I’ve had to learn (still a working progress I might add!) to step into and embrace my uniqueness and differences, using the gifts God has given ME.
When Paul wrote the letter to the church in Rome he got it pretty spot on! He must have known that typically we tend to conform to the ways of the world and compare our gifts and abilities within the same breath.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think….6-8 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well… If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging…
Instead of doing what is considered the ‘norm’ in today’s society, why not step into the strength that God has given you and be transformed into the person YOU were created to be? Why not walk away from the crowd gossiping and pray for them instead? You may get a few looks but it’s what God sees that matters.
Paul then tells us that we have each been given different gifts- hear that? Not the same as the person next to you, DIFFERENT! Instead of comparing and wishing you had someone else’s; hair, eyes, pearly whites, body shape, house, their ability to manage a business; to teach, to parent, to pray- use and appreciate the gift God has given to YOU! As Joyce Meyer so brilliantly wrote, ‘even then they will flow out of us in a different way than they do in the person we admire’ How many teachers and schools are there in today’s society? And yet we are still able to offer jobs to a variety of different people because learners need just that- variety! They need different teaching styles to accommodate for the different learning styles. Identify the gifts God has given YOU and use them!
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
When I lack in confidence be it; body, image, personality or any other overwhelming thought leading me to a lack of self-confidence, I am reminded that I am ‘wonderfully made.’ In God’s eyes, He made me extremely good just the way I am.
In a culture where having the perfect image seems to be one of life’s main goals, we need to remember that we have a God who loves us the way He made us.
I feel passionately that we need to learn to love ourselves- not where we become obsessive and displeasing- but where we are accepting of who we are and can identify the strengths, abilities and gifts that God has blessed us with. We can appreciate and praise the gifts and qualities of others and ask God to help us develop in those- but when we find ourselves comparing and walk away with a deep unhappiness of why you don’t have what they do- we we need to stop and remind ourselves that we were made intentionally and with a purpose, we are loved and need to embrace all who WE are. Yes, we can all make healthy changes and ask God to help us do this- but when we become so self-obsessed on our image then its time to reflect.
I can say this because this used to be my daily ritual- waking up and going to sleep analysing my image; how I looked, my features and feeling totally unloved because I couldn’t even love myself- so why would anyone love me? How could they see past the imperfections that I so clearly saw?
Now I am defined by who God made me to be, I am defined by his unconditional love for me. On a daily basis I choose to embrace my body and personality, particularly now as my body goes through changes yet again to accommodate for our growing baby. My scars and stretch marks will tell a story of the 9-month journey I endured to carry our sweet baby girl- they will be proud reminders of every part of her growth into the woman she will become. I will not be ashamed, but wear these marks with honour and set an example for our daughter to embrace all the blessings God pours upon his children.
As we bring our daughter up in a world that focuses so much on changing who you are and image- I am determined to remind her of the promises of God and just how wonderful she is- just the way she is. To embrace all she has been given and know daily that she has a heavenly father who loves her, created her with purpose and gifts to be used. Do you know that this is true for you and for me?
Lastly, although I could go on, He wants you to seek approval, confidence and satisfaction through him not through others or things. I have become so frustrated over the years (and still do at times) with constantly trying to seek approval from others; be it in the workplace, at church, with my family and friends. I found myself becoming emotionally drained and exhausted. I have often sought satisfaction through new purchases of clothes and temporary ‘feel good’ fixes -my husband will be the first to testify how much I enjoy shopping for clothes- only at a bargain price though! (Just get that in there!) I can honestly say that all of the above, is just that- temporary!
It is Gods approval that matters- if all my efforts in work and other areas of my life go un-noticed, it doesn’t matter because God sees it all. I can purchase as many clothes as I desire, but it wont provide the everlasting satisfaction that knowing and receiving God’s love brings. First I have to know I am loved by Him, seek his approval and seek my confidence and strength through him- not the outside world. Yes, He will and has placed people in my life who can help, guide and support- but first seek him.
I challenge myself daily to find my identity in him- not through materials, seeking the approval of others or constantly comparing myself to others, what about you?