A few weeks ago I was talking to a guy that I had just met about Australia and all the differences between it and the United States. We were introducing ourselves and my accent was blatantly obvious, so he asked where I was from, if I skied (of course), if I’d ever surfed, and all sorts of other introductory questions. When I asked if he surfed at all, his response was somewhere along the lines of, “Of course! You have to.” I asked him what that meant and he said that everyone where he’s from is a stereotype. If you’re a guy, you have to surf, you have to hang with the crowd, and you have to dress the same as everyone else.
That’s basically the same idea we have everywhere, no? Everyone builds up these perfect pictures of what “ideal” looks like. My sister wrote a paper about body image and the heavy influence that society has on body image. She outlined the different identities portrayed and the different social media outlets that people often use to guide their own appearance. Identity is way too often found within social media, magazines, movies, and celebrities. You are not meant to find your identity in those things! You are, however, meant to find your identity in Christ.
No matter who you are, God knows you. He calls you by name. In his eyes you are:
BELOVED: “THE LORD APPEARED TO US IN THE PAST SAYING: “I HAVE LOVED YOU WITH AN EVERLASTING LOVE; I HAVE DRAWN YOU WITH UNFAILING KINDNESS.'” – JEREMIAH 31:3
SET APART: “BUT YOU ARE A CHOSEN PEOPLE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, GOD’S SPECIAL POSSESSION, THAT YOU MAY DECLARE THE PRAISES OF HIM WHO CALLED YOU OUT OF DARKNESS INTO HIS WONDERFUL LIGHT.” – 1 PETER 2:9
FORGIVEN: “‘HE HIMSELF BORE OUR SINS’ IN HIS BODY ON THE CROSS, SO THAT WE MIGHT DIE TO SINS AND LIVE FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS; ‘BY HIS WOUNDS YOU HAVE BEEN HEALED.'” – 1 PETER 2:24
RIGHTEOUS: “GOD MADE HIM WHO HAD NO SIN TO BE SIN FOR US, SO THAT IN HIM WE MIGHT BECOME THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD.” – 2 CORINTHIANS 5:21
A MASTERPIECE: “FOR WE ARE GOD’S HANDIWORK, CREATED IN CHRIST JESUS TO DO GOOD WORKS, WHICH GOD PREPARED IN ADVANCE FOR US TO DO.” – EPHESIANS 2:10
DELIGHTED IN: “THE LORD YOUR GOD IS WITH YOU, THE MIGHTY WARRIOR WHO SAVES., HE WILL TAKE GREAT DELIGHT IN YOU; IN HIS LOVE HE WILL NO LONGER REBUKE YOU, BUT WILL REJOICE OVER YOU WITH SINGING.” – ZEPHANIAH 3:17
It may be hard to identify with those titles, but you have to recognize that despite whatever flaws you think you have, God created you intentionally. He knew you before you were in your mother’s womb and he had your life planned out well before your mom even knew about you. He doesn’t make mistakes, so the way that He made you was done purposefully and with nothing other than love.
Be confident in who you are and who God has created you to be. You are an ambassador of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20) and you represent all of His beautiful magnificence. Be bold in your interactions. Stand firm in what you believe. Don’t be swayed by popular opinion or common ways of living. You are a beautifully unique individual that needs to be recognized for the individualized way that God has made you.
God doesn’t make stereotypes; He makes individuals.