by Anita Miles
Recently a very close friend texted me randomly and said, “Remind me again what your word for the new year is!” I reminded her and that was the end of our text thread. We are constantly having conversations this time of the year about why we choose the word we choose and how it matters to us in each season we find ourselves in. A few days later, I was talking to someone after church and up my friend walked to lay a little piece of wood sitting in a prop with my word for the year written on it with vinyl letters. It was the most thoughtful gift! I loved it and couldn’t wait to get it on my desk at work. She had ordered it on Etsy and wanted me to have a constant reminder of my word, but for me, it also gives a visual reminder of how thoughtful she was.
I think that some of the most meaningful things that people do for us is when they find ways to be original. That would also explain why Etsy and the DIY creators are so popular. People love to have items and create things that are specific to them, their needs, have meaning, and stand out in their originality. It’s interesting that as much as we love something created just for us, many of us live our lives exactly the opposite.
If we took the time to ponder how much people attempt to follow the paths of others and imitate their lives and actions, as opposed to living out their own talents and passions, it would be quite staggering. I also always have a twinge of sadness go through me when I scroll through social media and see people who have gone to great lengths to disguise their flaws with filters and the likes - to the point that they are almost unrecognizable. I totally understand that some of that is done all in fun and for humor, but many times it’s not. It becomes a mask to cover the things that bring us face to face with the fact that we’re aging and we don’t look like a teenager or as young as we’d like to be (or feel) any more.
If we could wrap our minds around the fact that God created us differently for a purpose for the furtherance of His kingdom - it would change the way we operate.
Sometimes we fail to see that the greatest gift we could give the world is who we really are - and most of the time we are more effective when our imperfections are visible.
Isaiah 64:8 says this: “But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.”
At the beginning of the year we (Pursuing Virtue writers) had a Facetime call discussing some things we wanted to focus collectively on this year. It turned into a very enlightening and inspiring conversation as we sat and talked and listed names of people who have used their unique talents, giftings, and callings to better their communities and the people surrounding them.
There’s nothing more fulfilling for anyone’s life - no matter who we are - than to be involved in something that is bigger than we are.
NOTHING! If we could remember what is done for Christ will be the only things that matter in the end, it would save us SO much stress and heartache. Jesus said that even if it’s as simple as a cup of cold water we give to someone in need - there is a reward for it.
There is nothing that God desires from any of us more than our authenticity. He has created each of us differently with unique giftings and passions for a greater purpose that is up to us to discover and carry out. Yet so often, we are so dissatisfied with the perception of ourselves, we stretch ourselves beyond reason to try to create a world for ourselves that mimics that of someone else. It’s full of tasks that make us miserable because we are not operating in the realm that God created us specifically for. I, personally, do not want to live in a world of clones where everyone is exactly the same.
The one thing that we must have in common is that we must model our character after the heart of Jesus. After that - God has called us to seek after the talents and giftings and live out the areas of our lives where we can make the biggest difference in the lives of others and show others the love of Jesus. That looks different for everyone.
Romans 12 says that the gifts of the body of Christ are differing according to the grace that is given to us. But no matter what the gift or the passion God has called us to do and give - we are all called to love one another with brotherly love and in honor we prefer one another. Sometimes that looks like celebrating with those who have matters in their life to rejoice over. Sometimes that looks like sitting quietly next to someone who weeps and we sorrow with them. I have been blessed with some beautiful friends who use the simplest of their talents to make the biggest difference in others’ lives. One is very good at baking / cooking and gives the gift of her talents to show others that she cares. One is a very good communicator and sends the sweetest cards you ever wanted to receive in the mail. Either way - they always have a way of making other people’s day in simple and original ways.
It may be that God gave you the wisdom, will, and power to overcome some struggle in your life so you can show someone else how to. When someone needs hope, they don’t need someone to reach out to them who has attempted to hide from their imperfections. They need to know there is someone who has been in the trenches and has come out on the other side victorious - even if life wrote on them a little bit.
So, no matter how insecure you may feel about your ability to make a difference, I ask you to take God at His word. HE said that He has called you by name and He has created you for HIS glory! (Isaiah 43: 7). So you can take my word or you can take God’s word for it - but believe me when I tell you that God didn’t call you to be someone else. So don’t get lost in the frustration that your effectiveness may not LOOK as grandiose as someone else's. You don’t know that the ripple effects you create may be greater in the end than you ever imagined.
I can’t tell you what the plan of God is for your life. All I know is that God has given you all the tools you need to make a difference in His kingdom somewhere. And once you hone those and decide to use them for the betterment of humanity, the more fulfilled your life will be. So snuff out the smoke, put down the mirrors, take off the mask and be REAL. Be the person God has called YOU to be, and make a difference where you are. And just always know that the greatest gift you can give the world is you. Authentically YOU!