A young mother recently asked me a question that has been bothering her: “Am I special?” She qualified her question by letting me know that she has heard that everyone is special, but if everyone is special then is anyone really special?
I understood her question well because it is one I have battled with myself over the years. If I am special in some way, then the things that happen to everyone else shouldn’t happen to me. My destiny should be greater than that of those around me. Even being a Christian can be used as an excuse to think that we are somehow special and excused from the things that “regular” people go through. Don’t the Psalms state repeatedly that God gives rewards to those who walk in His ways? If I walk in God’s ways, then I am special and should expect to be treated as such.
But the truth is that even Christians, sometimes especially Christians, struggle and have difficulties in life. We are not always spared from injury, illness, poverty, and slander. All Christians don’t live in mansions, dress in the finest clothes, and sing hymns all day long while we read the Bible and pray together. We are regular people who understand that our source is God and anything good that happens in life is a gift from God.
I looked up the word “special” in the dictionary and found this definition – distinguished from what is ordinary or usual. What distinguishes me from the ordinary or usual? I am a human being just like everyone else. I was born, I am living my life, and I will die – just like everyone else. In that case, the only truly “special” people in the world are those who somehow defy those circumstances: Enoch, who did not die but was taken up into heaven by God, also Elijah; and Jesus, who was born to a virgin and raised from the dead. So unless I can find a way to get taken up to heaven by God through a means other than death, I’m regular, not special.
So what should I strive for in life? I thought I was special, the handiwork of God, created for a unique purpose and called by Him to make a difference in the world. The answer to all of that is – yes, I am the handiwork of God (just like everyone else), I am created for a unique purpose (just like everyone else), and I am called by Him to make a difference in the world (just like everyone else).
Every single person has something about them that is unique (existing as the only one or sole example) and if they embrace it, will make them stand out in the crowd and cause the awe of God to fall on those around them who see the glory of what God has made. The thing is, we don’t embrace our uniqueness very often. We try to hide it because we don’t want to be different from the crowd. We want to fit in! We’re afraid others won’t like our uniqueness or might reject us. Yet we admire those who try new things and effectively harness their creativity into things that we cannot imagine.
The second piece to that puzzle is that we all have a calling from God to make a difference in the world. Once we discover what makes us unique, we have to ask God how that thing should be used for His glory.
I used to be afraid to fully surrender myself to God and be made into His image because I thought I’d lose my own identity. I was afraid I’d become some sort of Christian robot. What I have found in my surrender (more fully every day) is that instead of making me like everyone else, God calls me to do things that are totally unique. God knows better than me what talents are hidden in me and He calls them forward and puts them to use for His glory. Then I begin to see myself through His eyes and the work that I do becomes fulfilling and effective. The closer I draw to God, the more He pulls forward those unique talents, and the more fulfilled and blessed I become. I begin to sparkle and people notice. I find such joy in realizing that the more I fully surrender myself to God, the more He makes me into His image, and the more unique I become.
So I told the woman that she isn’t special. She is a regular human being with flaws and problems, working to get closer to God. However, the more fully we know God, the more we become like Him and the more our uniqueness shines through. She and I are working together to grow in our relationship with the Lord. As we grow closer to Him, the fears and cares of this life become less and less important and pleasing God grows in our estimation of success. And pleasing God is what allows Him to take our unique talents, gifts, personality, and experience to make us into a unique and beautiful instrument for His glory.