Read this aloud to yourself:
I’m special. In all the world there’s nobody like me. Since the beginning of time,
there has never been another person like me. Nobody has my smile. Nobody has
my eyes, my nose, my hair, my hands, my voice.
No one can be found who has my handwriting.
Nobody anywhere has my tastes for food or music or art.
No one sees things just as I do. In all of time there’s been no one
who laughs like me, no one who cries like me.
And what makes me laugh and cry will never provoke
identical laughter and tears from anybody else, ever.
No one reacts to any situation just as I would react.
I’m the only one in all Creation who has my set of abilities.
Oh, there will always be somebody who is better
at one of the things I’m good at, but no one in the universe can
reach the quality of my combination of talents, ideas, abilities
and excel in the same ways I do. None can match the symphony sound
when all those things are played together. I’m a symphony. Through all of eternity no one will ever look, talk, walk, think, or do like me.
I’m rare. And in all rarity there is great value.
Because of my great rare value, I need not attempt to imitate others.
I will accept–yes, I will celebrate my difference.
And I’m beginning to realize it’s no accident that I’m special.
I’m beginning to realize that God made me special for a very special purpose.
He must have a job for me that no one else can do as well as I.
Out of billions of applicants, only one is qualified,
only one has the right combination of what it takes.
That one is me–because. . .
Done? Great. Now, go back and really read it aloud to yourself. I’ll wait; I have a fresh pot of newly-ground medium-roast coffee with just a touch of fresh hazelnut grind for taste.
No-no-no—I’m serious. I know what you did. It’s the same thing I did the first time I began to read this. Oh, I started off with gusto: “… In all the world there’s nobody like me—” but things got real quiet inside and a frightened, nervous little boy could only whisper, “I’m . . . I’m SPECIAL?” Mm-hmm. And I had big tears in my eyes, just like you do, now. I’m not going any farther until you read this aloud to yourself. Okay, now–read. Aloud. To yourself.
How often will you need to reread I’M SPECIAL before you accept that it’s true?
Think about it. Motivational speakers and business pros seem so at ease up there in front of thousands. Huge smile. “YOU CAN DO IT!” All dash and sparkle and verve that makes one want to pitch a chair at ’em. But I know a few of them well enough to know it can take even these giants a few tries in their private moments to kickstart their self-worth, look in the mirror, and say, “I AM special.”
In 2 Thessalonians 1:11 Paul wrote that “God chose you. . .” Not the guy next to you. Not the brunette in the cubicle across the aisle. Not your ambitious boss gunning for the next promotion. Not your brother-in-law.
“But you don’t understand. . .” Yeah. I do. The first time I began reading this was right on the heels of one of the most grievous experiences in my life since almost dying. My good name, character, professional ethics, and future chances for pursuing the career I thought God had laid before me had all been trashed. It meant physically leaving our home, church, and many friends. It was a very dark time for me. It hurt a lot.
I did as Jesus did.
You and I are irreplaceably, totally unique as persons, like I’M SPECIAL says. Within the larger family of man, our experiences are amazingly common. They, like Love, really are in every language. The most common denominator on Earth is “the knowing look.”
Yup. We listen to each others’ stories, grin or grimace and nod. Been there and definitely done that.
God chose you. And when Jesus, being God, said not to judge He wasn’t just referring to others. He meant you aren’t even to judge you. Refresh your coffee and let’s perambulate around this, some.
“Let me finish. You don’t understand how rotten I feel about myself and my spiritual growth.” Sure I do. I’m intuitive, a natural introvert and a recovering perfectionist. That means I don’t just observe and evaluate others–I do it most of all to me. And that means I reserve my harshest judgmental attitudes for myself. It’s not easy being me.
Regardless of your personality, you’re usually the roughest on yourself. It’s a good thing you only have two fists and can’t reach your own face with your feet. It would give “jumping to contusions” an entirely new meaning.
Know what? The 12 guys Jesus spent all of his time with lacked faith most of the time, found fault with His actions, were quick to censure Him; they ran whenever faced with trouble, they betrayed Him, and swore as they denied ever knowing Him. And with all that, Jesus found them not only capable of carrying on His work, but poured His Spirit into and out through them. And, by association, that includes you.
Being honestly sorry is necessary, but God doesn’t want you crushed under the load of your own judgmental spirit toward yourself. Whatever holds you in the grip of your own disgust and abhorrence is the thing God only pointed out to help you grow beyond where you are and change for the better. He did not intend for you to destroy yourself and your ongoing effectiveness in the lives of those around you.
“But…” No, let this sink in. I really do have a grasp of where you might be. I had what I believed to be a close friendship of 10 years’ duration vaporize in the heat of misunderstanding and the willingness of yet others to carry tales. If there’s one thing above all others I inherited from my daddy, it’s the unwillingness to cut loose and abandon an old friend. Until God helped me learn how to let go of those individuals, you wouldn’t believe how hard I was on me. Feeding upon one’s self is an all-around bad idea.
You’re not the only one you make miserable.
Walt Whitman once wrote, “Dismiss what insults your soul.” I gave that some thought and I recommend you do it, too. Time eventually helps sort things and people out. I’ve been learning some things through this that may help you.
- Never waste your time trying to explain who you are to people who are committed to misunderstanding you. I know–hard to believe there are people you thought were your friends who intend to ‘bus’ you. It’s a tough thing to accept. Many a mistake could be set right if folks weren’t so unwilling to admit having made ’em. Love all you can, while realizing you present a threat to their status quo which they will protect at any cost. Be cordial, but let them go and move on. God has bigger things for you.
- People are unhappy and dissatisfied with their lives if they’re busy discussing yours. Those who easily talk to you about others just as easily talk to them about you. It’s the nature of a gossip. They may or may not be aware of the wreckage of persons and families, even careers they leave in their wake, but they do not change. No matter how friendly and helpful they seem, divulge anything to them at your peril. The coin of their realm is information and they’ll do anything to get it; even manufacture it. Whether it’s true or not rarely matters.
- Surround yourself with people who make you hungry for life, touch your heart and nourish your soul. You know who they are. They’re the ones who are still there when things are darkest around you. There aren’t as many of them, but they are your genuine friends. Cherish them.
God thinks you’re special, and He sees in you things you cannot see. He sees growth in spirit different than we do. What you see as a flaming, uncontrollable spin into the ground He may see as the beginning of some real growth, and preparation for you to do some worthwhile stuff in this life. You may feel so bruised, so wounded by what you think and what you see in yourself that you’ve about given up.
Well, sir–(my daddy used to say that a lot, regardless of the gender of the listeners)–that ain’t what God has in mind. If you’ll let Him gently lead you through whatever seems so scuzzy and useless and pointless to you, His unlimited love will grow some stuff in you. And He’ll grow it through you to others in ways you’d have never otherwise experienced.
I surrender little pieces of myself as I write to lift, encourage, edify and challenge you. It’s part of what makes each 2nd Cup unique. I’m by nature intensely private. It hasn’t been a simple thing to open up again after the deep wounds. But if I’m honest and transparent in following Jesus as I say I do, then I need to do as He did. I’ve not only made this a 2nd Cup trademark but work very hard to show and live it:
I love you, and I believe in you. Still.
And. You. Are. Special. Now, go back and reread it again, will you?
And this time, believe it.