“We rise by lifting others.” ~Robert Ingersoll
“When I grow up, I want to be like Judy,” I told my friend Chris. I was lamenting my lack of progress in transforming into the perfect woman of God I had imagined. “When God is done fixing me, I want to be calm, quiet, and wise like Judy.”
As I expressed my frustration, my sweet friend listened well as always, until the steady stream of words stopped and I paused to take a breath.
“Whatever God’s perfect plans are for you, Kelly, I can’t imagine they will involve you being calm and quiet,” she said gently, her eyes twinkling as she smiled at me. “Whatever God has planned for you will be the perfect match for your loud, enthusiastic, bubbling, passionate personality. God didn’t make you calm and quiet. He made you in a different way, and I’m so glad he did. You aren’t supposed to be like her; you are meant to be you.”
I have returned to that conversation repeatedly over the years. My friend reminded me God created me with a particular Kelly-shaped blueprint. He gave me particular strengths, talents, and personality traits unlike any other of his creations. While we are each made in the image of our God, we express the variety and beauty of that image in a myriad of ways. My job is to express the “Kelly-ness” of God.
It is tempting to look around and see others who seem to have what we want. I envied my friend Judy’s quiet wisdom and thoughtful demeanor, mistakenly believing it was “holier” than my naturally more ebullient style of communicating. Yet in the years since I received Chris’s encouragement, I have seen how God has been able to use my gifts in a different way, even as I learn from her quieter example. Judy and I ended up working together, and I saw firsthand how our styles complemented each other. God used our differences to build up his people in more ways than he might have had we been more alike.
My friend gave me a precious gift the day she chose to encourage me and name me well. She saw my unique gifts, affirmed God’s work in my life, and expressed her love and affection for me–the real me, the person God made like no other.
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