Andrew, our youngest son, has been pretending lately to be a puppy dog or a kitty cat. He does this often, and I get the feeling he is using it as sort of a defense mechanism. No one can be upset with a sweet little puppy dog, after all. When a little kitty is looking up at you with big, blue-gray eyes, meowing ever so softly and sweetly, you’re not going to get irritated. You’re not going to bark at them to go in timeout.
I felt like Andrew was using “cuteness” as a way to seek favor and kindness from us. So one day I found myself saying to him, “Andrew, you are already extremely cute. You cannot be any more cute and precious than you already are. Puppy dogs and kitty cats are not as cute and precious as Andrew.”
In case it wasn’t clear, Andrew is already incredibly cute and precious. It’s just the way God made him. Like most parents, I believe all of my children are adorable. But God took cuteness to a ridiculous level this time. Andrew is extremely small for his age, normally coming in around the fifth percentile for height. Sometimes 2T clothes are still a little loose on him, even though he is getting close to four years old.
Holiday cuteness takes it up a notch:
Dress up for luau day brings it to a whole new level:
Now it’s just ridiculous:
God also gave him a squeaky little voice that puts his cuteness over the top. So when I saw him feeling like he needed to pretend in order for people to like him, or be nice to him, or to think he was lovable, it hurt my heart a little.
I wanted him to know that the best way for him to receive love and affection and kindness from us was just to be himself. There was no way for him to improve on how God made him, especially not by pretending. Just be exactly who God made him to be, and he can’t go wrong.
It’s the same for you. Just be who God created you to be, and you cannot go wrong. It may even hurt His heart a little that you would think you need to be like anyone else. He loves you and forgives you, of course, for any misunderstanding you may have about your identity. But for your own sake, and for everyone’s sake, I think He wants you to know how precious and valuable you are—especially when you are simply being yourself.
You are precious.
You are valuable.
You are loved.
You are accepted.
I personally struggle with this issue sometimes. I see great ministry leaders who bear all kinds of amazing fruit for God’s kingdom, and I think to myself, “I feel like maybe I could do that.” Maybe I could write like they write, or speak like they speak. Maybe I could encourage others just like they do.
But God didn’t make me to be like them. God doesn’t need another Chris Hodges, or Christine Caine, or Max Lucado. He doesn’t need another Paula White or Lysa TerKeurst. He doesn’t need another Tony Evans or Steven Furtick. So many of us are trying to emulate those kinds of people. But God already has them. We already have them.
The world already has them.
Besides that, it doesn’t really work. Any attempt by me to “be like” someone else has always fallen flat. Other times, I’m emulating someone else but I don’t even realize it until after I’ve already done it. Either way, it never goes very well. But when I write the way God created me to write, sharing the things He has given me to share, people are often blessed through my efforts.
Of course, we can always work on getting better. We can learn from others. But we have to figure out who God made us to be. We have to explore and determine what God has gifted and called us to do. We have to try things out—to test and refine the message God gives us to carry.
As we go down the path of life, let’s all stay committed to being exactly who God created and called us to be. If we all do that, the body of Christ will be much better off, and we will personally be a lot happier and more fulfilled.