What Will You Do With You?
“Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by those who delight in them.”(Psalm 111:2) I stop like a deer silent and still, when I consider the wonders of creation and especially the central creative theme of our individual uniqueness. This happened the other day when I walked into the fitness center and I met a new way to check in. There was a device into which you insert your finger. It registers your identification. Then each time you enter the building, you place your finger in the device and it recognizes your finger as being you. It detects the unique vein pattern of your finger. Not only are my finger prints unique so is the vein pattern of my fingers. In fact, all of my fingers and every finger in the world are different. I was curious so I googled the gadget. I found out that this was biometric identification, the science of identifying someone by physical qualities.
There are a number of physical biometric qualities that identify people from each other. There are the familiar fingerprints and DNA. There are vein patterns of the finger, and the vein pattern of the iris and retina. There is also hand and earlobe geometry that distinguishes us from other people and echoes our individuality.
The psalmist delighted in God’s work and sensed his own uniqueness when he said his flesh was made by God and his parts were woven together in his mother’s womb. (Psalm 139) The idea is we are uniquely woven like one would hand-weave a piece of fabric or a basket. To the finest detail we are one of a kind. Not only are we unique in miniscule physical ways, according the scripture we have gifts, talents, callings that are unique to us and for which we are responsible. (Matt. 25; I Cor. 12; Romans 12) We are all one-of a-kind individuals. We discover ourselves as we discover our uniqueness.
This brings me to a question: Why, I wonder, do we spend so much time and mental energy comparing ourselves to other people and then judging our worth on how we line up with their talents, gifting or callings; or maybe even their money, their body, their status, their position or their possessions? Why do we not seek out our own uniqueness, our own strengths, or our own contribution to the whole? Why do we offend ourselves by using other people as a gage for our worth and our significance? We do not do well when we compare ourselves to others and feel envious or guilty, insignificant or “less than” other people.
We are each different with a uniqueness that calls our name. We should teach our children this. When my boys were growing up, I tried to remind them not to envy their friends and not to compare themselves to other people. We often do this when we are trying to find ourselves and our significance. I wrote a poem to help guide them:
When you do your best
You don’t have to be like the rest
You just have to be the best you.
Don’t look to the left,
Don’t look to the right.
The people around are not you.
But look inside and then decide:
What will you do with you?
The question I tried to teach my boys was, “What will you do with you?” Unfortunately, even as an adult, I sometimes forget to address this question. I forget to take my own advice. Just recently I took a six week Bible Study course. The class used a workbook for individual study and group discussion. It also used teaching videos by three well known women: Priscilla Shirer, Beth Moore and Kay Arthur. It was in the videos where I started the “compare myself to someone else” syndrome.
First, it was Priscilla Shirer. I wished I could tell stories, quote scripture, and capture an audience like she could. I admired her humor, insight and ease of expression. Then, there was Beth Moore. I wished I had her expressive teaching passion, and her abandonment in praise and adoration of God, like David did when he danced before the Lord. I wished that I, like Beth, could be uproariously funny at the drop of a hat. Last, Kay Arthur spoke. Out of her experience and her deep study of the Word and her commanding presence, there flowed rivers of living water. I wished I could teach, nourish and refresh like Kay Arthur. Each lesson blessed me but in a dark corner of my mind, I began to feel puny and inept. All the sudden I realized I had fallen into the comparison trap. I was having a party in my own head.
I began to think. How often do we look at others and judge ourselves; judge ourselves to be less competent than other people? We look at those who are exercising their talents, gifts, or callings and say, “I wish I could express myself like that, or have what they have, or be like they are. We are sometimes like little children who sit under the Christmas tree and want the gifts other people are unwrapping—often before we even fully unwrap our own. I learned a lot in that Bible study but what I revisited is our own special uniqueness. We are called to untie the ribbon, pull off the paper, open the box and discover our own gifts. God creates and perfects our uniqueness as we hone our talents and cooperate with Him.
I finally stopped myself and let my Creator Lord speak to my heart. He told me to learn from gifted women but use my own gifts and create my own style. He said, “You were not made for what they are doing. I created your DNA to match your fingerprint, your vein pattern. I created you to reflect your voice. I created you to do your part, play your role, tell your story, and hone your gifting. It is your uniqueness that I need.”
I concluded once again what I need to remember: Don’t envy your neighbor when you are trying to find yourself. Don’t compare yourself to others. Benefit from the knowledge and experience of others. Drink from their gifts and talents as a thirsty person would drink from a welcome source of water. But in the end return to your own deep cistern of uniqueness and, “Look inside, and then decide, what will you do with you?”
Margaret Harrell Wills