There is always tomorrow
There is always good
There is always hope
(Poem and Photo by Brett Beeson)
Disclosure: My blog post this month is going to be on a completely unoriginal topic. Be that as it may, I figured I would tackle it anyway, because, for better or for worse, the discussion remains ongoing.
“Be ourselves.” It sounds easy, doesn’t it?
Like every other peppy thing we place on inspirational posters or “hip” decorations from Pier 1, it encourages us to embrace individuality, take strength from the “power of me,” and boost our self-confidence. It even has biblical inspiration!
In 1 Samuel 17, we read of the warrior-poet David, who chooses to defy Saul’s wish to fight Goliath in the king’s armor, favoring instead his own flimsy slingshot. Not only was David defying the king, he was also acting contrary to every precept of military tactics and the expectations of the entire Israeli army—the peers of his older brothers, his heroes. And then there was the minor detail of a murderous giant menacing him from across the field.
Still, though, in the face of all of these challenges, David chose to trust in God enough to forge his own path, to embrace his “uniqueness.”
Fantastic. Now how do we replicate that behavior today? Should we? What does “embracing our uniqueness” even mean? Does it mean that I should I break out my mom’s Colombian poncho from the seventies? What about my secret stash of “Star Wars” tees? My flannel?
I wear a government-mandated uniform every day, from a command ball cap down to my steel-toed boots, so you might call me a hypocrite. Similarly, other forms of expression—such as talking back to one’s boss, posting politics on Facebook, and going where I want, when I want—also get swept off the table.
The list of “cannots” can seem pretty daunting from a service member’s point of view. So, again, just how does one be like David? And, well-thumbed Bible stories aside, what is the actual worth of doing so?
Admittedly, I could be wrong, but I’m going with individuality as a state of mind.
It’s about accepting ourselves for who we are, quirks, idiosyncrasies and all, and finding the beauty in these differences. Personally, I might hold some grudges with God for my achingly slow metabolism. I can be impatient, I don’t understand numbers, and my twin would heartily attest that some social cues are just beyond my comprehension.
That being said, I figure I might be able to claim one or two positive attributes, such as an eternal openness to adventure. Clearly, the list will vary from person to person. And that’s the way it should be (see 1 Corinthians 12:1–11).
If God had wanted us to all be clones, He would have done so. But instead, we are a kaleidoscope of personalities and cultures, and, cliche though it may sound, our differences are what make humanity somehow progress.
That’s not to say being different is easy.
Being “the other” can feel intimidating and uncomfortable at times; it can bring us humiliation before our peers, who won’t always appreciate the value in diversity. And, frankly, it’s just hard. It’s hard to always be the lone voice of dissent, the oddball in the room. Say what you like about sticks and stones—words hurt, and the weight of silent judgment burns.
So where does that leave us?
Well, individuality is a daily choice.
And sometimes it’s not an easy one, like Haagen-Dazs or Ben & Jerry’s. (Ben & Jerry’s. Clearly.) Sometimes we have to really lean into God for the courage to speak up, to be different.
But, ultimately, although living true to our individual eccentricities may seem “weird” at the time, accepting ourselves for who and what we are is the only viable path to happiness. And who knows? By breaking free of the stereotypes, and by choosing to live according to our own knowledge of what is right, perhaps like young David we, too, will rise to new heights of leadership and inspiration.
Only one thing is for certain: if we never try, we’ll never know.
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ~ Oscar Wilde
About Brett Beeson
Brett Beeson, officially, is an ensign (officer) in the United States Navy, currently attached to DDG54 Curtis Wilbur out of Yokosuka, Japan. She graduated in 2014 from the United States Naval Academy with a Bachelor of Science in Arabic and a minor in Spanish. Unofficially, she is the “evil twin” (one of Jory’s twin daughters), that annoying-friend-who-won’t-stop-calling, perpetual questioner, ice cream enthusiast, scribbler, roarer-of-laughter, and eternal student of God’s amazing mysteries. After extensive travel in Morocco and Oman, she has become passionate about furthering her/our understanding of the Middle East and Islam. To enjoy more of Brett’s writing, please visit Randomness with Brett.