Do you ever look around and wish you were someone else?
Or maybe you have it in your mind that someone you know is the poster-child for something you aspire to be?
For example… Shiela is so giving and kind and caring, she’s always thinking about others and can manage everything. She is the perfect example of a Christian that I know, she remembers everyone’s names and birthdates and writes everyone a handwritten note for their birthday. She’s so good at reading scriptures, praying, and serving all day. She’s so selfless and thoughtful… sigh… I wish I could be like Shiela.
It is dangerous ground to tread if we follow this line of thinking to the end. We find what we really boils down into something like this…
Thought: I think Shiela is the perfect Christian and I’m nothing like Shiela.
Erroneous Conclusion: I’m a bad Christian because I’m nothing like Shiela. God must not love me because I’m a bad Christian and am nothing like Shiela. He must love her more than me. Shiela is better than me because God loves her more.
This kind of thinking is erroneous and creates a wedge between us, Shiela, and God and allows Satan to twist our thoughts into pretzels. With Satan’s help, in no time, the adoration we once had for Shiela can turn into disgust for her, making her into our idol. Standing on this pedestal, we can begin to both worship her and hate her at the same time as well as hating ourselves for these thoughts. We end up in a trap of self-loathing and self-abuse as we compare her to ourselves as well as put her in an unfair position, elevating her to perfection, a position she cannot hold for long.
Can I tell you the truth?
The truth is that you are who you are, for a good reason and the more time you spend drooling and pining over other people’s talents, the less time you’ll have to strengthen your own.
You are fearfully and wonderfully made by God. Unique as a snowflake, and almost as fragile, there will never be another person like you.
Life is just too short to waste fretting about who you’re not and what you don’t have.
God has woven you with specific traits and characteristics that will serve you well if you take the time to identify them, maximize them, and creatively bless others with them.
There’s also only one Shiela. Our strengths are given to us to serve our unique life missions. Shiela’s mission here on Earth will be different than yours, promise.
When I think about this I realize that this, wishing I were as good at something else as someone else I know, I am creating a level of separation between me and them and that’s not what God wants.
God has told us to be one, he’s said that if we are not one, then we are not his. One with him and one with our neighbors. To be unified in building His kingdom on the Earth. To be unified enough to show the devil that Love has more power than jealousy, covetousness, strife, comparisons, and hatred. To show the devil that light shines in the darkness and the darkness can’t even understand (comprehendeth not) the light. When, instead of jealously coveting our neighbor, we can love ourselves and them for who we each uniquely are, we have lit the world and pushed away the darkness.
How can I be one with my brother or sister if I believe they are better than me? How can I be one with God if I believe that he made a mistake when he made me? That I am an afterthought, an oddball, a factory reject. God doesn’t make mistakes or factory rejects, which means you, my friend are not a mistake and the special package that makes up you was intentional, even if you are a bit of an oddball, that was purposeful.
Well, friends, what are we to do then? How are we to accept who we are, appreciate others for who they are, and still strive to grow?
I have a few suggestions and they all revolve around pondering, prayer, and seeking the truth. Personally, I think finding the truth with the help of the Spirit, is the best thing to do.
I’ll share some truths with you that I’ve found on this journey.
If I’m being completely honest, the truth is, I don’t really know Shiela. Not really at all. Even if Shiela is my mom and I’ve known her all my life, how much have I really known her and how much do I know her now? From day to day we are such different people and rarely does Shiela share her heart and deepest intentions with me.
The truth is that God gave me my own specific strengths and it is my job to discover them.
The truth is that God wants me to love and appreciate Shiela in a healthy way, congratulating her for her strengths, drawing on her strengths, and thanking her for blessing myself and others with her developed strengths.
The truth is that Shiela has probably put a lot of time and attention into growing herself and I can do the same thing with my strengths if I want to focus on them (instead of hers and instead of my weaknesses).
The truth is that Shiela is still here on the Earth which means that she’s still got work to do, which includes, learning how to overcome her natural man, her trials, temptations, and burdens. She needs my help not my adoration.
The truth is that what I focus on will grow. If I focus on my own flaws and weaknesses and Shiela’s strengths, they will swell and grow. If instead, I focus on my strengths and leave Shiela to concern herself with her own, we will probably both swell and grow.
The truth is it’s easier to strengthen your strengths and grow your strengths than it is to try to turn your flaws into strengths. For example, if Shiela is great at creating close connections with people by remembering their names and birthdates, and that’s not a strength for you, that’s ok. There is most definitely something you’ve got a strength in that will help you relate to people from a different direction. Maybe you’re great at lifting the mood, helping people organize their time or their thoughts, remembering to say thank you, creating games or analogies that bring people closer together, you could be a patient listener, good at conversation, or you love to show your love for others with gifts, service, warm hugs, quality time, or a friendly smile. Discovering what makes you unique can be a very fun journey.
The truth is most people who take the time to build a life they love, learn to improve flaws only when they’re in the way of them developing their strengths, so focusing solely on our flaws only causes us to waste precious time. For example, the “weakness” of being shy often gets in the way of several of my strengths, so I choose to do “scary” things (like work on my weakness by bravely going out of my way to talk to people) while also improving my strengths. Some of my weaknesses may never need to be addressed, but if they do, I will address them in order to continually grow my strengths.
Keep pondering the truth about you, your strengths, and your Shiela and her strengths.
After finding the truth and taking the time to reflect, I find it’s time to unite myself with God and my fellow man again, it’s time for repentance. I think in this scenario, it’s safe to say that if I was coveting Shiela’s talents and discounting my own, I was turned more toward being true to Shiela and following after Shiela, than being true to God and following after him. This repentance humbles me and makes me ready for the next thing I am to be taught from Shiela, from nature, from God, from anyone.
So, ask yourself, what are my strengths and how I can use them to benefit others? What are my talents and how do they harmonize with the Shiela’s in my life? In what ways can I be an instrument in the hands of my Heavenly Father, if I focus on what I am naturally good at? Could Shiela and I use our strengths together to serve the Lord?
This feels way better than coveting Shiela’s ability to be an instrument in God’s hands.
Paul describes this idea in the New Testament as he describes us as the members of the body of Christ. Some of us are hands, and hands are very useful, some of us are feet, yes, those are useful too. Some of us are elbows, now that’s a body part I don’t want to live without.
In truth, I think that just as God made the human body with each of it’s parts having a specific job, so too, he made us to perform specific things. We may feel like the left fourth toenail, but hey, even that toenail strengthens and protects the toe from the elements of life.
So, can you be OK with who you are today? Can you set down your envy to be eyes or eyelashes, and appreciate that God designed you to add strength to the body, regardless of your station? As you learn to focus on what your strengths are, you’ll find that even if you’re an elbow or a toenail, he’ll polish you up and manicure you and make you the best little appendage you can be. So trust him. He loves you and he doesn’t want you to be Shiela, he wants you to be you and to be united with Shiela in bringing light and life and love into this darkening world.