Differences, we all have them. Some are visible to the eye, others lay beneath the surface, waiting in anticipation for someone to notice. We are all so different; so unique, so wonderfully made, and I would go so far as to say — extraordinary.
Hey friends, my name is Danielle (Dee if we want to be less formal) and I too, am different. For the ones who are just hearing my name for the first time, I was born with achondroplasia dwarfism. In the simplest terms, this means that my bones don’t grow very much, and I will be little for the rest of my life. Everything in my body is the same as yours, just condensed into a smaller package. I am the only one in my family with dwarfism, and this has often led me to the question: Why did God make me this way? As any “Good Christian” would do, I turned to the Bible in the hopes of finding an answer to this question. In 2 Corinthians 4:18 it says, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Well this doesn’t answer my question. In fact, when I came across this verse it drove my original question into the essence of what i’ll be writing about.
“God how do you expect me not to fix my eyes on my physical appearance? When it seems like that’s the only thing about me the world is looking at?”
I don’t remember the exact day that I started realizing I was different. I have a younger brother and even as he grew taller than me, I don’t remember that being too alarming. He was my little-big brother, my protector, the one who could do things for me, so believe me I was fine with it. When I was around 5 years old, we were driving home from a Little People of British Columbia event – an organization for people of short stature, and from the back seat of the van I asked, “Am I going to look just like so and so when I grow up?” My mom is not someone who beats around the bush, so when her 5 year old daughter asks a very direct question about her future, there is no point in being vague. “Yup, you are” she had said. For a moment I was silent, I guess processing what this meant, but who knows. After a moment I replied, “Okay”, and that was the end of it. My mom tells me I never asked the question again.
Another time we were in the car, and as she parked she heard a dramatic sigh come from the backseat, “What’s wrong?” she asked. Silence filled the air as she awaited my response, then I replied with, “I’m just preparing for everyone to stare at me when I get out of the car”. Just like when your child falls and scrapes their knee, and you aren’t supposed to show them it’s a big deal, my mom never showed me how profound, serious, and sad that statement was. “Yup, you ready for it?” she asked me. To which I took a deep breath and replied “Yeah I’m ready.”
I tell you these stories not to make you sad, or to throw myself a pity party, but rather I tell them because I believe there is a profound freedom that comes when we acknowledge our situations, and allow God to use them in the way he’d like. Because, if God is the true Creator of all things, then he has created all of you. Now I don’t know why some of us seem to have it a little harder in certain areas than others. This isn’t a “my difference is worse than yours” debate, but if we are to believe that God is the Creator of all things, then we’ve got to believe that He will work some type of purpose into all of you.
I didn’t have to love that I was going to be stared at, nor did I have to love my mom’s answer that I look different. All I had to do was acknowledge it was there, and make a decision to get out of the car. You may be asking yourself now, “how do I acknowledge my difference?” Well, how often do we walk past a mirror and look at our appearance? I would bet, that every time we see ourselves in the mirror, we are taking notice of something about ourselves. Is it your height? Your weight? Maybe your hair colour? Skin colour? The way your outfit is on fleek!? I don’t know if people still say ‘on fleek’, but you get the picture. I’m going to be bold and suggest that we look at ourselves a lot more than we’d ever admit. In that case, in just this one example of looking in a mirror, we’re actually acknowledging what makes us different, a lot more than we realize.
Still with me? Because now it’s one thing to acknowledge the existence of something, but it’s a whole other thing to let God use it for good! So bringing it back to what I mentioned earlier, that can be a tough thing to wrestle with — you feel like the parts of you that make you so different, are the only parts the world is looking at.
Now I’m feeling like we need some good news!
True freedom comes when we are able to surrender to the fullness of who we have been created to be — this includes our unique differences. Giving God our differences, and laying them down, brings freedom. We can surrender our minds, our thoughts, our hearts, our dreams, relationships, finances, you name it! Albeit, have we ever thought what would happen if we surrendered the parts we wish were different? The parts of us that make us unique, the parts of us that stand out a little more, or maybe they are hidden beneath the surface. Differences aren’t a mark of an imperfection, rather a unique signature from your Creator — a one of a kind, beautiful mark that claims “I am yours, and you are mine.” And if we are truly going to walk out our life’s purpose on earth, we must begin to see our differences as God’s signature that help’s to unlock our true freedom. We can’t change how we look, or the life we’ve been given, but we sure can choose how we live in it. Just like those field trip permission slips we had to get signed in school— we’ve got God’s signature, now its your turn to hand it in. You are His ability to bring the kingdom of heaven down to earth and to shine his light
in the places that do not yet know who He is – that is your purpose. We fix our eyes on what is unseen because our freedom comes from what is hidden in eternity.
You are so special to God, every part of you is special. I’ve spent a lot of my life learning how to surrender my dwarfism — trusting that my disability can be used for good. That God has created all of me, and perhaps my dwarfism is what God wants to use. Some days it’s easy, some day’s I can’t bear the thought of trusting God with it. It’s a process, but nonetheless a process worth doing.
Probably you: “Alright Dee…. I know what makes me different, what do I do about it?”
Well, well, well, let me tell you!
- Acknowledge what makes you different.
In no way does that mean you have to love it, or that you need to have it all figured out — just acknowledge and accept that it’s there. If we aren’t willing to accept what makes us different, accept our situation, then we won’t be able to lay them down.
- Lay it down.
The truth is, our differences can be heavy! The world is heavy, and it’s heavy to carry your difference alone. But thank goodness we have a God, who sent Jesus to do the one thing we couldn’t do, and who came to carry our burdens for us. For example, “God, I lay down ______ today. Thank you for carrying my difference.”
- Walk through the door.
Take a step of faith, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, God will give you the strength to move forward in freedom from the differences we carry.
So if you’re still with me, acknowledging our differences reveals the door, laying them down unlocks the door, and before you feel as if you cant possibly walk through that door alone, it says in 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” Friend, he walks through that door with you. You’re not alone, and walking through that freedom door, is a lot lighter when we’ve laid down the heavy load of our differences.
As Christians, we have a unique opportunity to partner with God, to spread the message of Jesus, and shine his light while on earth. In order to fully participate in this, we’ve got to trust God with every part of us — differences and all. If God is who he says he is, and he is the Creator of all things, then rest assured that he has purposefully, wonderfully, carefully, and lovingly, created ALL of you.
Your difference is safe with the God who created you.