We toured colleges with our son last spring. In every tour, in every talk, we heard a similar spiel: “We want to get to know you — get a sense of who you are. The best applicants are the ones where students are themselves.”
I hate to be cynical, but all the “just be you” enthusiasm made me skeptical since most of these schools admit like 5 new students a year. Statistically, it doesn’t seem like being oneself is as important as SAT scores, GPA, or any other metric that funnels the throngs of applicants into a thread of coveted acceptance letters. Highly competitive schools with high performing applicants humanizing their cut-throat admission policies with a warm, fuzzy, encouragement to simply be oneself, and as surely as the sun rises in the east you will shine.
Of course, we have all heard the same messages in our own lives. It’s not a bad message either – to just be yourself. In a day when diversity has become a means of deliverance, individualism has become an art of self-love. Still, one can only play Mirror, Mirror on the Wall for so long without becoming utterly bored or an utterly boring narcissist. Loving others has always been where it’s at – where we truly feel full, alive, and connected. So, yes, be you but don’t be all about you. One of the things I love most about God is he loves unconditionally and universally. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” (Galatians 3:28). The world may classify its people into hierarchies, but God has none of that. He made each of us unique and yet loves all of us the same. How fun is that? No competitions or emphasis on what makes you so special. He eliminated that pettiness when he died on the cross for our sins. It was the great leveler that gave each individual that has ever been or ever will be the same unequivocal opportunity for redemption. Of all the world’s laws, treaties, pacts, covenants, and alliances I don’t know any that compares to him dying on the cross so that each and every one of us can have a shot at eternal life.
The world is a finicky place. Trends change with time. What is considered special today is merely a spinoff from yesterday. In our world, there will always be someone who shines brighter, looks better, and performs superior. God just wants us to be who he created us to be, to love fully, and practice mercy joyfully. That journey will look different for each of us but at the end of our lives, it will be what determines our admission into the great Kingdom of God. Being ourselves is a good thing, but it’s not the true measure of who gets in and who doesn’t. That’s always going to be love. It’s not ambiguous and it’s not unique. It is the way, the truth, and the life. “My father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2). The place has been prepared. It is open to all of us and no doubt, it beats dorm living.
I really do love thinking about how God’s love for each of us is boundless and unconditional. Isn’t that so different than all of the parameters the world puts on us?
Read last week’s post: The Value of Life: An Unexpected Blessing in the Middle of the Storm