(from Proverbs 31 ministries devotional by Christa Parish)
"But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body." 1 Corinthians 12:18-20 (NIV)
When I was twenty, my boyfriend said to me, "Christa, you're just not feminine enough," and he ended our relationship. I was devastated, not only because I loved him, but because I had been bombarded with the not enough message for the past three years, since I had become a Christian.
Those at the church I attended, while deeply committed to following God, had definite ideas about what a "good Christian woman" looked liked. I wasn't it. So I strove to throw off the "old" me. I read the right books and listened to t he right speakers, and followed carefully constructed do and don't lists. And finally I gained acceptance in the church, but had completely lost myself - any shred of individuality.
I was just another eye (1 Corinthians 12:17) in a crowd of eyes.
For all the proper clothes and activities and friends, I found myself heavy with shame because there were still huge pieces inside of me that wouldn't squish into the "good Christian" mold held out for me. I prayed to be more like this woman or that woman, until one day I realized the only person I should be praying to be like was Jesus. Once I turned my sight to Christ, I began to see how my differences could be of value to Him. The more I became like Him, the more I became the person He made me to be.
My husband continually tells me, usually in response to some quirky idea I have, "I always want you to be who you are," and I hear the Lord's voice in those words. God is glorified through His people, and trying to shake off the personality with which He created us is dishonoring to Him. Each of our unique talents, idiosyncrasies, and abilities can and should be used for Him, and I've learned over and over again God will put us in situations that require just the skills and personality traits He has given us.
In my most recent novel, Watch Over Me, the main characters feel as if they are on the "fringe" of the church body, unable to fit in. For Abbi, it's because of her personal convictions; for Benjamin, it's because of the pain he's carrying around inside him; and for Matthew, it's a physical disability. But all three of them come to realize they are all necessary parts of the body of Christ. They – we – are the eyes and ears and feet and noses. Each of us fills a role in Christ's church, and in the lives of those around us, placed there by God to serve and love one another in our differences.
Dear Lord, You have created each of us in Your image, and also uniquely us. Help us to embrace who You made us to be, to see clearly the strengths You've given us, and rejoice in them. Use our individual weaknesses to turn us to You each and every day, giving us reason to cling to Your promises. Allow us opportunities to use our talents for Your glory and the good of the people around us, both those who are part of Your body and those who do not yet know You. Let our uniqueness be a light for You in the darkness. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reach out to someone in your church who may feel like she's on the "fringe" of things and doesn't fit in with the othe r women. Take time to encourage her uniqueness in Christ.
Take a few minutes to think about the talents God has given you. If there are some you aren't using now, ask yourself why that is. Go to the Lord in prayer and see if He reveals a way for you to serve Him with these abilities.
Do you suppress certain parts of yourself because you're worried about what other people may think? How can you overcome this "fear of man" that can prevent you from being all God made you to be?
Have you ever wished you could be more like another woman you know, because she seems more Godly? In what ways can you focus more on becoming "Christ-like" rather than "other-like"?
Ephesians 2:10, "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (NIV)
1 Corinthians 12:4-6, "There are different kinds of gifts, but the s ame Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men." (NIV)
Jeremiah 1:5a, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart." (NIV)