Thursday, May 13, 2010


"ou are so-- unusual," she articulated in her lilting Middle-eastern accent. I love the precision that comes when one does not have a grasp of the colloquial terms, such as "weird" or "crazy." Because 'unusual' is precisely what she meant. And I received the word gladly.

As Christians we have a relationship with the word 'unusual'. Or, we ought to. We are told that we are to be unlike the world, and in this way will be viewed as strange or foolish. As citizens of the 21st century we have an alternate relationship with the word 'unusual' as uniqueness is lauded as an end in itself: comfortable self-identity and self-esteem carved out by expressing every inner whim loudly and relishing the quirkiness of ones own personality without making any excuses for it.

I walk the razor's edge of this two-faceted relationship. The woman who called me 'unusual' went on to say that she was inspired by my willingness to grasp life as fully as I can despite the challenges of a large family. I know that this willingness is fundamentally born from my relationship to God. He has given us this one life. He has filled it with beauty and blessing. I have always felt that fear and worry have no place here, but rather passion for the world He has given and the people in it. This is a God-given 'unusual'.

However, I am also very aware of a deep-rooted pride in being the individual that I am. Comfortable with who I am? Not necessarily. That depends on the day. Pleased to stand out as a unique individual? Yes. Very. Our society is made up of nearly autonomous little gods who celebrate themselves--going to great lengths to turn heads. This desire is as old as time itself. Didn't Lucifer fall from heaven in an obsessive desire to be the One? To be God himself? The twinge of satisfaction I feel when I am identified as 'unusual' is not pure, but tainted with pride.

The challenge is to accept that God sees each one of us as uniquely precious. In this way He intimately encourages us in our gifts and guides us away from sin. But an over-enthusiasm in ourselves will only lead to self-idolatry and inhibit the selfless love we are meant to give to everyone around us.

Be unusual. Just don't love it too much.