“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
“Lord, I wish You had given me a beautiful voice. I would love to sing like her.” “God why do I have to be so short?” “If only I had so-and-so’s creative talents, I could make so many pretty things.”
I know you’ve said something similar and so have I. We look at others who sing or play or create or have some other seeming advantage over us and wonder why we are the way we are. Too short. Too tall. Shy. A little rough around the edges. I want to be someone else – someone better. But I’m just plain ole’ me.
I thought that way once too. I’m rather loud and, as a former boss once said, “she doesn’t suffer from a lack of self-expression.” I was a chatterbox when I was a little girl and that never changed. I was often told, “You need to talk less and listen more.” But no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t change. Oh how I longed to be like those quiet, dignified ladies who always spoke with an “inside” voice. They didn’t burst out with laughter. They listened patiently to others. They didn’t always have to express their thoughts and opinions. They were everything I was not.
A while back I had the opportunity to attend a nationally-known Christian women’s conference. I wasn’t planning to go. It had been a very difficult year for my family and I just didn’t have the money for such a luxury, but my dear friends pitched in and provided for my ticket, hotel and meals, plus a little spending money too. It was an unexpected blessing. We had snagged seats on the floor in the very front row, nothing between us and the stage but a few feet of open space. I sat near the end of the row and had a bird’s eye view of the platform where the other speakers sat waiting their turn and listening to the person on stage. I had a blast. The speakers were both profoundly spiritual and hysterically funny. I listened and I laughed. No, I howled. I roared with laughter. I nearly fell in the floor a few times with my sides splitting. I so needed this event; it fed my spirit and released a lot of tension.
Before the final speaker we all took a break (picture 14,000 women running to the bathrooms!). I stood in the line beside a new friend I’d seen at church, but never took the time to get to know. We shared the hotel room with two other women that weekend and we just clicked. As we waited I told her, “I’m so glad to get to spend this time with you. I’ve always admired your quiet, gentle spirit and I hope some of it has rubbed off on me.” She turned to me with a puzzled look and said, “I’ve always admired your bold, fun spirit, and I was hoping the same thing for me.” We laughed and hugged, finished our business and went back to our seats.
As I was putting my purse back under my seat, I felt a hand touch my back. I stood up and turned to face the president and emcee of the conference. She told me, “I just wanted you to know how much the speakers have enjoyed watching you having such a good time this weekend. It really blesses them to see you respond to what they are saying.” I thanked her and shared with her that this weekend had been a gift from my friends and she said, “Clearly God had a reason for you to be here, if nothing else to be a blessing to our team of speakers.”
I sat down in stunned silence – one of the few times I’ve ever been that quiet. As I thought about what she said and the conversation with my friend during the break, I heard that “still, small voice” speak to my heart. “Child, don’t you realize – your mouth and personality are not a character flaw. It’s how I made you. I gave you that big mouth because I intend to use it. You’re going to be my voice in the world.”
Precious friend, it’s time to stop looking at who you aren’t and focus on who God created you to be. Maybe you don’t have a soaring soprano voice, but no one can build a better stage than you. Your gift is important in the Kingdom of God. Perhaps you stumble and stammer as a public speaker, but you are able to build one-on-one relationships that lead to changed lives. I have a friend who is quite short and is able to relate well with children because she can literally get down on their level. If you wish you could create something beautiful but you keep hot-gluing your fingers together, don’t fret. God has created you for a special purpose that is unique and specific. Paul says that you are “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for [you] to do” (Ephesians 2:10). It’s an important work and something only you can fulfill.
You are exactly who you are because God created you with a unique plan and a specific purpose in mind –be thankful that you are one-of-a-kind and let your light shine for the Lord.
Holy Father, I’ll never forget Your words to me that day. I am who I am because You made me this way, to do Your good work. My voice, my hands, my feet, my smile, my gifts and talents – it’s all Yours. Use me Lord. Amen.
(If you want to learn more about your unique spirit gifts, I recommend https://gifts.churchgrowth.org/analysis/index.php as a good spiritual gifts inventory resource.)