I have lots of great memories from my childhood. There was the day I became a big sister for the first time, or when I was told a third sibling was on the way. I remember laughing until I cried on a family holiday a few years later as the three of us attempted to fool our parents into pushing back bedtime, or, some time later still, visiting Legoland during a thunderstorm and enjoying the vacant rides despite the downpour.
But other memories remain etched in my mind for the wrong reason; because they scarred me. One of my most vivid memories of my childhood features a trip to the dentist.
I had never enjoyed visiting the dentist but I think it was this experience that turned my dislike into fear. As I began adolescence, I faced the problem that I had too many teeth for the space available in my top set, with some teeth overlapping others. The solution? To have eight teeth removed during one visit, with the promise of braces to follow.
I recall it vividly: sitting in the chair with fists clenched to stop my hands from shaking; the dentist explaining what he was about to do; coming closer and closer with the needle, ready to numb my gums… and I ran! I leapt up out of the dentist’s chair, raced along the corridor and locked myself in the bathroom. While I barricaded myself in there for the next ten minutes, the dentist agreed with my Mum that the best solution was for me to return another day and have the teeth extracted under general anaesthetic instead.
And so my fear of the dentist was established.
I could never understand people who were not phased by a trip to the dentist; I would have to psych myself up for days beforehand (I sometimes still do…) Why were others not as traumatised as I was? And why on earth would someone wish to become one?!
Well, I’m now finding out. My friend of 15yrs+ is currently studying dentistry and – get this – absolutely loving it. Say what?!
She enthusiastically tells me about the tasks she’s performing in the clinic. She sends me pictures of the dentures she has carefully crafted. She explains that she’s so tired because she barely slept during her week-long placement in a dental surgery; she was just so excited to be there. Her eager face even features on her dentistry school’s website.
I don’t even begin to understand why she has such a fascination with dentistry, but I’m glad that she does. Her passion for something that holds so little importance or desire for me only demonstrates how necessary it is that she pursues that passion whole-heartedly. For if no-one was passionate about dentistry, the oral health of the world would suffer.
As I’ve journeyed with my friend through her studies and often joked at how she could be so excited about something I fear, I actually awe at our contrasting passions and thank God for that. It has highlighted for me, once again, the creativity of our Creator and how He designed us all so uniquely and perfectly. But, even more so, how essential it is that we pursue those personal passions for His glory.
In 1 Corinthians 12 the Apostle Paul describes the global church as a body. He writes, “But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”” (1 Corinthians 12:18-21)
He reminds us, here, that we are called to work together as one, but to operate in our individual abilities, giftings, passions. It is no accident that we have been created with different skills and interests than that of our friends because God has much to accomplish through us! The very way we were created was intentionally aligned with the purpose that God calls us to.
So if you are unsure how God wants to use you, first consider how He has made you and what your heart burns for. That will be your first clue.
If you are feeling discouraged and caught comparing yourself to others, you can stop now. Because God’s plan for you looks nothing like that of those around you. And that’s a good thing.
If your current passions do not align with the Word of God, then take some time out and seek God. As you draw closer to Him, He will heal your heart and swap destructive passions for those that will fuel His call on your life.
God calls each of us to walk the path that He has laid out before us. That is why it is unrivaled; because no-one else can do what God has purposed for you to do. You do not need to be concerned about someone else stealing what was intended for you, for God is sovereign over all things and gives and removes as He pleases for the greater good. There is no use in seeking to copy the life or path of another, because yours won’t look like their’s. Instead seek God in all things; trust Him with your whole heart and don’t depend on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct you (Prov. 3:5-6).
The only person capable of forfeiting your unrivaled road is you. The enemy seeks to derail us by distracting us with lies, comparison, disappointment, or condemning words of worthlessness, but instead we must press into God’s Word and allow His voice to speak louder.
When God calls us, He doesn’t call us alone. He promises to walk with us, every step of the way. He positions people along our path to encourage us and build us up. He meets every need and equips us for the tasks He calls us to. Our job is to remain close to Him and walk with courage and boldness.
This week, don’t fall into the world’s trap of comparison, but instead embrace your own passions, your unique opportunities, celebrate your gifts, talents, and abilities, and use them to glorify the One who carefully selected them and wrapped them all up in you.