I don’t know about you, but I have never been someone who seems to fit neatly into a group, wears the cool clothes or says the right things. I always seem to stick out and am the one who is different.
I remember a photo from when I was about five from my ballet class. Everyone else was standing in a beautiful pose, looking elegant and graceful. And there I am striking a tomboy ‘Peter Pan’ stance with a massive grin on my face and completely standing out. Over the years, I tried my hardest to dance well and to fit in to the class, but let’s be honest I was not made for ballet. The main reason I kept persisting was due to the theatre productions put on in the summer each year, which I loved doing. There was never the opportunity to audition and the parts always went to the older children or the best dancers. Every year I danced and sang and acted as hard as I could, desperate for the teacher to see the potential that I had, but it never was enough. Other girls who looked right and fitted in better were given chances I never was given. This was an incredibly hard lesson and something I will admit I have had to work through because it fed into my insecurities that I was never going to be good enough. For many years I lived and strived to be noticed, desperate for someone to recognise the beauty and potential within me.
One of the biggest healings for me in the past few years and something I have to continually remember, is that God sees me as His precious and beautiful daughter and delights in me. (1 John 3 v1) Even if no-one else were able to see the beauty and potential within me, God does, and He loves me even when I have got so much wrong. (Romans 5 v8) When I live in that truth and identify myself as a child of God, I find the affirmation and acceptance that I have spent my life looking for. This gives me the confidence and ability to look for the beauty within others without feeling threatened.
You just have to look at the way Jesus lived to have the perfect model of how to see others. The people he talked to, reached out to and loved included those who were deemed undesirable ‘sinners’, yet he could see through all of that and see them through eyes of love, compassion and grace. It is a reminder that none of us are perfect or will we ever be, and that is okay. We need to remember that is through the grace of God, through Jesus’ sacrifice alone, that we are saved (john 3vs16).
Therefore we can walk in freedom and forgiveness through His strength and not our own. When we allow God to mould, shape and refine us, and develop the gifts He has blessed us with, we are fulfilling the purpose that God has created us for.
When I look back I can see how God put some amazing people in my life who were able to see underneath the surface and help draw out my potential. I was blessed with the most amazing music teacher Miss Stone. When other people passed me by, just saw my awkwardness and differences, she looked deeper and saw the potential and heart within.
Even when I walked through anxiety and depression and had no faith in myself, she gave me chances and opportunities; she believed in me and worked with me so that I could reach this potential. God used this incredible teacher to turn around a negative situation into a positive one. How often in the Bible did people do things intended for harm yet God turned into blessings you just have to look at Jacob, Joseph and Moses to see this in action.
I am learning how to look deeper, beyond people’s insecurities, to encourage, mentor and patiently look for the gold in someone.
As I have been writing this, the image of panning for gold keeps coming to mind. People will patiently and painstakingly sift through mud, water and stones in hope of finding the precious gold. They don’t focus on the dirt that is so obviously there, but they look deeper, with the belief that they will find something precious.
What a challenge this is to us! Proverbs 11 vs 27 says ‘The one who searches for what is good finds favour, but if someone looks for trouble, it will come to him’. Let us be people who actively seek to find the positive in people and find their giftings. Let’s be people who break the mould and not seek the dirt, but pan for gold – it is more precious and lasting by far.