Learning to love ourselves, to be humble enough to admit our limitations, to truly appreciate the gifts our differences bring while also being willing to accept help and healing for the most painful ones, gives us greater mental, emotional, and spiritual health. […]
We are so often encouraged to fit into the boxes of academic achievement, intellectual prowess, recognizable achievements, personality profiles, status, money, power, external significance—to perform, to fit in the box, to be acceptable. Yet our wonderful God loves us unconditionally, now and forever. We do not have to work to please Him. He values us for what is inside our hearts—our character and integrity, our ability to love, to be faithful, to help others, and to show compassion. Our individual personalities are a gift of His design so that we might add color and variety to the world. And He can use our unique combination of circumstances—even the painful ones like mental illness—for our good and His glory.
Sally Clarkson, Different
One of the most romantic and wonderful things about my husband is that from the very beginning of our relationship he has valued me for my character and heart more than for my intelligence and knowledge. I’ve always been smart and been perceived as smart, and while it wasn’t a difficult appearance to maintain (because, at least when it comes to academics, I am quite smart), it always left me feeling somewhat empty when that was all people would see. Intelligence was a gift, a talent, but not me. So when I found this man who loved me for who I was, who saw all the other aspects of my character and personality and delighted in them, I was profoundly and deeply touched. It helped me understand God’s unconditional love; it helped me begin to love and accept myself as God made me; it is helping me now learn to love my children with that kind of acceptance and delight in all their uniqueness – even when those unique traits are difficult to understand or tame.
Different is a book written by a mother and son together, telling the story of a different and difficult childhood and the love and acceptance that carried their family through their struggles. After reading the first chapter (available here) and listening to an interview with both authors on the Read Aloud Revival podcast (available here), I’ve decided that I need to get my hands on the whole book and read the rest of it! I want to learn how to love my children as they are, while still guiding them towards maturity; I want to learn how to help them flourish best without coddling or overprotecting them. I want to stop listening to the critiques and judgments of the ignorant world and start listening to the needs and dreams of my children’s hearts: it was God who made them with those needs, God who gave them their deepest longings and most beautiful dreams, and I am only His steward, raising these children for a time, so who am I to ignore their truest selves or demand that they be other than He created them to be?