The motto is everywhere. We see it through the young celebrities on TV who fight for causes against bullying, which is a good cause. However, one of their approaches to this cause is through attempting to make the victims of bullying feel better by encouraging them to “just be you.”
We hear it from our best friends and family members. If we were about to go out with that special someone for the first time, take a job interview, make a public announcement, or get married . . . we would probably get a reassuring pat on the back that everything will be okay with instructions to “just be yourself.”
Our culture is embracing the same motto . . . embrace everyone just the way they are, accept ourselves for who we are, and “just be ourselves.”
That is good advice . . . to a certain extent.
Just as the “just be yourself” motto can be inspiring, it can also be dangerous. I see our culture constantly trying to shove this motto through entertainment, movies, and the media. They are trying to push an “anything-goes” doctrine.
There are times when it is not good to accept the way we personally are, or even the way other people are if that way is WRONG. That is called “Toleration.”
As Christians, we should not tolerate. We should stand up for what we believe in.
What NOT to accept
Does a new home owner who buys an old house that has missing cupboards, rotting wooden floors, and a leakage, accept it because that’s just the way it is? No. A good home owner sees its potential, works to improve it, and makes it the most functional house it can be.
Does a parent never discipline an unruly child because that’s just who the child is? No. A good parent teaches the child right from wrong while focusing on encouraging the child’s good qualities.
Should a woman never take care of her body, wear a little makeup, feminine apparel, or fix her hair ever again because she has “accepted her looks?” No. Accepting her looks means striving to look the best she can be, without envying other women, or taking changes to an unhealthy extreme.
That’s the problem with “being ourselves.” It can be taken the wrong way! If our characteristics are made up of cruelness, coldness, laziness, irresponsibility, and immorality . . . we shouldn’t refrain from change because we think “this is just the way I am!”
What about this motto instead? It is not acceptable to accept our behavior if God does not accept it. What does God accept? He accepts anyone who repents and follows Him. But then He expects us to “go and sin no more.” When we become Christians, we become Christ’s examples. We must put away our old selves to create new ones. We must set aside selfishness to become selfless. We must have LESS of us and ask for MORE of God.
What TO accept
But there is another side to this. We could be carrying the burden of guilt. We might feel that we’ll never be enough. We mistake ourselves for not pleasing other people, when in reality, the main ones we are not pleasing are ourselves. This is when we need our self-esteem to be raised. This is when we can only feel completed through Christ.
But some of us mistake this solution. We might raise our pride instead. On the contrary, God asks for humility. He wants us to recognize ourselves as sinners. Only that way can we truly appreciate the sacrifice that was made for our sins and see everyone else as equals. But being humble does not mean being insecure. When we “accept God” instead of the person we used to be, we allow the virtues of God to shine through us, and as children of the King, we are placed in the highest status position we can receive. We become royalty. And then, and only then, will we be made complete. God loves us for who we are. But He makes us to be the BEST THAT WE CAN BE.
The YES in being ourselves, is being who God CREATED us to be. We don’t wanna be wannabe’s! We don’t want to be clones. We don’t want to be someone else. We don’t wanna be a certain celebrity! Let me rephrase that (many do, but we shouldn’t!) A girl may not get to be a particular celebrity. But that celebrity doesn’t get to be that particular girl. God has given us unique appearances. He has given everyone a unique personality. He has given us all unique circumstances to create a unique story. He has assigned us to do different works for His kingdom. In His eyes, we are all beautiful the way we were created. We glorify Him by bringing out the best in what He has given us. And when we bring out the best in others that is how we bring out the best in ourselves.
We weren’t born that way
It doesn’t make sense for either a saint or a serial killer to say “I was born that way.” Babies aren’t born with the inclination to either save the world or destroy it. Babies are innocent and new to life. All their decisions and characteristics come later, as does the ability to change.
We’re not STUCK with who we are. We DECIDE who we are
Yes, I believe that God destined us to all to have different personalities. I believe that God assigned us with different gifts to work at different tasks. I believe that God created some people short, some tall, some dark, some light, some stocky, some narrow, some with blue eyes, some with brown, some with blond hair, some with black, some with light skin, some with dark . . . and God saw that it was GOOD!
Thank goodness we aren’t all the same. God knew that would be boring. We should be happy that we’re different and there’s no one else out there that’s exactly the same. YOU are one of a kind. YOU cannot be replaced. YOU ARE SPECIAL!
But this does not mean YOU are perfect
We don’t tell the homeless man that it’s okay if he’s not willing to work when that’s the reason he’s homeless. We don’t tell him that he’s no good either. We point out all the work possibilities, inspire him, give him hope, and encourage him to do better. (And maybe give him a little charity while we’re at it).
We don’t tell the out-of-control little girl that it’s okay if she loses her temper. We don’t tell her that she is going to grow up to become a wild woman either. We tell her to change her attitude and we encourage her to use her passionate spirit for the greater good.
It is selfish to encourage someone to live in a way that’s wrong so that you don’t offend them. We should always influence people for a SELFLESS reason! We don’t try to bully someone and make them feel hopeless. We encourage people on their strengths, and if necessary, correct them on their weaknesses . . . including ourselves.
We don’t tell ourselves that we’re always going to have these problems and it’s too late to change. We don’t tell ourselves that we’re worthless either. Should we just be ourselves? We should be the BEST of ourselves!
We don’t accept everything about ourselves. We BELIEVE in ourselves. That’s true dignity.
That’s how we should “just be ourselves.”