We aren’t even invited anymore. Decline enough invitations, make enough excuses, and people get the message. Richard and I don’t like Ugly Sweater Parties.
It takes a certain amount of self-confidence to wear something you’re sure no one will find attractive and I don’t have it. Maybe I’m vain enough to want my sweater to be admired. I want mine to be the sweater that other people like. The one that other people want. I really had to evaluate this line of thinking in light of a devotional I just read. It challenged the reader to do this:
Think of your life as a sweater; like a well-loved gift from God.
The devotional went on to pose this question: “How are you living the gift you’ve been given, this life-sweater gift?” It caused me to wonder what my own unique life-sweater from God must look like. Trying to picture my uniquely knit-together sweater made me think of a Scripture passage from the Psalms.
For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:13-16, NIV
I couldn’t help but wonder about some specific words in that passage, especially in the NIV translation that says I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Fearfully? I like the thought of wonderfully, but fearfully? Am I made to make people afraid? Was God afraid of how I would turn out when He finished knitting me together? I knew that wasn’t right. I needed to know what it meant.
Yare – stand in awe of
Palah – to be separated or distinct. Distinguished – make a distinction, set apart, wondrously show. To literally or figuratively put a difference, show marvelous.
Shauna, the author of this devotional, gets it.* She grasps the fearfully and wonderfully made concept. This devotional book is the second of her books that I’ve read where she stresses how each of us is so uniquely created to have our own special, one-of-a-kind relationship with God. To relate to Him in our own individual way. In uncovering the meanings of fearfully and wonderfully, I’ve also discovered something about my life-sweater. My sweater, the one that looks like no one else’s, will display a facet of God’s character in a way that no one else’s can. Because my life-sweater is knit specifically to show it. To show marvelous. To palah.
God stood in awe of the life-sweater He knit for me. Not only did He yare at His handiwork, when others see it they’ll be in awe, too. Not of me, but of the God-characteristic He knit into my sweater. Into me.
Sometimes, though, instead of recognizing the awe-factor of my own sweater, I’ve envied other people’s sweaters. Why would I do that? Why do we want someone else’s life-sweater when our own are so awesome? Someone else’s sweater will not look awesome on me, no matter how jaw-dropping I find it on them.
Because it’s not my sweater.
I have my own one-of-a-kind creation. So do you. We weren’t made to wear uniforms. The Psalmist didn’t say we were rolled out one-by-one on a production line. I don’t worship like most other women in my church. I don’t interact with God and relate to Him like Woman A, Woman B, or Woman C. That doesn’t make any one of us right, nor does it make any one of us wrong.
Is anyone besides me amazingly relieved by that fact? Finally grasping that concept gives me a peace I haven’t had for a long time, because I’ve wasted a lot of years feeling guilty that my sweater looked so… different. I spent a lot of energy trying to make my sweater look like other people’s. Their sweaters are fine… for them. They’re just not my style.
I’m not ashamed anymore of my one-of-a-kind sweater. I believe God has given me the chance to show others a unique side of His personality and character that might otherwise often go unseen. Maybe what some would consider a little quirky. Maybe an odd color combination that others would never have tried, but that somehow works in a really different way. A palah way.
I had the chance to see some beautifully unique life-sweaters on a trip to Washington State this fall. They intrigued me and they left me desperately wanting my own wearable, living work of art. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I had my own all along. I was just afraid to wear it. Don’t you be afraid. I’ll wear mine if you’ll wear yours.
We’re gonna look awesome!