You are an original!

Appearances are a trap, we are special and unparalleled, and we must believe this statement, not in pride but in amazement. Scripture tells us that we are precious in the Lord’s sight.

Isaiah 43:1-2 ESV But now thus says the LORD,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and through the rivers, they shall not
overwhelm you; and the flame shall not consume you.

We are each created in the image of God and with a specific purpose. You are an original. Ephesians 2:10 reminds us that we are his masterpiece, His workmanship created in Christ for things in the future.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Our days on this earth should be spent discovering what those gifts are and allowing the Lord to use us. A part of the process of discovery involves choosing whose voice we may hear and follow. The visual cues and whispers of culture make us feel like we’re supposed to be like everyone else. But we’re unique!! From the book of Genesis and throughout the Bible, scripture tells us that we’re supposed to be set apart for God’s plans.

Leviticus 20:26 You must be holy because I, the LORD, am holy. I have set you apart from all other people to be my very own.

Paul, a transformed disciple of Jesus shared with the Ephesians in Acts 20:32, that they who follow Jesus may be blessed, “And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself.

You can be single, in a relationship, or married, God calls you to be set apart for His plans. There are times when each one of us, as single parents or co-parenting, we can feel the poke or prompt that we, ourselves, or our kids should be doing this or should be doing that. We may feel pressured to wear trendy clothes or for our children to wear trendy clothes. We may feel pressured individually or encourage our child to look a certain way, maybe its nose piercings or tattoos.

Maybe, we feel pressured to be a certain way because we want to be noticed. We may ponder, “I just want to fit in, I’m the parent, I want to be a friend, or I don’t like conflict just peace, I will follow the crowd or give my kid whatever they want so they fit in.” We tell ourselves, “I should make sure that I’m not being a bad example of a Christian”.

It is a battle with appearance, God’s path, or cultures. Struggling with comparison to other people can bring us to a place of sin. It can happen to adults and kids. Before we know it, we may compromise and decide or let our kids wear whatever they want, watch on media whatever, or do something against the ways of God.

We may choose to do something just so we fit in. However, We are not called to fit in. We are called to be set apart. At times, it can be a lonely place, and yet, inner aloneness is when we are still with God.

There were times raising children when I was seen as the strict, inflexible Mom. My kids felt the restrictions were not fair, they felt like the odd man out. I am learning if mistakes happen to handle the instruction in grace, love, and mercy like Jesus.

I provided a place for their friends to come to hang out after sports practices or games or a few times a year as an end-of-the-summer or seasonal hangout for preteens and teens. I wanted to be the place a teen could land for good clean fun. The parents of these teens felt comfortable sending their teens to our home. There was no alcohol or drugs, some parental supervision, and the teens who joined us knew we were Christians. I gathered the group of teens for grace before meals, had some posted scriptures on our walls, and even gave high fives or hugs to the teen guys as they came and left the home.

There was even a time when in a winter snowstorm I had the teen basketball team overnight. I served pizza, multi snacks, and beverages. The guys even shoveled off the basketball half-court and played 3 on 3. Time spent with these groups and others was super special.

Investing in our children and their peers matters. I may have needed a few nights of more sleep, but it was so worth it. There is a fullness of joy in serving others.

Sometimes as a parent, I felt the peer pressure to avoid conflict and give in to my child/teen’s requests, but I would always go back to the reminder, I am set apart and as a follower of Jesus, I must not be double-minded.

James 1: 5 – 8 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and
tossed by the wind. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

We must trust our choices and actions to God. We must seek to please Him above seeking appearances that measure up to human standards or culture. We must be still with God and make time to read His Word, learn His ways, and break patterns that hold us captive to other idols.

In our stillness with God, we could find ourselves again. Maybe even find yourselves the way our Creator God has made us. What an amazing journey. It is not something to fear but to anticipate with joy.

Psalm 139:17 -18 How precious are your thoughts about me,And when I wake up, you are still with me!O God. They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them, they outnumber the grains of sand!

Because there are different parts that makeup who we are, unique and beautiful and with purpose. Read the full chapter of Psalm 139 aloud sometimes, slowly. It is a wonderful picture of how the Creator God loves you. Even with our challenges in character, past mistakes, past trauma, and choices, we have a loving God who wants us to see ourselves as He does without blemish.

Think of the transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly. Crawling along seeking food, perhaps, being food for its predators, hiding under leaves, lonely. Then in time, the caterpillar becomes a floating, beautiful butterfly with wings, shining a colorful image as it moves freely away from its original position on its belly.

Only God knows of things in secret places of our lives. And yet he wants to make those things beautiful. He wants us to be used for the Kingdom’s purpose. He wants our trust in His guidance not in the idol of keeping up appearances. The world culture will never satisfy us deep inside only the love of our Savior whose praise we really need.

So put down the need to be just like someone else, God has called you to be so much more. God called you to be you and use your gifts and seek forgiveness when you screw up and you get a do-over and be made right with our Creator God and be amazed as you grow in your faith to become the Light of Christ for others. Amen

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