Today I write to you about being unique, which each of you certainly are. If you want to read the details of my personal tale with embracing my own identity, turn back a few pages to my testimony.
To summarize, when I was growing up I felt physically unusual, and I was anything but ordinary when it came to my personality. All I wanted was to be skinny, light skinned, blonde and quiet. I wanted to give off an air of grace and intelligence; to be a wisp of girly sophistication. Instead, I was a swarthy, clumsy, rotund, brown-skinned curly-headed explosion of energy, and I seemed to be more Talking Heads than Mozart in every possible way. As I shared in my testimony, feeling different just made me hide myself as a kid and into my teenage years. I spent so much energy trying to NOT be who I was, and it was exhausting.
I met the Lord in high school, and as I’ve grown in Him I’ve had quite a shift in perspective regarding the way I’ve been created. By God’s grace, I’ve started to see little ways in which my uniqueness is not only a good thing, but an important thing.
Today in church, my pastor said something that I think helps shed some light on the truth of the matter. He said, “If you’re a foot in the body of Christ, the church limps without you.” He was referring to Paul’s words in his first letter to the Corinthians. He talks about the body of Christ (all those who belong to God) in a beautiful way. He says, “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ…Now if the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”
Over the years God has revealed to me that my struggle to accept the way that I was made is not only heart-breaking to Him because of how much He loves me, but it is hindering the unique work He has for me to do as a part of His body. Each of us was created by God for God, and the way that we were created has a special place in the Kingdom. Not only that, but when we work hard to be someone else, we rob the Body of Christ of the part we’re supposed to be. The body limps when the foot is working hard to be an eyeball. In short, the world doesn’t need you to be some other girl, it needs you to be you!
I recently re-watched “The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of The Dawn Treader” with some friends and was blown away by C.S. Lewis’ illustration of this truth. Lucy Pevensie, the pure-hearted and gullible youngest in the story is growing into herself as a young woman. She struggles to find beauty in her own uniqueness when she is constantly comparing herself to her older sister, Susan. Susan is everything Lucy wishes she were.
Lucy comes upon a book of enchantments and finds a page with just the spell for what troubles her; a spell to take on the form of any beauty she wishes to embody. Lucy wakes one night, and her wish has come true. She is Susan. At first, she delights in it. She looks over herself and is gleaming with pride at her appearance; finally, she is who she wants to be!
Then, she steps into the world as Susan. Only, the world is different. She soon finds that Susan and her brothers know nothing of Narnia, nothing of Aslan and their magical destinies. Something isn’t right, and Lucy, terrified by the troubling reality, wakes from the spell to be face to face with Aslan ( the Christ character). Aslan looks at her with a heavy heart and reminds her that the world doesn’t need Lucy to be Susan, it needs her to be Lucy. For without Lucy, the Pevensie children would have lacked the wonderment to come upon the wardrobe, to find Narnia, and to come to know Aslan and their true identities. Lucy, by wanting so badly to be someone else, took herself out of the world and the consequences were dire.
Sometimes I feel that same way. I want to be some other woman. I want to be some woman who has her stuff together, who is neat and tidy, who is slender without trying, who isn’t bold and who doesn’t find themselves embarrassing their husbands by dancing all-out to the faint James Brown track playing in the supermarket. Sometimes I want to be a woman who never has to get up in front of people to do something scary like sing a song or speak publicly, who never laughs so loudly while at dinner with a friend that the whole restaurant looks on like someone has lost their ever-loving mind.
Then I think of Lucy. I think about a body without whatever part I am, be it spine or eardrum or elbow, and I am reminded that my uniqueness is not some burden to bear; it’s a gift to give.
God made me loud and funny, and I see Him bring joy through my awkward jokes in ways that make people feel free to be a little weird. God made me OK with a mess, and accepting that about myself helps people in my life feel like they don’t need to be perfect. God made me naturally curvy and in a city like Los Angeles, I see it help girls close to me feel safe to give themselves grace. God allowed me to experience pain in certain areas, and I have been given opportunities to share my wounds with women who are desperate to hear someone say that they aren’t alone; I see heaven come to earth in small moments where I get to be the one to tell them.
That’s just my story. I don’t know the ins and outs of all of your beautiful details. However, I can say with confidence that God, the Artist, would sign His name proudly on every part of who you are, and He has specific work for you to do as yourself. Don’t wish yourself away and take yourself out of this amazing story. Don’t amputate the foot from the body.
Own your glorious foot-ness. Point and flex and wiggle your toes.
You, dear sister, exactly as you were made to be, have a part to play in the Kingdom of Heaven coming to earth. We don’t need you to be anyone else. Stop the tiresome work of trying so hard to be someone else. I promise you’ll have way more fun being who you naturally are, anyway.
So please, please please be you, and I’ll do the same. We need each other, after all.
*Yes, this is a real photo of me as a 4 year old and yes, that girl is looking at me like I’m insane*