“It is just the way I am! Besides, my mother raised me to be an Alpha male. The important thing is I am happy with who I am!” That was the response of a male friend after I shared with him that I thought he had a very strong personality and my fear of being dominated by a man who has a strong personality. (Maybe I will discuss the root of that fear in a subsequent post).
I was not attacking his strong personality, for that is the quality I most like about him. I was simply peeling back the mask we so often wear, to expose a layer of my own vulnerability. At first I found his response sharp and a bit abrasive, but something he said caused me to quickly forget the sting of his reply. “I am happy with who I am!”, he had said.
How many of us can say that we are happy with who we are?
We live in a society where we are bombarded daily by a constant stream of suggestions, or more like pressure as to who we should be. Social media says that we should have many online friends to be popular. Never mind that the vast majority of these friendships are superficial anyway. Advertisements tells us that we need to drive a fancy car, wear a certain brand of makeup or clothing, drink alcohol or have sex to be happy or enjoy life. This is evident by how jovial the actors in the adds or on the billboards are made to seem. Some of us may even feel pressured to make a certain amount of money or live in a certain neighborhood or to accomplish a certain level of educational training; to be worthy, to be good enough or to be happy and satisfied with who we are. None of these things are bad in itself; but it is when our self-worth begins to depend on them, that we have a problem.
Don’t show too much emotion or feel too deeply, or need too much emotionally, lest you be accused of being needy or overly emotional. Do not show your vulnerability! We are often told by society and many in our lives that who we are is not good enough. The refrain has become so loud it is near deafening. There is always more to want, more to acquire and a myriad of things to fix about ourselves, in order to conform. We are lured into chasing after the superficial while hiding our vulnerabilities and our most authentic selves. Dare I say, that in addition to understanding who we are as created by God (see my previous post, “Who are you”?), it is only when we peel away our masks of pretense and shun the superficial, simultaneously embracing and exposing our vulnerabilities and our most authentic selves that we can become truly happy with who we are.
If we were all the same that would be pretty dull and boring, don’t you think?
Paul Brand a medical doctor and co-author of the book “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made”, dedicated a chapter to the topic of diversity. He begins by talking about how struck he is by the variety of all the cells that make up the human body. He briefly describes the appearance of each cell. “Chemically, my cells are almost alike but visually and functionally they are as different as the animals in a zoo”, he says. He goes on further to say that it seems safe to assume that God enjoys variety and not merely at the cellular level; having conjured up several hundred thousand species of beetles alone, not to mention the many other species of animals he created. Even the human species, he says, “made in God’s image, includes pygmies, Nubians, blonde Scandinavians, swarthy Egyptians, big boned Russians and petite Japanese”.
The bible aptly shows the diversity of each member of the body and the worth of each member.
“But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you”. In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care…. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity”. (1 Cor. 12, NLT)
Brand concludes that Christ is the body and that, “the joy of the Body increases as the individual cells realize that they can be diverse without becoming isolated outposts.”
You matter! You are special! You are wonderful! You have worth! You have been put here for a reason and you have something to offer the world that only you can; in your unique way. So, embrace your strengths as well as your weakness, the qualities that make you unique, those things that make you who you are, your passions, and your fears. Do not conform to the ideals of society or of others. Rather, give yourself permission to be who you are; reflecting the image and character of Christ of course. Commit to being all that God intended for you to be. Be your most real and best self. Be happy with who you are and make no apologies for it!
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