My aunt and uncle took us into the toy store in the mall and made an amazing promise: my sister and I could each pick one item—ANY item in the store—and they would get it for us.
Talk about eight-year-old heaven. Looking back as an adult, I wonder how big of a risk my aunt and uncle took that day. What was the most expensive toy in the store? How big was it?
Well, my sister and I took stock of the inventory, and my sister made her choice: a mechanical dog about ten inches tall with soft white fur. It walked on a leash, barked, and did back flips.
When I declared that I wanted the same thing, my aunt tried to gently talk me out of it. Wouldn’t I prefer a horse? Because, after all, I loved everything to do with horses. I read books about them, collected Breyer horses, drew them, used them in imaginary play. Everything was about horses.
But I passed up all the pretty horses in that store to get what my sister was getting.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t something as cute as trying to be like my older sister. I’m the older one. The one who should have a mind of her own.
But this wasn’t the first time (or last, unfortunately) I’d wanted something just because someone else was getting it.
And then once I had it? We played with our dogs some. But then the novelty wore off, and I returned to my horse obsession. Who knows? Maybe any toy would’ve been forgotten pretty quickly. In fact, maybe it would’ve been less memorable if my sister and I didn’t both have barking, flipping dogs with which to annoy the household.
Yet I look back and suspect my choice was rooted in insecurity, a problem which, in some ways, has grown with me into adulthood.
Recently faced with a decision where there was no one else who could make the choice for me and no moral right or wrong, I went round and round with what I should do. Insecurity told me I couldn’t trust my own judgement, just like I felt like I couldn’t trust it that day in the store with my aunt and uncle.
It tells me all kinds of other things, too: if someone else wants something, I should want it to; what I have isn’t enough, and I should to surrender my tastes to envy of others; what I have is okayish, but what others have is amazing.
Insecurity doesn’t value my own preferences enough to honor them. Insecurity would prefer I spend my life mirroring others.
This propensity to follow the crowd is most obviously a problem if we choose to give in to sin because we see others getting away with it. And, there is the issue of envy that naturally grows from this kind of insecurity.
But copycat behavior can also steal something more subtle than that: the beautiful gift of our uniqueness.
Giving that up goes against our faith. We’ve been fearfully and wonderfully made by our Creator, so in the areas that aren’t a matter of right and wrong, we honor God by expressing our one-of-a-kind personality in the option we take.
Where insecurity says we must envy and copy others, faith says God has a wonderful, unique plan for each life. Our individual personality and tastes and opinions further that plan.
So put down the toy dog and back away. Choose something uniquely you.
And that’s a wrap! Thank you for joining Jeanne Takenaka, Mary Geisen, and I on this journey toward a sense of identity rooted in the only safe place: Jesus. The Chosen and Approved series is officially over… Or is it? Really, I think I speak for all three of us when I said the issue of healthy identity and the beautiful gift of being chosen by God is one that is close to each of our hearts, and that means it is a theme that naturally shows up on our blogs from time to time. (Personally, I have one more two-part post I plan to do on the topic later this month.) So, if you’ve enjoyed the series, consider subscribing to stay tuned for future posts.
I hope this series has been an encouragement to you and has met you where you’re at in the ongoing challenge of keeping our sense of worth and love untangled from all the lies the world dangles in front of us! If you missed a post, catch up here.