Sunday, 22 August 2010

Spot the difference

Look at the people around you. They could be members of your family, work colleagues, friends or total strangers. It doesn't take a genius to spot the differences in physical appearance. Blonde hair, brown hair, blue eyes, green eyes, 6ft tall, 5ft short, athletically toned or voluptuous curves. We all look different. Even identical twins will have something that makes them unique in appearance. Now think about the people you are friends with and look beyond their physical appearances. Focus on who they are as people. Patient, quick to anger, happy, whiny, confident, shy, loud, quiet. You see, we all have our differences.

A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to go on a mission trip to do children's work in Uganda. I was part of a team that consisted of myself and 11 people who were members of my church. We weren't hand selected as the 'best' people to go, nor did we have to go through a rigorous application and interview process, we were just 12 individuals who wanted to go and serve in Uganda.

On one of our first meetings whilst still in the UK I looked around the group at my fellow team mates and there were at least 6 people on the team who I didn't really want to spend 14 days in Uganda with. Some of the team I considered as being too old, others were moany and whiny, or just too annoying for my liking! Given the choice, these people would not be on my team. However, when we arrived in Uganda and we got down to doing what we had set out to do, none of it mattered. 12 ordinary individuals became 12 extraordinary team members known more affectionately as the Dream Team.

In the Bible God describes us as a body:
“Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. You are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” 1 Cor 12:14-27 (paraphrased)

What if all 12 of the Dream Team were good singers? Or what if all of us were good at listening to children? Who would do the crafts, who would do the dancing and who would tell the stories? Each one of us had something to offer, some special talent that God had given us, and each one was different to enable us to complete our purpose – serving the children of Uganda.

I believe we are all called to be Dream Team members in the places we live and where we go to school, college or work. We all have a special talent to share that can help make the lives of the people around us easier and better. I see us all as jigsaw pieces. The bits on a jigsaw piece that stick out are the areas where our strengths, talents and the things we are good at make us outstanding. The bits on a jigsaw piece that are cut out are the areas of our lives where we have weaknesses and lack certain qualities. As individuals we need to embrace the things we are good at, embrace that special talent and become outstanding because it is then, and only then that we can truly fit together as one big jigsaw puzzle. You may be a brilliant dancer but not so good at being patient, but there will be someone else who is fantastic at being patient and keeping a calm head who can make up for your weakness. When Dream Teams are built our true purposes can be lived out.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous. Actually who are you not to be. You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others" Marianne Williamson.

So, are we going to let our different talents really shine? Are we going to show that we are all outstanding and embrace our differences? I am learning every day to be who I am made to be and to let my God given talents shine out.

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