I had the privilege of sharing the stage this past weekend with model/actress Amanda Booth. You might
recognize her from Harpers Bazaar, Anthropologie or even the cover of Vogue Living. Like me, she has a child with Down Syndrome. As she shared a piece of her story she spoke of the facts in the world she worked in. Different has always been beautiful. In fact, it's her crooked nose that's landed a few of her biggest modeling gigs.
Different is beautiful.
Then why is it we are all trying so hard to fit in? Why do we compare. Try to be like or even believe we'd be better if we were more like "them." In every season of each of our lives we will be tempted to believe the worlds perspective and it’s opinions. You are not smart, you are too fat, your hair is to straight, too curly. You are too girly, you aren’t girly enough. You laugh loud, you talk loud. You need to speak up.
And more so, you are a reject, you are dirty, you are abandoned you are an addict, for you…there is no way. But that is the noise.
You have heard it said, “You are what you eat.” A very wise nutritionist said once that this is not actually the truth. In actuality, you are what you metabolize. If your body does not absorb what you eat, it passes through and has no impact on the building blocks of your physiology. The same can be said of the words, actions and various other messages that bombard us daily.
“As we believe in our heart, so are we.” Proverbs 23:7
We are bathed daily in a world of interactions, and somewhere in those interactions we become what we allow into our hearts. With this in mind, we should learn what it means to “guard our hearts above all else.” We can sink our roots in the truth found in Ephesians 2:10.
Instead, we are God’s accomplishment, (masterpiece, handiwork) created in Christ Jesus to do good things. God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives.
This is what defines us. It's what defines YOU.
When our oldest daughter Addie who has down syndrome was going into the fifth grade we changed schools. The principal there suggested we prepare and share with her new classmates about Down Syndrome and things they could expect when interacting with her. I knew in my gut it was the right thing to do. I had just gone this far with the motto “more alike than different” That we had not even told Addie this was part of her. And so Marcus and I decided to call for a family meeting.
THE FAMILY MEETING
I don’t think I’ve ever been more nervous to have a conversation in my life. I mapped it all out. I thought through all the contingencies. I blocked out an entire evening. I had an answer for every question. I had tissues ready for the weeping and gnashing of teeth. I braced myself for the torrent of emotion I was sure would come.
And so we told them: “Kids, Mom and Dad love you so much. And we want you to know that Addision has Down Syndrome.”
There were two responses.
Addie's: “I DO? YES!! I have Down Syndrome! Awesome.”
The other kids: “Yeah, we kinda know that. It’s just Addie.”
A brief explanation followed—which was really only my opening statement. But within two minutes, they all asked if they could go play. My HUGE issue was in fact a non-issue.
It wasn’t a big deal. Addie wasn’t her diagnosis. Addie was Addie—her gifts, talents, qualities—and yes, challenges. I was the one bracing for the thunder clap of disappointment that never came. It never was a big deal. A medical definition wasn’t going to define what she could do or couldn’t do. Her identity was already a settled issue—and there was no room for tears.
Same is true for you. Who is defining you? You get to decide. There are times I am very afraid–afraid of being criticized, judged, even laughed at. But fear only holds me back from progress in my life. It impacts my ability to live my dreams and fulfill my potential. There’s a lot of talk about courage nowadays. And I'm among those who want to live that way. I want to be brave.
Simply put, #doyou. When you are uncomfortable, hold your head high and risk. When you feel awkward, don't shirk back. Step up. When you are afraid, do it anyway–#doyou. Each plan is unique. Every person is one of a kind. You were created on purpose. So stand up and be who YOU were created to be. Look to God’s word to what he says. No matter your challenge, no matter your setback, no matter what you even believe His words are truth. YOU DO YOU!