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.
Great post, Emily…except that, facing more and more of the 'terminal' in terminal illness, I've lost the 'feeling' of what's uniquely me.
It seems that more than anything I've been a mirror. Of the Almighty, I hope, but likely more often of those in whose company I have worked.
Maybe it was the right thing, and what they needed, but at this 'end of the diving board' time of life, I'm not entirely sure who I am.
Not entirely? Not even vaguely.
What a great story about the toy dog. Aren’t we like that? And it’s so easy to see from the story how that’s not a good idea. But in real life, it’s not so easy sometimes. Thanks for your words, Emily, and for encouraging us to embrace our uniqueness.
Wonderful story. It is interesting to look back and see how insecurity rooted itself from when we were young. I can see it in myself. Thank you for the beautiful reminder to embrace our uniqueness for God knew exactly what He was doing in creating us exactly as we are. Blessings!
So true that 'copycat' behaviour steals the uniqueness that others get to experience from us! I know I am much more enriched by seeing what others preferences are than if they had the same ones as me.
It is fun to see what others pick, isn't it? Keeping that in mind is a good way to remember how important it is to not copy 🙂
Insecurity can start early! For me, it's helpful to be able to look back, see it for a little more of what it was, and be able to recognize ways I might still tend toward the same behavior. God certainly did know what he was doing when we crafted each of us, and it's a shame whenever we trade that!
Yeah, it is easier to recognize in hindsight–especially with the benefit of about 25 years in the middle. My prayer is that as God works on each of us, we'll get better and better at embracing who he made us to be!
I cannot imagine what it would be like to be in your place. You bring up one way mirroring is good–when we mirror Jesus to others. Though I don't know you, I do know that you have a unique personality created by God and though difficult circumstances have taken their toll, you are 100% recognizable to and cherished by your Creator. Praying that he encourages you today.
Your story about wanting the same toy as your sister really hit home with me. Even though I have brothers, I realized that I chose what they chose because I wanted to feel wanted and when all you have are brothers that's what you do.
This collaboration has been a journey of learning who I am as well as getting to know you and Jeanne better. It has been a deepening of my relationship with God because in Him I am everything. And I agree that even though we have put a period on the end of this series, in reality it is a topic that will be revisited over and over again.
Thank you for this encouraging reminder, Emily. It causes me to reflect, too, on how I want to be like others, not just how I want what others have. That's also stealing the beauty of my uniqueness created by God. Thank you for this series. Blessings and hugs to you!
I've fallen prey to that group mentality before – sometimes it feels easier to go with the flow rather than try to explain why we are different. Age and experience have taught me that who I am is more than enough and that different is okay – beautiful even. I want to choose well and wisely, but I want to choose me. Great post, Emily. Popping over from Jeanne's today. 🙂
You mentioned having to explain our differences, and that's a good point. If I can silently be different, it's much easier, but that's not always possible, and it's important to stand up for who we need to be. Thanks so much for visiting!
Yes, you're right! This goes well beyond belongings and material things to personality and other areas of our lives. Thanks for reading along through the series!
I've really enjoyed this series with you and Jeanne! Thanks for bringing such insight to the table!
Wonderful post, Emily! I've been there, looking at the amazing gift the other person has while completely missing the amazing gift God has for me. I'm praying we all stay out of the copycat trap, and find security in our identity in Him. He knows what is best.
Thanks, Kelly! I like the way you put that, that we miss our own amazing gifts when we're longing for other people's gifts. Are other people's gifts amazing? Sure, but so are those we've received because every gift from God is good and perfect. 🙂
How amazing how many of us have shared the same insecurities…so thankful that I have a patient God who continued to draw me into Himself where I began to truly believe His Truth about my wonderfully unique qualities and how I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I hope that I can encourage those younger than myself to follow their own God ordained path and find their identity in Him.
Me too! Me too! 🙂
Emily, this is a wonderful wrap up to a great series. I so enjoyed doing this with you and Mary. Truly an honor to get to know each of you better. And as for, "I'll have what she (he) is having…"? I'll never look at that response the same way again. 🙂
We really do need to be encouraging the younger generations in this because, like you said, so many of us have shared the same insecurities. Love that you have a heart for doing just that!
Yes! What an honor it's been to team up with you two and get to know you better! Thanks for all the wisdom you shared in this series!