Psalm 139: 13 - 14
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Jeremiah 29: 11
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
The world has been tough lately, with so much negativity, so much anger so many challenges. This has gotten me wondering about my own sense of self and who I was created to be. I remember growing up feeling as if I didn’t fit in. I felt as if I was the odd one out and that if I could only learn to be the same as everyone else, I would be happy. I worked really hard at fitting in, but I never managed to succeed. As I was growing up there was no lack of other people who would immediately point out those times, places, and actions, that highlighted the fact that I as just a little bit different. I am not sure that much has changed since that time.
It seems as if you can’t go anywhere today without someone telling you that you have done something ‘wrong,’ or that you should have done something in a different way. It almost seems that if we don’t live exactly how others live, or how others expect us to live, well then we are doing something wrong. Julia Cameron, the American, teacher, author, artist, and poet, speaks to this in the following way, "Most of us are not raised to actively encounter our destiny. We may not know that we have one. As children, we are seldom told we have a place in life that is uniquely ours alone. Instead, we are encouraged to believe that our life should somehow fulfill the expectations of others, that we will (or should) find our satisfactions as they have found theirs. Rather than being taught to ask ourselves who we are, we are schooled to ask others. We are, in effect, trained to listen to others' versions of ourselves. We are brought up in our life as told to us by someone else! When we survey our lives, seeking to fulfill our creativity, we often see we had a dream that went glimmering because we believed, and those around us believed, that the dream was beyond our reach. Many of us would have been, or at least might have been, done, tried something, if….If we had only known who we were.”
Yet, the reality is that each and everyone of us was created to be a unique individual. We were created to be different from anybody else and in that difference there is beauty. The scripture that I picked, from Psalm 139, which by the way is one of my favourite, and Jeremiah, speak to the fact that we were created to be different. We were all created to be unique individuals who come to the world in a unique way, bringing our unique gifts to all we meet. It is in this uniqueness that there is found the beauty of diversity, which mirrors all of creation. We each have been created within the wondrous diversity of God’s creation and each one of us has been created to be a special and unique individual. When we force others into who we think that they should be, we rob them of the opportunity to come to learn who they truly are, and then embrace their true selves. In allowing them to embrace their true selves they are allowed to live authentic lives. This is freedom, to be who God created you to be. To be embraced in your uniqueness, to be celebrated for our individuality is one of the greatest gifts that we could give someone. So let us all see the diversity of others, not as a threat, but as something to celebrate and embrace.
God of infinite diversity, we ask that you teach us how to embrace our unique and diverse natures. Give us the courage to be who you created us to be and not bow down to the pressure to be who others think we need to be. Give us the wisdom to see those times when we are placing expectations on others to be who we think they should be and to allow them the space to be all that you created them to be. We ask this in the name of the one who came to challenge the status quo, your son, Jesus. Amen.