The importance of being you

I have a horrible habit of comparing myself to others. I look at other people and not only wish I had what they had, but wish that I could be more like them. I know that it’s a bad thing to do and yet it’s really hard not to fall in that trap. I grew up always being compared to others and told that I had to be better than everyone. In one fell swoop, I both have inferiority and superiority complex foisted upon me. Thankfully, God has intervened in my life and has made numerous attempts to get me off that horrible track of comparison. He tells me that He loves me “just the way I am”. And yes, when He says that, Bruno Mars is the accompanying soundtrack in my mind. =)

The problem is that this message isn’t being sent by a lot of people in our society. Funny that in such an individualistic society that we live in here in North America, we can sometimes collectively tell other people that their individuality is something to be looked down upon, instead of being celebrated. Somehow, their inherent value as an individual is not appreciated, tolerated, nor condoned. And this can have drastic results. Some people go through their whole entire lives thinking that they are not loved, that they are a mistake, that no one cares for them, that they are not wanted, that there is no reason for their being here on planet Earth. That is a very lonely and isolated place to be. There are no words to describe the feeling that your very existence is an affront to others. Painful doesn’t even come close.

I read the story of the life and tragic death of Amanda Todd. She posted a video that explained a little bit of what she went through. It is a haunting tale of how our actions can have terrible consequences. It sickens me to think that there are people in this world who have no qualms telling another person “I wish you were dead.” It sickens me to my very being that there are people in this world who intentionally inflict harm on others for no other reason than because that’s what gives them joy in their life. It is a sad reflection of the broken, fallen world we live in.

This girl went through a lot of bullying. And the hardest thing to face in life is when the lies that other people tell you start to become the truth that you live out. The lies of “you’re not worthy of love and respect” and “the world would be a better place if you were dead” are exactly just that… LIES. Sometimes though, given the circumstances, those lies that you fight for so long can be accepted as the truth that must be lived out. Personally, I am thankful that God has placed people in my life to reassure me and remind me that those are the type of lies that I have allowed to enter into my life and that they are NOT true. They remind me that I have worth. They remind me that my presence is welcomed and appreciated. They remind me that my absence is missed and felt.

To those who read this, I want you to know that you are not a mistake. I want you to know that you are loved. I want you to know that your uniqueness is what this world exactly needs. I want you to know that the world will be a better place because you are in it and chose to live in it and not escape from it. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are the apple of God’s eye and He is extremely in love with you.

You are able to change the world in such a way that only you can. Don’t be afraid to be you. Because you know what, we need you. We need you to be you… and not somebody else.

You are loved.

The importance of community

I think we live in a world where it’s so easy to feel alone and isolated. I have talked to so many friends who pretty much said this very thing. When they’re going through a really tough situation, or encounter personal problems, they feel like they can’t tell anybody about it. Not only that, but they feel like they’re the only ones who ever felt that way. Because they feel so uniquely special in that regard, they don’t reach out to others out of fear that what they’re going through is something alien to other human beings. To admit their problem is to admit their weirdness or their other-ness. “Normal people don’t feel like this,” is probably the thought that they tell themselves.

This is the farthest thing from reality. The reality is that people go through tough times. People can get angry. People can feel jealousy. People can be lonely. In fact, these are the very things that remind us of our shared humanity. Our very brokenness may be the very link that binds us to one another as human beings.

While I was doing a research on the topic of Sabbath for one of my papers, I came across an article where the author (who was a non-practicing Jew) decided to try the whole Sabbath thing. She mentioned that it was easier to not work on Sabbath when she was surrounded by others who also didn’t work on the Sabbath. By surrounding ourselves with like-minded and like-hearted people, difficult things can become slightly easier. The problem still remains, except now, you have a support system that you can lean on when the problem occurs.

And that’s what is so great about community. It allows people not only to be themselves, but find themselves. When we are surrounded by a group of people who can act as our buffer against the vitriolic waves of life, it allows us to be stronger and better than if we try to face it on our own. Sometimes, we have to find –  and sometimes we have to create – that community. I found a great online Twitter community in #usguys. I’m constantly amazed at how people in this online community show such trust, authenticity and care. Personally, I try to surround myself with a select group of like-minded and like-hearted friends who I can go to in times of need. Because of these people, I am better, stronger, and wiser.

An old proverb once said “it takes a village to raise a child.” Likewise, it takes a village to raise an adult.

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