Do you remember learning in high school Biology that no two fingerprints are alike?
Our God took so much care in creating us that He made sure even that tiny detail would be unique. He did the same with snowflakes, leopard prints, and butterfly wings.
And yet we try to cram ourselves into man-made boxes designed to help us “fit in”.
Why do we do it, women? Why do we wish we could all be the same, when it’s our differences that make us beautiful?
I remember assuming as a young person that Adulthood would be the Great Equalizer. It made sense that once we got through those awkward teenage years, those wandering young-adult years, that we would no longer separate ourselves by the size of our jeans or the size of our house. I never imagined that Judgment and Jealousy could survive the mature bonds of Womanhood.
But even now, my old friend Less-Than keeps coming back around! He knocks on my heart even when I’m with the dearest of friends. He has the audacity to try to sneak back in when I’m at church. He even whispered in my ear that Saturday at noon when I was standing in my favorite corner of the kitchen (the one next to the coffee pot), making peanut butter sandwiches for the kids to take outside.
It happened when my favorite worship song came on and I opened my mouth to try to sing along. Oh, how I love Jesus, and how I wish I could offer up a beautiful song to tell Him so. But alas, that’s just not my gift! I’ve tried and I’ve tried but I’ve been told that my singing voice sounds like a duck caught in a garbage disposal (that is an exact quote). P.S., Did you know that there are women in the world who can look pretty and sing pretty at the same time?!! I wondered about the girl who sang to me through the radio as Less-Than began to whisper in my ear and all the I wishes started tumbling out of my heart.
I wish I could…
I wish I was…
And as I cut the crusts off the peanut butter sandwiches, I wished it were as easy to cut down the walls that divide us. Because don’t we still divide ourselves from each other, women? Don’t we still shy away from those who are different from us? Am I the only one who feels intimidated next to a woman who seems so much more… than me? Why do we do it, when the truth is that we need each other, we need each other to be strong, and we need each other to be different?
I paused over the sandwiches and thought of my dear friend Katrina, who also happens to be the coordinator of our MOPS group. Her favorite line is, “You don’t get to go through this alone.” And she means it. She’s the one who will bring dinner to your door without even asking when you’re pregnant and sick. And she’s part of a very special group of women who truly know what it means to link arms and be there for each other. You don’t get to go through this alone.
But sometimes we want to go through it alone, don’t we? We wear our aloneness like a badge of honor. Hold onto it like it’s a rite of passage. We don’t want to bother that neighbor, or we convince ourselves that friend doesn’t truly care, or we’re afraid to let go of our insecurities and ask for help from someone who’s a little different than us. My friends, I write about this not because I’ve got it figured out, but because it’s always been a very real struggle for me. Asking for help can be hard. Admitting we need it can be hard.
I opened the back door to a beautiful sunshiney day, rare for this time of year. Kiddos tumbled outside, grabbing sandwiches on their way. I followed them and took a deep breath as I watched them play in the sun, stopping every now and then to take a bite.
They don’t see their differences, and they don’t judge each other. I wish it could always be this way for them. I want to raise confident women, and if you have a daughter, I’m sure you do too. But how can we teach them something we have yet to grasp for ourselves?
I don’t know all the answers to fostering healthy community. But I do know one crucial step is cutting down the walls that divide us. Like we cut bread crusts off peanut butter sandwiches.
I watched my three year-old try to engage her big sister with a game of hide-and-seek behind the bushes. I kept my eyes on my toddler to keep him safe while he climbed and walked and toddled. As I watched them darting under the patches of light that passed through the leaves, this poem slowly fell into my head. Maybe it’s a little too personal. Maybe it’s a little too silly. But maybe it can encourage one woman today to laugh at her insecurities instead of cry over them. Maybe it can help one reader remember and celebrate her own unique gifts. Maybe it can remind one friend that we’re never really alone. And because of those maybes, I’d like to share it with you.
She is She and I Am Me
By Laura Jane
My friend, she’s got this perfect hair
And I can’t take mine anywhere
Her eyes, they shine from the inside
Mine beneath my glasses hide
Her house is perfect, tidy and neat
I step on Legos in my bare feet
Her song is like a lullaby
Mine could make a walrus cry
I look at her, and perfection I see
And I’m tempted to think less of me
But then I remember my Father above
Who fashioned my soul with great care and love
He gave me the gifts that He knew I would need
I like to cook, to write and to read
And now, dear friend, when I look at you
Finally I see that you struggle too
So let us both promise to no longer compare
Put our arms round each other, and simply be there.
If that’s a little too real… it’s because I care. I care that my daughters grow up knowing this to be true: “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Today I planned a playdate with a new friend who’s a little different than me. Tomorrow I think I’ll call that old friend I haven’t heard from in a while just to let her know I care.
The Greatest Giver of gifts knew what He was doing when He made no two fingerprints alike.
Speaking of our uniqueness… tell me about you. What are the special blessings that God gave to you, on purpose? What are your strengths? What do you like to do for or with your family?
Cutting down walls and bread crusts together,