December 17, 2015
The story is told of a rooster that was free-ranging one afternoon, when he encountered something that staggered him: an ostrich egg. He was so impressed by its size, that he decided to roll it all the way back to the hen house to show the ladies what he had found. As they gathered in a circle around the monstrous egg, the rooster began to explain, “I don’t want to sound critical, but I just wanted to show you what other hens are doing in other places.” We all know that the comparison was a false one. But it does illustrate something that you and I do, and have had done to us: we are made to feel guilty by comparison.
As a child, I was a challenge for both my parents and teachers. I repeatedly heard at home and at school, “Why can’t you be like your brother?” There was a fundamental difference between us that even I recognized. He was focused; I was distracted. He was handsome; I was a handful. He was artistic; they suspected I might be slightly autistic. He was charming and polite; I was rebellious and sarcastic. Believe me, I could go on.
What made it tough was that I soon wanted to be my brother, but knew that I couldn’t. I loved my brother, but I didn’t like him, most of the time. Our relationship was a roiling riot, and it was always “his fault.” After all, he was older; therefore it had to be his fault. But my parents were convinced it was mine.
Today my brother and I are the best of friends. But it took years of separation down different paths before each of us became secure in our own identities. Through Christ we came to realize the wisdom of Paul’s words, “…comparing themselves with each other… What foolishness! …Our goal is to stay within the boundaries of God’s plan for us…” (2 Corinthians 10:12-13, NLT)
The simple truth is that I “could not” be like my brother because that was never God’s plan for my life. As Paul explained, “God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” (1 Corinthians 12:18) As one wise man put it, “God, our wise and creative Maker, has been pleased to make everyone different and no one perfect.” Besides, as the notorious Oscar Wilde famously observed, “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”
It is unfortunate that we often tell young people they can become whatever they want because it’s just not true. If you are 5’7” tall, you will never play in the NBA! The simple fact is that life may be fair, but it’s not always equal.
But here is the good news. The world is not in need of a hipper, cooler, more beautiful charming and version of you. It does need the real, authentic, unapologetic version of “the you” God made you to be. The real you is always more attractive than an imitation of someone else.
Pastor Ken Ortize