Thursday, June 19, 2014

One of These Things is Not Like the Others

“One of these things is not like the others. One of these things doesn’t belong. Can you tell which thing is not like the others by the time we finish our song.”




As a child, this familiar song from Sesame Street signaled it was time to shout out the item that didn’t belong before the correct choice was declared. One thing was different. Usually the variance was slight but there was always one object that was unique; set apart.

I’ve always looked at being different as being good. It never bothered me to be unique. Honestly, I’ve embraced it. My very name allowed me to be set apart. Most people don’t know more than one “Tristi”. It’s always made me feel pretty good that I defined the meaning of my name by the way I lived. (Unless you look up similarities in different languages… than my name could be defined by sadness… Spanish/Italian.)

We tend to eliminate name choices for our children because we once knew a person with that name and bad memories accompany it. My name doesn’t usually evoke negative emotions unless I’m the one who caused them. I liked that my name is unique. So much so that I’ve attempted to pick uncommon names for my daughters as well.

It’s not just my name that has set me apart. Different is a word that has defined my entire life. I grew up in a suburb of Chicago and my family lived on the outskirts of our town. Because of this, I rode the little bus. There were a handful of kids that lived in the “country” and this was how we got to school. Preconceived notions about riding the small bus immediately identify children as “special”. Not that I minded. The comments meant as jabs by others were easy to laugh off because I knew the truth. What did it matter what they said if it wasn’t truth?

I had plenty of friends, but I was, without a doubt, different than them. Physically, I was fairly similar but our lives were different. I was only allowed to watch G-rated movies. I didn’t go to school dances. My ears weren’t pierced. I didn’t (still don’t) wear make-up. The current craze was never something I was privy to. When other kids had the popular toy of that year’s fad, I was happy to have a knock-off. (During the season that Cabbage Patch Kids were hot, I was overjoyed to receive a homemade version from my aunt. It didn’t even matter that Xavier Roberts wasn’t written on the rear!) I happily wore hand-me-downs and lived my childhood rarely dwelling on the fact that I had a different life than that of my classmates. It didn’t bother me because I was like the small circle in the video: just slightly different from the others. It was fun to be unique!

Our home was uncommon as well. We lived in an unfinished home on 5 acres surrounded by farm fields. My dad was building his dream home but never quite finished it. Just as a shoemaker’s children never had shoes, the carpenter’s children never had a finished home. Our house was cool to visit because it was so very different. The kitchen was on the top floor and our bedrooms were in the basement. On side of our home was a big room with a basketball hoop in it. Our friends always found it exciting to come play in our “gym”. We, on the other hand, thought it was no huge deal. We wanted what we found our home to be lacking. My siblings and I always begged our parents for a pool on what we found to be an otherwise empty 5-acres.

Our yard wasn’t really “empty”. It was filled with a garden and wood pile. Our summers were spent working in dad’s garden and helping mom can and freeze the vegetables for the winter. We also could be found hauling in firewood for the winter because our house was heated by wood burning stoves. As a kid, it seemed to me that we were always hard at work while “normal” kids enjoyed the lazy days of summer. We were rewarded for our hard work with ice cream, trips to the zoo and two-day excursions to Six Flags Great America. While I knew my life was different, I didn’t feel deprived. (Honestly, working so much was likely just my perspective as a child. We probably enjoyed a lot of unscheduled fun. It just felt like we were always toiling. As an adult, these differences are just fun facts to share.)

As an adult, I haven’t been so keen on embracing my uniqueness. Recently, I’ve grown tired of being different. My focus has been on the second line of that jingle from Sesame Street: “One of these things doesn’t belong”.

I grow tired of feeling like I don’t fit in. It feels like I’m always swimming upstream in opposition to the rest of the fish in the river. One of the songs from the 2011 Muppets movie has a way of summarizing my recent feelings. “I’m having a ‘me’ party, a party by myself. I’m having a ‘me’ party, I don’t need nobody else. A ‘me’ party, I’m the first and last to show. There’s no one at this party that I don’t already know.”

I’ve been feeling sorry for myself. I’ve grown weary of the effort it takes to not feel so different from everyone else. My “me” party has been a “pity party” celebrating selfishness. It’s not the way I want to live. I’ve temporarily taken my eyes off of the Author and Finisher of my Faith. Without my eyes on Him, I cannot love my uniqueness.

Different.

Unique.

Set apart.

Thefreedictionary.com defines set apart as “to reserve for a specific use; to make noticeable”. Romans 1 tells us that the Apostle Paul was “set apart for the Gospel of God” (ESV). He was chosen by God for a specific use. We were too. In the right state of mind, these are good things. They can tell us that we are living in a way that pleases God. Paul’s words throughout the Bible are there for a reason. He knew what it was like to never quite fit in. 

Romans 12:2 (NLT) instructs us: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Being transformed means to “make a thorough or dramatic change in the form, appearance, or character of.” As Christians, we are called to be different; unique; set apart.

Christianity isn’t the “crutch” some think it is. The Bible is filled with encouragement to continue to persevere and never give up for a reason. If the Christian life was supposed to be easy, we wouldn’t need that type of instruction.

Some days it is hard to continually filter our thoughts and align them with God’s. Yet we cannot give up. We can love our uniqueness. Truly, we can. If we keep our eyes focused on eternity.

“We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen for what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

The only way to love our uniqueness is to continually align our thoughts with God’s Truth (the same way I combated the comments about riding the little bus). Let’s help each other remember that being different; unique; set apart means that you are chosen by God for a purpose! Now that’s a reason to love our uniqueness!

HAH-Blog-Hop-graphic (3)Do you fight against being unique or do you embrace it?

(Today is the Third Thursday of the month. Time for the Hearts at Home Home Blog Hop! This month's topic: Love Your Uniqueness. Head over to Jill's blog to see what other women have to say on the topic.)

1 comment:

  1. This is very well said. We do need to realize that we are all unique because ,as Christians, we are all set apart by God.

    I'm stopping by from the blog hop. :-)

    ReplyDelete