Dec. 8. Prompt. Beautifully Different: Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.
I remember the hardest essay I ever had to write was in the 11th grade, and my English teacher Mrs. Obar, after showing us the Christmas classic It’s A Wonderful Life, asked us to step into George Bailey’s shoes and imagine how the lives of others would be affected if we had never existed. For at least 15 minutes, I stared at my piece of loose-leaf paper. Nothing came to mind. Eventually I put some thoughts down so I wouldn’t completely fail the assignment (and I probably got a pretty decent grade, maybe a B-) but I don’t remember it being anything spectacular. At that time in my life and for many years after, I wasn’t comfortable affirming my good characteristics. I usually felt icky that making such a list was a bit ego-centric or presumptuous. Or I (foolishly) believed that I wasn’t that different or extraordinary enough to do something that lights people up.
But in recent years, God–through the loving and nurturing support of family, friends, seminary, full-time ministry and counseling–has helped me see more clearly how I’ve been fearfully and wonderfully made.
So here goes. The things that make me wonderfully different and that gives others permission to do the same…
* I find tremendous insight about the triune God, faith, spirituality, church, religion, morality and ethics from TV shows (LOST, Glee, Fringe, Community, House, Chuck, Modern Family, The Simpsons); movies (Harry Potter series; Lord of the Rings Trilogy; Star Wars Saga; O Brother Where Art Thou?; Inception; Iron Man 2; The Dark Knight; The Shawshank Redemption; Raiders of the Lost Ark; Cool Hand Luke; Love Actually) and music (U2; The Avett Brothers; Coldplay; Foo Fighters; The Killers; The Indigo Girls; Brett Dennen; Michael Franti; Bob Dylan; The Beatles; Johnny Cash; Robert Plant; CCR) and comic books (Superman; Spider-Man; Daredevil; JLA; X-Men; Fantastic Four; Maus; AD After The Deluge; Green Lantern)
* I’m a comic book geek who goes to the comic book store once a month to pick-up new copies of Brightest Day and The Amazing Spider-Man. And sitting on a shelf in my office, amid my various church and theological books, are numerous graphic novels that focus on various spiritual-religious themes. I’m also a big fan of the Sunday comics. My all-time favorites are Calvin & Hobbes, Peanuts, and The Far Side. Of today’s strips, I enjoy Zits and Pearls Before Swine. To be completely honest, I’m a general pop-culture geek. Star Wars, Spider-Man and Indiana Jones Potato Heads sit on the tops of my bookshelves along with a LOST action figure of Mr. Eko. The O Brother Where Art Thou? movie poster hangs on a wall. On my bulletin board, I have ticket stubs from U2 concert in October 2009 and Eric Clapton/Roger Daltrey concert in 2010; gag gifts like “The Last Supper Dinner Mints” and “Wash Away Your Sins” towelette, and a reprint of Salvador Dali’s depiction of the Last Supper. On a window ledge sits a Bobblehead Jesus, a Jesus Action Figure and Jesus The Little Thinker Doll. I am a collector and wearer of T-shirts with pictures–Green Eggs and Ham; The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch (Monty Python & The Holy Grail); Marvel superheroes (Spider-Man, Wolverine, Thor, Silver-Surfer); U2 and Eric Clapton concert T-shirts; Montreat Youth Conference T-shirts, etc.
* I enjoy a good belly-laugh, especially while watching movies with Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Zack Galifianakis, Monty Python, or Mel Brooks; The Daily Show with Jon Stewart; Saturday Night Live skits and stand-up comedians like Eddie Izzard, George Carlin, Robin Williams, etc. I also have a goofy and twisted sense of humor. I like making people laugh and sharing laughter regardless if I or someone else has told the joke or done something silly or embarrassing.
* I like to write and preach and teach. I’m invigorated by good, deep conversations on faith, theology and culture that come out of those mediums or practices. I believe in empowering and inspiring others to passionately use the gifts God has given them to to be faithful disciples who serve those in need and who truly change the world in peaceful, loving and non-violent ways. I think I help create opportunities for people to follow God and shine the love in their hearts.
* I’m passionate about working with youth in the church and doing missions with members of the congregation regardless of age. My relationship with God and others is strengthened ten-fold through week-long youth conferences and mission trips during the summer, and the Adult International Mission Trip in the Fall.
*I care about people. I’m good at listening and showing empathy and understanding toward those in pain.
* I like to PLAY–disc golf and zany get-to-know-you and recreation games with youth and adults; with my daughter whether that be a fun round of Tickle Monster or racing toy cars or coloring; board games with my wife; video games on the Wii.
* I like stickers, Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies, rooting for The Auburn Tigers, drawing cartoons, photography and reading Rolling Stone magazine.
*I’ve got a goatee, a bowling ball of a belly but skinny arms and legs, soft hair and dimples that make all the ladies blush 🙂
And I think that about covers how beautifully different I am.