8.24.2006

On being ODD and other bits of joy

I had brunch with Marita Gladson today. She is wonderful. (And she is not odd -- my title for this post is about me, not her!)

She is 72, and is the child of Assemblies of God missionaries to Ghana, and just returned from another 2-week trip to Ghana by herself. She is a remarkable woman whom God brought into my life in direct response to my prayers 6 years ago, and who is still in my life as a friend that I enjoy very much.

She has a website for Saboba's Hope, which is actively supporting the medical center and community in Saboba, Ghana with donations and volunteers. It has been amazing to see what God has already done through Saboba's Hope and through Marita, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds there, too! Take a look at the website and pray for them, please!

One of the things we talked about was how much people try to make us all into cookie-cutter people, with us all moving toward an ideal of perfect health and balance, when God had a purpose in making so many different "characters" with their different strengths and weaknesses. (Marita, the book I referred to was Now, Discover Your Strengths, where the authors talk about how success is based on running with the natural strengths that we and the people around us possess, rather than having everyone focus on "fixing" their weaknesses.)

And I drove on to my next commitment thinking about what I wrote yesterday -- how blessed I am to have the people in my life that are in my life at this point and in the past -- because Marita is one of those amazing people. So is my mom, who coordinated a missions conference and vacation Bible school all last week at her church in lake country in Minnesota, and just keeps being herself and growing in Jesus, even at the old-old age of 67. (Mom, I don't think you're old. But I am impressed with what you take on and manage to pull off!)

I love the doctrine of the image of God in each person, and think we need to let ourselves see it in each of the people in our lives. For me, though, to see the image of God in others, I've had to accept that I bear His image in unique ways too, and that that means I will be odd, but that's okay.

He didn't mean me to be like you, or like any of the other people I admire. He meant me to be me. He's okay with the ways that I "don't measure up", when not measuring up means just that I am not strong in every possible talent and character trait. But He's not okay with me neglecting the ways He has gifted me in order for me to indulge my narcissism and try to appear to "have it all together" or "be normal" or even just to work really really hard on "fitting in."

So I can focus on getting to know Him and then doing the things He gives me to do and being the person He leads me to be, and find that my focus gets to change, and that I get to just enjoy the show. I get to be amazed at who He is, and be filled with joy as I watch and as I let Him love me. I get to be amazed at the things He uses me to do, knowing that He did them, because I've had a life getting to see what I manage to accomplish on my own. I get to be amazed at what He is doing through other people, and at who He is turning them into.

So I guess the real joy is not in being ODD. The real joy is in having so much joy in Jesus and in the people around me that I am okay with being ODD. No, not just okay -- I am grateful to be whoever and whatever Jesus wants me to be, because I have seen the beauty in everything He does and everyone He creates, and so I understand the beauty in myself, not in spite of how ODD I may be, but even because of it.

And then I can also marvel at the beauty in you as He creates you, and not feel like I'd be fixing anything by "fixing" you where you are odd. I would be like a little kid taking the great painter's brush and ruining the masterpiece that He's creating.

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