Thursday, November 19, 2015

Calling Cards

“Fear not, for you will not be put to shame; and do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced…” Isaiah 54:4

Clear Lake, CA

I have been watching the reality series THE VOICE for the last few seasons.  Each contestant is encouraged to show the real them, let their personality shine through – quirky, bold, or weird as it maybe.  They are urged to express emotion, show their hearts during their performances and be “real” so the audience is let in and sees who they really are. Sometimes the contestants don’t really even know who they are - they have conformed to the mold for so long - but with the coaches encouragement they try new things, experiment, find their groove, their pocket, their “thing”. You can see how happy it makes them – they start to sparkle, shine and radiate. They found the true them and are excited to share it. 

Somehow standing apart, being “special”, “unique”, “distinct” are not characteristics to be sought after or pursued. We are taught from a young age to blend in, to hide what separates, and to dress, act, and have the same opinions as the masses. If you don’t, you quickly learn about peer pressure, teasing, mocking, bullying, and ostracism.  The world has its mold, each culture with its rendition and premier prototype of what is “right and acceptable” and, unfortunately, most of us do not fit.  We want to be known - deeply, intimately, fully - and accepted, celebrated even, for all our good qualities, foibles, idiosyncrasies and oddities. But time, and experience, has taught us to hide, put up a mask, and present a charade of who we really are; causing us to live performance oriented lives vs. authentic ones.  It is a sad but real truth.

In third grade my teacher asked a question and gave two possible answers; she then had us raise our hands for what we felt was the correct response.  For the first alternative, everyone, but me, responded.  I remember sitting there feeling hot, sweaty and uncomfortable – my tummy slightly upset. She called out the second answer and I, all alone, raised my hand.  She then put me on the spot to defend my response (more sweat, more tummy clenching).  I can’t remember what I said, but do remember relief flooding my system when the teacher verified my answer as correct and praised me for sticking to my belief vs following what everyone else had decided was correct. It was a defining moment for me.

Defining but not definitive. I still vacillate. I still weigh the cost of not following, joining, going with the flow, the crowd, the consensus. I choose to pay the price of standing apart on several issues but, on others I could care less and am grouped among the masses. I am not a crusader, an activist or campaigner by any margin – but, I do have my opinions and they are well formed, thought out and backed by research.

God made each of us unique, distinct from one another and irreplaceable in his system.  Each of us house gifts, talents, and abilities in combination that no other ever had before us or will have after us.  They are our calling cards, our shiny bits, our special attributes. They aren’t meant to be hidden, cloaked and disguised because the world doesn’t tout them. They are meant to be celebrated, honored and USED. We, as Christians, are meant to stand out in a crowd, to have attention drawn to us – for HIS glory, not our own. 

What is your “shiny bit”? What sets you apart from the crowd, the masses? What makes you special? Your stance on an issue? A gift? A talent? An ability? What are you doing with your “calling card” is it stashed in a drawer or out on the desk where everyone can see and acknowledge it?
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