by Terri Gillespie @TerriGMavens
“. . . so that there may be no division in the body, but so that the parts may have the same care for one another. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer together. If one part is honored, all the parts rejoice together. Now you are the body of Messiah, and members individually.” 1 Corinthians 12:25-27, TLV
My friend twirled in her long gauzy skirt. Her curly hair extended like dreadlocks. Arms outstretched toward the heavens, she giggled, then shouted, “I love You, Jesus!” All this in a crowded church parking lot.
People stared. Some shook their heads. I was embarrassed for her. I think I said something clever to the onlookers, attempting to distract their focus from her.
Thinking about that moment today makes me cringe. Not because I’m still uncomfortable thinking about my friend “making a fool” of herself. I cringe because I am ashamed that I even thought that way.
We live in a confusing world. There are cries for diversity, and cries by those who long for unity. But what if they’re not mutually exclusive?
For most of my life I longed to be accepted. I believed if I mimicked others—abided in the status quo—people would see that I was like them. And, well, they would like me. If they liked me, I therefore reasoned, God would like me.
The thing is, I’m not like everyone else. My friend is not. You’re not. And that’s a good thing.
Finding our unique identity as children of the Creator of the Universe and followers of His Son, Jesus, is our lifelong struggle—or perhaps it’s better to say, goal. Our Heavenly Father created us to be distinctive, and His Son prayed that we would be one as He and His Father were One (John 17:6-23).
I struggled with this. At first, I wanted everyone to be like me. Which is what I did to my creative friend. When that didn’t work, I tried to be like people I thought God liked best.
This went on for years until one day a woman walked into our congregation’s bookstore. Within a few minutes of meeting me she pronounced, “You need to be writing.” I instantly broke into tears. She had no idea that thirty years before she set foot in that little store, I had given up writing. I had laid that part of me in a grave and buried it alive—not realizing it was a gift God had given me.
As she spoke those words, that gift awoke.
Since that time, I have gradually learned how to appreciate others’ God-inspired uniqueness.
What if the piercings, skin color, tattoos, style of music, and other uncomfortable differences are all part of who He created others to be? What if the reason we’re embarrassed by our brothers and sisters’ uniqueness is because we haven’t embraced our own?
The unity Jesus prayed for wasn’t about being the same. We don’t want a nose to be the same as an ear, right? What if trying to make others more like us, we cripple the Body of Messiah?
We are designed to be joined together—but we’re not designed to be the same. If we struggle with being critical of others who are different, we need to seek our Father. There may be a gift He has for us that we have buried or not revealed. A gift made for us.
Division makes us weak. Conformity will limit us. But holy diversity means we each do what God calls us to and rejoice with anyone fulfilling their God-given destiny.
So, twirl, my friends. Twirl all you want.
About the author: Award-winning author and beloved speaker, Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus.
Making Eye Contact with God is a women’s devotional that will enable you to really see God in a new and fresh way. Using real life anecdotes, combined with Scripture, author Terri Gillespie reveals God’s heart for women everywhere, as she softly speaks of the ways in which women see Him.
Join the conversation: Have you embraced what makes you unique?