God saw all that He had made, and it was very good indeed. Evening came and then morning: the sixth day.” Genesis 1:31
It was a profound statement. It was1967 and I was in junior high. In Jacksonville that meant grades 7-9 and it meant a whole different world from elementary school. For the first time we went to separate classes and actually got to choose some of our food at lunch in the cafeteria. I remember, for a dime, you could actually buy a bowl of french fries. While they weren’t anything like McDonald’s, I do believe they were potatoes, and they were long and skinny.
It may have been the sixties, but there were rules. For the girls skirts and dresses had to be a certain length. For the guys your hair could only be so long and then there were the big three: shirt tucked in, wear a belt, and socks. Break those and you and the principal had a date. By the time I was in the ninth grade, things were relaxing some and that included the big three. On Fridays, boys were allowed to untuck their shirts, not wear a belt, and not wear socks. Holy moly, what was the world coming to? Looking back, the cool thing was to take the socks that you weren’t wearing and put them hanging out of your rear pant’s pocket. Every Friday, my shirt was out, my belt stayed home, and my socks were flapping in the breeze. Do you know why? It was cool…and I wanted to be cool. I wanted to be in. I wanted to be accepted.
As you know, through the years the trends have changed, styles have come and gone, and so have the labels. In high school Gold Toe socks were coveted and so were Gant shirts. We couldn’t afford either but when I joined the Air Force and could shop at the Base Exchange, they carried both and both became part of my world. I was cool. I was in. I was accepted. Some things never change, and this is one of those. There was always something that someone was wearing that if you had it, you just knew you would feel cool…accepted…part of the “in” crowd. When I came to my current church, it was shirts with ponies and shoes named “Crocs.” Whatever the newest label, and there was always one, peer pressure and the desire to be cool, accepted, and in, pushed and pulled. It seemed I always wanted to be what someone else was.
Thankfully, some of that has changed. Ponies and crocs aren’t really that cool anymore, and I’m starting to realize that a label doesn’t define who I am. I.Am.Me. In fact, my four favorite shirts are from Walmart and cost a grand total of $9.88 each. There’s nothing on the pocket—they are just plain shirts which is pretty cool, because I define them…they don’t define me.
I read something this morning that was just profound. Here it is. Are you ready? “Each person was born an original; no one should die a copy.” Wow. It goes like this. Somewhere in heaven, God came up with a design plan for me. He wrote the design and then declared it an original and just right. In fact, in Genesis 1:31, the Bible says, “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good indeed.” And do you know what? That includes me and that includes you. There is not another me or you, anywhere, and that was intentional. I don’t need to be you and you don’t need to be me. We just need to be who God made us. Sure, fashion labels are fine, and I’m even sure there is a perfect weight and height, but those don’t dictate who we are…God does.
In the years that God gives me, I hope I will remember this. When the clock stops ticking, the heart stops beating, and you are having a chicken dinner somewhere in my honor, I hope someone will be able to say, “That Dewayne, he was an original. God broke the mold when He made him.” I don’t want to die a copy…I want to die an original.
Given my bent to be a people pleaser and desire to be cool, accepted and in, I’m sure that will be a challenge. Gratefully, my Dearest Daddy will be with me along the way to remind me that I am a custom-made job, and you are too. And, if I am wise enough to ask and listen, He will help me be me. Oh, and if I struggle, and I will, and you will too, just listen as He reassures us that, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne