Most of us have had an occasion in which we were publicly ridiculed for being different in some way. The feeling of embarrassment, humiliation, and shame that resulted taught us to avoid being different at all costs. Our need for acceptance and approval may have even sacrificed our uniqueness to the point that we are now unable to fully express ourselves creatively.
Our true identity is expressed in our differences, not our conformity.
When we are willing to allow ourselves to be different it is a sign that we are OK with how God made us, and have embraced our uniqueness as a benefit to the world around us. It is only then that we can truly express ourselves in creative ways that can make a difference.
Our Destiny Is Discovered In Our Differences
God makes all of us different on purpose, and it is in our uniqueness that we find our God-given destiny.
Too many of us have sacrificed our true identity in order to fit in with what is culturally acceptable. Compromising our uniqueness for social acceptance only diminishes our dreams to the lowest common denominator.
If we never discover the beauty and wonder of the way God created us, we will live out someone else’s dreams.
I loved the recent movie, “The Greatest Showmen”, an original musical about P.T. Barnum, starring Hugh Jackman. The movie grossed an astonishing 113 million dollars in the first five weekends alone, making it one of the most successful on screen musicals in history. The song, “This Is Me” from the soundtrack has had over one billion downloads.
I think one of the reasons for the movie’s success lies in the reality that, secretly, most people have felt like misfits wanting to belong in some way. When they see other people having the courage to be different they feel empowered to accept and express their own differences.
People leave the movie believing that it’s OK to be different.
The lyrics of the song “This Is Me” depict the struggle to be different in our culture:
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me.
Look out ‘cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me.”
I wonder how much we have lost of our uniqueness by trying to conform to other’s expectations and standards.
Have we lost ourselves? Have we lost our purpose? Have we lost our voice because of our fear to be different?
It’s time to celebrate our differences, dare to dream, and express our destiny through our unique creative gifts and talents.
Embracing Our Differences Releases Our Imagination To Be Different
We all have been given a compass called our imagination that leads us into a world that we alone can discover. God invites us to discover who we are in the room of our imagination.
Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is everything, it is the preview to life’s coming attractions.”
Everything we enjoy in life is because someone imagined it.
We enjoy TV, cell phones, cars, planes, electricity, and running water because someone dreamed of something different, and then took risk to make it a reality.
Your real purpose in life will be found in your imagination — in the secret place where you talk to God, and He shares His secrets with you.
This is the place where Moses met with God, and where Joseph learned to interpret dreams and steward resources in Egypt that eventually saved his people, the Israelites.
Here are 4 ways to develop your imagination that will help you cultivate your differences to make a difference.
- Dream: I encourage you to ask God to unlock your imagination and to dream without the borders that define what others have done or believe is acceptable. Let yourself believe that anything is possible, and that you have a unique purpose on the earth to express the goodness and glory of God through your life.
- Build: Our imagination leads us to develop plans that can support our vision. One of the most crucial elements in this process is to begin building up our thoughts and actions to support our dreams. This is where faith “the substance of things hoped for” comes to into play. As in the Greatest Showman, we must continue to dream despite setbacks, as we continually take risks to put our dreams into action.
- Persist: We forget that the only thing that separates those who become great is that they never gave up.
For instance, Winston Churchill repeated a grade during elementary school, failed the entrance exam to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, and was defeated in his first effort to serve in Parliament. At the age of 62, he became Prime Minister of England and wrote,
Never give in, never, never, never — in nothing great or small, large or petty — never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense — never, never, never, never, give up.
Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” He was fired from his first two jobs for being “non-productive.” As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
P.T. Barnum had many opportunities to give up and quit, but it was his belief in his dream that fueled his willingness to rise up out of the ashes of defeat and pursue his destiny to make the world a better place.
- Find Support: The only way we will ever step outside the confines of what others have done, and step into the path we alone can forge, is through encouragement.
We must have people around who encourage us on our path even when it seems so hard and insurmountable.
By the end of the Greatest Showman, P.T. Barnum finds encouragement to pursue his dreams when he is reconciled with his wife and family, and reconnects with his performers, who have become his community.
It is only in the context of community that we can truly live out our differences, and fulfill our dreams.
We Are Made To Be Different To Make A Difference
When I look back on my life, I have had the privilege of seeing children, youth, and adults all over the world begin the journey of trusting in God’s unique design for their life, and express their uniqueness through their creativity.
Many of these people have started businesses, written books, made films, and accomplished amazing feats, as they ignited their imagination in God’s presence, and took risk to be different.
As we take courage in the way God made us, we will find that the world has been waiting to see the “real us”. When we are willing to be express our uniqueness, it will give others courage to do the same, and it won’t be long until our differences will make a difference, and make the world in which we life a better place — Heaven on earth.
Let’s stand up together and say, “This is me”, making no apology that we are different.
I want to encourage you to find something different about you each day for the next 7 days to celebrate. Then, find something you can celebrate in someone else, and tell them, so that they can be encouraged to be different to make a difference.
Remember, you are born to create!