Monday, June 15, 2009

Unique

I've been pondering the concept of "unique" recently, fueled by my observation of my own three sons, specifically the way they come from the same gene pool but are so different in so many ways.

Here's Tobin, for example...
...hanging out at Grandma's house...
...being a serious little guy as he "talks" on the telephone (the same toy telephone I played with when I was young). He's unique for many reasons, of course; but if nothing else, the way he scoots sets him apart in our family since neither Josiah nor David did that. In fact, it sets him apart from most other toddlers in the world and garners him a lot of attention, whether we're with our church or at a friend's house or in the bowling alley. People look and point and smile and laugh at the funny way he gets around; then they talk about how there's no way in the world they would be able to scoot like that! :)

And then there's David, our little monkey, not content to simply sit on the swing to enjoy it, but preferring to hang from the top bar. If there's a way to include more physical activity as he goes through life, he'll do it.
If there's a chance of spending more time with people, he'll pursue it. He lavishes love verbally through long speeches of "I love you from here to the airplane to Antarctica to the airplane to California to this wall to the door over there," and so forth (and I always say, "WOW! That's a lot of love!"). Recently he's asked some deep questions about God, heaven, hell, and who would take care of him if something happened to me, Jeff, and Josiah. He's a sunshiny boy, but there are deep waters in his heart.

And dear Josiah. He and David share many of the same interests (Star Wars, for example), but approach life in such different ways. Josiah is more careful, more conscientious about doing things correctly, more concerned that everyone is doing well--and behaving properly! :) Josiah often sings his heart out during church services and particularly loves the song, "Here I Am to Worship." (David, by contrast, is usually looking around for the Sacra family...or anyone else who will smile at him...while we're singing!) :) Josiah still says "zizzers" instead of "scissors" and LOVES to play with Legos. He has eagerly taken on the responsibility of feeding the animals this summer; and in return we're paying him a dollar a week. He's excited about earning money and being able to buy more Star Wars stuff (of course!). :)

All of them are so precious--opposite from each other in some ways, but unspeakably beloved to us.

So this concept of "unique" keeps popping up in my head; and the first thing I think about is that if this baby is a boy, it's not "another boy." I know technically it would be correct to say that a son would be another boy; but to me, that almost makes it sound like it's a duplicate of the three previous children we've had. I can almost hear people saying in a disappointed voice, "Oh, another boy for the Fishers." What??? This child, if it's a son, is not a carbon copy of Josiah or David or Tobin. This child is UNIQUE. This child has never existed in the world before and has fingerprints that no one has ever seen. This child will do and say and be things that no one has ever done or said or been. This child's personality is like no other's--not like Josiah's, not like David's, not like Tobin's, not like anyone's. This child, if it happens to be of the male gender, is not "another boy." It's our son, UNIQUELY created by our Heavenly Father; and the fact that we happen to have three other male offspring doesn't mean that we've somehow "been there, done that" with this child. His life is a new book, ready to be written--a fresh adventure, ready to be lived--a blank slate, ready to be filled with love and affirmation for the infinitely special individual that he is.

David, it seems, has been trying to sort out who he is in relation to Josiah recently. If Josiah gets affirmed for various talents and abilities that David doesn't currently have (like reading, for example), where does that leave David? As he asks questions about what makes him special, my heart aches and I just want to hug him and squeeze him until all doubts about his unique place in our family and in the world are squished out of him. He's no less special because he's the second son. He's not just "another boy." He's our David, and there's no one like him in the whole world!

The second path my thoughts have traveled as I've thought about uniqueness (and this concept I find harder to explain) is how, as a young person (preteen, teenager, even early 20s), I--sometimes unconsciously--bought into the idea that value comes from being LIKE someone else, someone whom I or others deemed valuable. I didn't understand how God could create us so differently, know us so intimately, and truly treasure our differences. I thought that fitting in and being like the "somebodies" of the world was the way to be worthy and loved. I didn't, however, take this to an obvious extreme, giving in to peer pressure and being concerned with the latest fashions and watching the most popular TV shows and being in the "cool" crowd...because in my heart, I put down girls like that and didn't consider them worthy of imitation. The people who did have my admiration, however, were often my measuring stick of how good I was based on how closely I came to living like them.

On the one hand, there is good in that. After all, the easiest way to learn is to see and follow someone's example; and the New Testament is full of references to imitating the example of great men and women of the faith. I don't plan to stop doing that!

However, as a parent, I now realize how God can revel in our differences and rejoice in the ways we are not the same! I would never expect Josiah to suddenly stop being himself and start acting just like David...and vice versa. I would never want Tobin to grow up thinking that in order to measure up, he had to become a carbon copy of his big brothers. God, who made us out of his infinite creativity and variety, doesn't enjoy looking down and seeing us trying so hard to be like the people around us--in essence, destroying the very seed of uniqueness that He placed within us. His heart is more than big enough to love and value each of us for who He made us to be, not for our ability to blend in with those nearby.

I often think about this when I'm in a crowd setting, particularly with young people. At the county fair, for example, I see all these teenagers milling about, obviously insecure, obviously trying to fit in and not do anything to stand out as a fool, obviously dressed very similarly to the people they're hanging out with, obviously concerned with being LIKE their peers. And I think to myself and wish I could say to them, "You are all so beautiful! You with the blond hair and blue eyes and round face, you're gorgeous; don't think to yourself that you'd be better with an oval face. You with the brown hair and very long legs, you're gorgeous; don't stoop over, thinking that you're too tall and wishing you were short and petite like that tiny cheerleader that just walked by. You with the dark skin and you with the pale skin, you're gorgeous; don't wish that you could somehow be the perfect shade of khaki, as if skin color really meant anything at all. You're all so very beautiful!"

In life, there is no beauty queen. Somebody gets to decide who is Miss America or Miss World or Miss Universe or whatever, but there is NO ONE that is really "the fairest in the land." I could never say who I think the most beautiful woman is because beauty comes in such a variety of shapes, sizes, coloring, etc. (The most handsome man, on the other hand, is easy. Without a doubt, Jeff wins my vote in that contest!) :) I can't even choose what kind of flower I like best because there are so many beautiful kinds...or what my favorite piece of music is...or the prettiest place I've ever been...or my favorite kind of candy!

And I could never, ever say which child of mine was the most handsome or the best or my favorite because I love them all so much--not in spite of their differences, but because of them. Uniqueness is a gift--not something to be repressed, but something to be cherished and celebrated.

When my children hit their young teen years, I'm going to sit them down and read this to them until they "get it." On second thought, I'm going to start the lecture early, so it will be ingrained in them. Tomorrow morning seems like a good time to begin!! :)

5 comments:

Morning said...

On the subject of "unique" children, I do think that although many of the differences in personality are genetic, there is a great deal to be said of parents who recognise the uniqueness of each child, and adjust parenting styles, encouragement and activities to suit each child, and nurture their strengths and interests. It's not an easy thing to do, but is very important and rewarding.

Elizabeth said...

What a lovely post. You are so very right. What blessed children you have to have such a great mother and father to teach them these things! A verse comes to mind when I think of you. Proverbs 31

:) Thanks for sharing Davene. You always encourage me in everything you are doing and thinking!

Emily Joy said...

Absolutely! Ice tea and eggs don't sound good to you? :)

~Emily Joy

Christin said...

Exactly. Our "Girl #4" is very different from her sisters. She even has a wayyy different look.

I have to say, if you do have "another boy", I KNOW you'll LOVE it. The dynamic of four same-gender sibs is beyond precious. There are just no words.

Sally said...

Thanks for this post. It gave me something to think about as I pondered our own little people, and people in general.