
I really do believe that God doesn’t make mistakes. Not in creating the world, not in overseeing it, and not in creating or dwelling with us either. There’s not one single hair on our head that He hasn’t specifically placed there – and He’s put careful thought into its color, thickness, and shape. He didn’t throw random mixes of traits, dreams, and talents into quickly mashed-together bodies and call us done.
No, the very things you’re self-conscious about may be the very things that draw others to you – and to God. And they’re certainly not mistakes. God has a purpose for every aspect of you, from the shape of your jaw, to the length of your toes…from the sound of your voice to the coordination in your feet. And each and every tiny detail about your personality has been chosen the same way. None of them will ever prove to be useless.
I’d love to say that I’ve completely taken this to heart, and that I never feel insecure about myself anymore. But that’s not true. Every day there are more insecurities that tug at my heart and mind. Every day I must choose not to dwell on all the things I feel are inferior about myself.
But in those insecurities are opportunities to practice trust.
Trust that God knew what He was doing when he gave me my personality. My body. My desires, dreams, and goals. Trust that even though I may not always agree with the decisions He made, I only ever see a tiny fraction of how I influence the world, and how what I look like, do, work toward, and say changes others’ lives.
As much as I may wish I was like someone else, if I actually was, would it be a good thing?
If we all looked the same, the world would be so very boring. Can you imagine looking around and seeing the same skin color, the same hair length, and the same body build over and over? Just like living in just one season forever would cause us to become blind to its beauty, seeing just one look on humans would bore and disappoint us.
And who’s to say what one person we should look like? What makes one eye color, face shape, or height better than any other? Beauty doesn’t lie within one type – it comes from variety! It comes from the fact that there isn’t, never has been, and never will be, anyone exactly like you.
You’re you. I’m me. And that’s just how it should be.
One person’s courage and physical strength may allow them to be a firefighter, while another’s sensitivity and humility may lead them to care for residents of a nursing home. One person’s natural gifts with children may bring about a loving home for little ones, while others’ temperaments are perfectly suited for singleness and far-reaching careers. One person may be right at home and make others comfortable in social situations, while others flourish in solitude and excel at behind-the-scenes jobs others couldn’t bear.
Just like it would be impossible to pick a snowflake that’s better than all the rest, no human is better than all others. God doesn’t pick favorites. And He doesn’t create them either.
Before you were born, from the time you were conceived, God chose each and every detail about you. Every intricacy of your appearance, your talents, your dreams, and your personality. He has a plan for each of them. And for each and every other person in history.
It’s tempting to look at ourselves and fantasize about being different…being what we feel is “better”. But ultimately, we need to seize those moments of doubt and self-deprecation and turn them into opportunities to trust and believe that God knows what He’s doing.
Oh, I’m trying so very hard to learn this. To take it to heart. To remember it, even in my most intense moments of loathing my appearance, skills, or personality. And the more I continue to pray God would press the truths into me, the more I’m starting to remember and believe them.
Does being certain in who we are mean that we should never strive to improve? Absolutely not. We’re all sinful after all. I know very well the areas I need to work on and pray about. The parts of my personality that have been influenced by my sinful nature and must be restored to what God intends.
For example, my stubbornness can either be used to keep myself rooted in sin – or to remain steadfast in fighting it. My sensitivity can either cause me to be hurt by any feedback – or it can help me be deeply aware of emotions in myself and others. My natural drive to do my best can either keep me set on perfection – or it can help me to do great things for God.
I’m far from feeling sure of myself, far from being completely confident in the knowledge that I’m me for a reason – but I keep praying. Keep soaking in these truths. Keep dwelling on Scriptures reminding me. And I pray you’ll do the same.
God has so many plans for you. So many things He wants you to do…so many people He wants you to help…and so many places He wants you to shine His light. So many ways that only you can influence the world. Even when you don’t feel special, you are.
You are precious. You are unique. You are you.
And you are enough.
Each of you should use whatever gift
you have received to serve others,
as faithful stewards of God’s grace
in its various forms.
(1 Peter 4:10 NIV)