Loving our Differences

It’s been a very quiet week at our house.  That’s because our twelve year old is away on a youth missions trip.  I’ve heard little snippets from the week through social media, including the fact that my daughter was one of a group of kids that were asked over loud speaker to STOP SINGING in the top of the St. Louis Arch. I’m not surprised (actually I think it’s pretty funny–and I’m dying to hear what song they were singing).

The reason I am not surprised is that my daughter Olivia is very outgoing.  She is one of the most energetic and unafraid people I know, and she makes her presence known where ever she goes.  Adults have mentioned Olivia’s boldness to me, and others make mention of her self-confidence. I have worried that her boldness will put others off.  I have worried that she will be kept from opportunities in life if she is not more calm and considerate.

I have struggled with trying to stifle Olivia’s enthusiasm at times, myself a more cautious personality.  I have worried that others will see her in a negative light.  I have tried sometimes to make her more like me, perfectionistic and careful.  There.  I have confessed.

But God is showing me a different picture.

I am realizing more each day how beautiful Olivia’s differences are.  I can see the abilities she has and the opportunities that would not come to a person like me.  I see the leadership potential (and even the leadership currently working in her).  I am learning, instead of trying to make her like me, to help her to be the best HER she can be.  I am learning to trust God with who she is.

I am proud of Olivia because she has an unashamed faith in Christ.  I am proud of Olivia because she is mature and responsible for her age, and I can trust her with many things.  I am proud of Olivia because she is good at caring for children.  I am proud of Olivia because she is a very hard worker and often goes above and beyond what is asked of her.

At the end of the 6th grade Olivia received an achievement award from her teacher.  It is one of two awards given in the classroom for outstanding students in academics and citizenship.  Olivia was ineligible for the citizenship award because she had received that award from her 5th grade teacher last year.  Following is just some of what Olivia’s sixth grade teacher said about her when giving her the Outstanding Achievement award:

“Outstanding Students know what it means to be successful.  Outstanding students extend themselves to learn beyond the classroom, many with the help of technology.  The recipient of this award demonstrates a passion for learning, a curiosity of ideas.  Schoolwork is always beyond the expected.  To put is simply, this person has enthusiasm for learning.  While many in room 122 exhibit these traits, this award was only for one student.  So the 2013 Outstanding Achievement Award goes to Olivia Gatchell.”

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Bravo Olivia!

We need to appreciate our differences.  Yes, even to love them. I extend this truth to adults in the workplace and in ministry settings.  I challenge you to look at someone you have tried to change and see the strengths he or she has to offer.  Then determine  how those strengths can compliment your own.  Now you are on your way to team building!  Now you are on your way to being stretched in new ways  yourself!

Yes, sometimes I have wanted everyone to be like me.  ~It would be so much easier that way~ and yet so much would be lost in the process.  Vive la difference!