Posted by: Phoebe | November 26, 2009

“Special?!” Or Yes, You Are Uniquely Peculiar.

Each snowflake is unique.

My mother recently invited a friend from church over for tea. This lady is a single mother who grew up in our town, had lived elsewhere for many years and only recently returned to our town. She sweetly said she feels more comfortable in our church than in others she had attended in her past. We were grateful that she felt that way, because sometimes single parents would feel uncomfortable in a church full of intact families. We thanked God that he allowed our church, with all its flaws, to be a place of welcome to her.

As I was thinking about her, I thought about other people in our congregation. There are a couple of single guys over age 50 who work for a trash collection company. There is ascerbic Mr. H, quirky Mr. G, loquacious Ms. A. Our pastors are hard workers, faithful students and teachers of the Word, but neither of them have social charisma. In the college group there is an unusual collection of introverted, sometimes awkward geeks, with a high concentration of engineering students. There are divergent tastes in music. There are families who homeschool and families who send their kids to school. There’s me, teased by my siblings and friends for blunt things I say, passionate about marriage and family and classical music.

I would not say any of these people “ordinary” or “normal.” As I thought about it, I realized that everyone sometimes feels out of place. Each person has something “special” that sets him apart. Sometimes it is something we feel is negative– a personality trait or a sad history. We may feel out of place because we do not think we are capable or intelligent, do not have an exciting job, have a secret struggle, or are not married as we would like. Sometimes that which sets us apart is a passion for something that is good, but that does not seem to fit in with most of the church, such as my love of classical music. Indeed, at times we (including myself) can be prideful about the things we feel set us apart, our career specialties, our smarts, or our popularity. We alienate ourselves from others in making those things too much a part of our identity.

It is good to avoid the word “special” most of the time, because it is so overused that it no longer conveys meaning. It is more significant to tell why something is unique and valuable, than to describe it as special. Mr. Rogers solemnly told millions of children, “you are special,” and that was good of him. But millions of children have also been put in “special ed.” What is so special about that? Today, however, I had a glimpse of the truth behind Mr. Rogers’ cliche. God has made billions of people in the course of history, and he intended each one to reflect his image in a unique way. In the words of George MacDonald,

Not only … has each man his individual relation to God, but each man has his peculiar relation to God. He is to God a peculiar being, made after his own fashion, and that of no one else. Hence he can worship God as no man else can worship him.

Each person is peculiar. Another word for special, a word that captures the quirks as well as the talents. I am glad I am peculiar, and that others are too. I am glad I am part of the body of Christ, which is the place that God designed to shape us, with all our quirks. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another,” (Prov. 27:17) and so we sharpen up each other’s strengths and trust our God-who-disciplines to sand down our weaknesses. The modern-day Samaritan, the talkative one, the one with depression, the stay-at-home mother, the one whose marriage has fallen apart, the computer geek — we are all seen by a God who knows our individual peculiarities and loves us with an everlasting love. You are special.



  1. 1- Reminders
    2- People
    EQUALS (add these together)
    Whether we are reminded by our friends, love ones, maybe by people who disagree with us, or our experiences, these remainders are unique in informing us on how to live, on what to be grateful for, etc.

  2. PhoebeJoy,

    I’ve browsed through your blog a bit tonight. You are a very gifted writer. This is an excellent post.

    I have often thought about the diverse mix of individuals in my own congregation. We are all so different, indeed peculiar, and yet we are joined together in our local church and for eternity through our common mediator and Savior. Some of my closest friends in the church share very few of my own peculiar interests and life experiences. Likewise, I share very little of their own. Yet, our friendships have grown and progressed well beyond those of my best friendships with non-believers (which I also think are important) who share similar interests.

    The rock on which believer’s stand, Christ crucified for sinners and risen from the dead, is the stable foundation that will eternally endure all peculiarities of hobby, habit, education, experience, race, culture, etc., “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain” is the eternal song of the multitude of diverse redeemed of the Lord. (Revelation 5).

    On Christ the solid rock WE (peculiar and special people) stand. All other ground is sinking sand.


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