Everyone is Special, But…

“You are special, special, everyone is special, everyone in his or her own way.”
My girls were watching Barney yesterday morning, and the ‘special’ song came on. Then I heard Barney explain “You are the only you in the whole wide world.”

Barney is just a kids show I know–but he reflects the culture’s emphasis on ‘being the only you’ and that ‘everyone is special in his or her own way!’ Nothing wrong with good old fashioned self-worth and a healthy bit of individuality, but why are we not ‘special’ because of the family we belong to or because of the community we are a part of? (Or, of course, because we belong to the Body of Christ?) Why am I only special when I am me?

We are made for the whole, not for ourselves. We were created for communion with God and our fellows, not for self-esteem or self-anything!

10 thoughts on “Everyone is Special, But…

  1. Time for a little feet washing. If it was good enough for the LORD, and we’re supposed to follow. I take it that I’m unique in the sense of being uniquely suited to serve where I am, I’m the chess piece on the right square.

  2. Amen!

    And while we’re at it, we’re also only made complete in community. Even if I become fully the person God created me to be, I am even more complete than that when I am functioning well in community with others. Functioning at my fullest potential, I am still human and cannot do it all and therefore must (MUST!) function in community.

  3. Why am I only special when I am me?

    Because emulation of man is idolatry, a sin against God, and in effect expresses dissatisfaction with the way He created you.

  4. Maybe I should explain. I have gone to churches in the past where everything outside of the church “culture” was seen as evil. Classical music and Opera, Art and of course all movies, Fr. Neo, were all of the devil.Every young person was expected to attend Bible college, every singer was supposed to sing gospel, and every artist was supposed to draw sweet little pictures of Jesus leading sheep and coddling children.

    But what if Jesus gave me a beautiful voice so that I could reach the Opera singer?
    What if he gave me the gift of art so that I could reach the avante- garde? They aren’t listening to Pat Robertson or any other members of the Christian Clone society. We were created in His image and likeness and His expressions of Himself are as numerous as there are individuals – and honestly I really don’t think He is running out of ideas.

  5. But with low self-esteem it’s sometimes difficult to allow oneself to be included in the Body and community. It took me several years to realize I didn’t have to be “as good as” everyone else to belong. And now I know I serve an important part in the Body (even if it’s as the pinky toe).

  6. I think Fr. Neo said that Iraneaus said, “God’s glory is Man fully alive!” But, man can only be fully alive in relationship with God and God has a rule, “Where two are three are gathered together in my name, I will be there also.” Hmmm. Catch 22. I can’t be fully me without God and I can’t have God’s presence and support alone.

  7. Yes – I fully support the idea that we have to be in community. I love my faith community and wouldn’t want to be without it. And like any REAL family it isn’t always easy to be a part of it. But after many years I am learning that differences and conflict are present wherever there is a sense of true community. It really takes true family for me to feel safe enough to honestly be myself and let the group know how I feel about something without fear of rejection or censure. The greater the bond the greater testing it is able to endure.
    In a family where that trust is not present you find individuals who are inhibited and distrustful, unable to express their emotions and to fully be who God has created them to be, which in the end robs the group of enjoying the gift of the fullness of God’s expression as it was intended to be through that individual. Individuality should not be seen as a threat to the group.

    If God gave me a pallet of thirty colors would I really want to paint with just one? Can you create a symphony with just one instrument? Just one note?

  8. Well, it’s been awhile since my kids were Barney watchers, but I seem to remember a celebration of the diversity of different family types, too. Also, a celebration of friends in another song. So, this celebration of individual worth doesn’t seem to me like a complete endorsement of the hyper-individualism of parts of Western culture when it is placed in context of the whole Barney philosophy.
    Rather, kids hear all kinds of negative messages early : You aren’t as good as your sister; you should be more like so and so, etc. The low self-esteem this causes leads to giving up in school, etc. The Special Song is to counter that.
    There is also a deliberate attempt to help young children value diversity: different races, different shapes to families, different cultures and languages; different levels of physical ability (wheelchairs, etc.). While not specifically Christian in presentation, this seems to me to be very congruent with Gospel values (e.g. Gal. 3:27-28, etc.). In fact, we ought to be embarrassed that Barney, Sesame Street and the like present far more a rainbow community than does your average American church, self-segregated by race, class, etc.

    Maybe we should appreciate individual specialness and diversity in church more.

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