A few years ago, I helped lead a college mission trip to Guatemala through my church. We partnered with Habitat for Humanity, and spent a week working on building two houses. Over the course of the trip, one of the things I felt God leading me to do was to recognize and appreciate the unique personalities of all the college students on the trip.
Some students were outgoing, whereas others were quiet.
Some students really loved the physical labor aspect of the week, whereas others came alive in the social times.
During devotions, some students asked probing intellectual questions, whereas others had a deep appreciation for faith and mystery.
Differences are Good
As I noticed all the college students and their unique differences, I felt like God was telling me this was a good thing. He designed the variability. And I should explore and encourage these differences.
You see, I often struggle with this in my own life. I might get frustrated with some aspect of my personality, and wish I were different. Or I might judge myself because I don’t fit a certain mold or idea I have in my head about how a person should be.
But the truth is, we are all different.
Some people are introverts, and other people are extroverts. Some people are conscientious, and other people are more relaxed. Some people like a consistent structure, and other people are more open to new experiences.
And that’s all okay.
At the end of the week, we had an award ceremony. The team leaders and I got together, and we brainstormed awards for each of the college students on the trip. We thought about what stood out to us about each student, and crafted an award to match that part of the student.
One student got an award for being the most hardworking. Another student received an award for being the most encouraging. A third student got an award for having the most inquisitive questions during devotional time. And so it went.
As I was thinking about this idea during the week, I received something cool for myself as well. I started to feel more love and compassion for myself, even for the rougher parts of my personality. I felt more comfortable being the unique person I am. As someone who has struggled with that for much of my life, it was a gift.
Appreciate the Uniqueness of “You”
My encouragement for you today is put aside your preconceived notions about what is cool and try to appreciate the unique individuality of yourself and others. You have a specific set of genes and life experiences that have led you to the point where you are today. The specific combination that is “you” is special, and I believe you have a unique place and contribution to make in this world. Instead of trying to change yourself and others to meet some arbitrary standard, what if you more deeply engaged with your true self? You might be surprised at what you find.
Do you struggle to accept all parts of yourself, especially the parts that are different? What is one step you could make today toward celebrating the uniqueness of yourself and others?