Have you ever just sat down and asked yourself some of the following questions – what do I like? What do I value? What offends me? Do I want to do that or do this? The questions can go on and on, but the main question you should ask yourself is, who am I? This question is like an umbrella covering tons of other questions.
I will share with you a short story. One time I was spending time with my friends back home in Zambia after a long college lecture. Everybody was exhausted so we decided to gather around to chat and pass time until the next lecture which was in two hours time.
Basically, we were talking about our take on the long lecture and college life, and as we began to share, one of my friends told an offensive joke. Everyone in the group laughed so hard but to their surprise, I did not even smile so most of them said to me, “What’s wrong with you? We will stop joking with you because you take things too seriously.” I responded by saying, “I found that joke offensive and it was not funny.” They all just continued laughing and after some time, another lecture began.
When I went to my room, I felt bad because I was the only one who found the joke offensive. I asked myself, “Why did I do that? What’s wrong with me? I should have followed the crowd,” but as time passed I realized one thing – I was not a fan of offensive jokes. I could not change that, that is who I was and still am. I realized that we are all different and what’s funny to one person may not be to another.
My point is that we should not try to “fit in” to gain acceptance. We should not pretend or try to be who we are not. We should not put on masks to suit the environment. We should be “walking mirrors.” When you get up in the morning and look in the mirror, what do you see? Your reflection. Your reflection can never ever change, no matter what. You can never wake up one morning and reflect another person’s image, it’s impossible.
In that same way, we should never hide our identity, never hide our faith when things get rough, never forget who we are or what we stand for, never deny what we value or what we cherish or what we fight for or even why we speak the way we speak! Never feel embarrassed because we are different from everyone else because God in Jeremiah 1vs 5 said He set us apart and knows us.
Don’t be shy to be different. Don’t be shy to speak up. Don’t be scared to stand up because you are different and your difference can never be matched. Be real and be you. Don’t let the world change you because you are special in your own way. I challenge myself and everybody reading to step out of our boxes and begin to show our true colors, who we truly are, to the world.
United Methodist Department of Health
GMF International, Class of 2015-2017