Have you ever heard anyone say, “My ultimate dream is to be average.” I haven’t. I don’t know anyone who’s born with a desire to be mediocre or to accomplish nothing in life. If you’re like me, you want to stand out, be special, the best you can be, distinctive.

Well, that is also God’s desire for you. He does nothing haphazard, without purpose. It’s all meticulously planned. He determined our looks, personality, heritage, intelligence, and gender. So that means there is something specific He wants you to accomplish as you, with your blend of abilities. It may take awhile to know what it is, to develop into that you, and be totally comfortable with your uniqueness.

I’m quite familiar with the journey. The struggle to accept my distinctiveness began early for me. Maybe it’s because I have seven brothers and no sisters. My mother said she went to the hospital each time hoping for a girl. On the seventh try her prayer was answered. I was born.
Distinctly You -- How To Thrive In Your Uniqueness and Become Distinctly You
Being the only girl among so many boys, made me special from day one. But in just a few short years, without any coaching, I started secretly comparing my looks and complexion with brother #6 (Darrell), my girl cousins, classmates, and church girls.

I noticed that I looked nothing like Darrell. He was extremely fair. I was very dark. He was adorable. I was very average looking. One day my mother told me a story that confirmed my insecurity. She said when I was born there was a steady stream of traffic to our house. Visitors would come, look at me, whisper to each other, and then leave without saying much.

At first she thought it was because the Martins finally had a girl. Then she found out it was about much more. Because I looked nothing like four-year-old Darrell, the one closest to me in age, and I was considerably darker than most of my brothers and parents, some visitors were questioning my paternity. My mother said one person asked, “What is Rev. Martin saying?” She answered, “When he gets worried, I’ll let you know.” Of course my father wasn’t saying anything because he knew I was his daughter. Plus, he thought I resembled his deceased mother.

At times I wondered, why did God make me look so different from my mother? I thought she was so pretty and my father handsome. When I looked at myself, I could not see my mother in me. This hurt. I told no one about this ongoing dialogue except God. I struggled year after year with this inward battle.

I compared myself with my friends in grade school. I knew which ones were favored because they were pretty. I knew which ones got invited to the popular birthday parties because they were cute. I admired the church girls who got asked out because they were fine. I was never in these exclusive groups.

When your focus is always on what’s "wrong" with you,” you diminish what’s "right” about you. That’s what I did for years. Even though I was soaring academically, my focus was on my shortcomings.

No matter how put together we may look like on the outside, we all face challenges and roadblocks to being the person we desperately want to be, the person God created us to be. All my life I’ve been pressing through the barriers, purposing to never lose hope. I’ve discovered that God will help us when this is our determined focus.

In order to thrive in your uniqueness and be distinct, you need to be aware of what I call "Distinctly You Blockers" and then overpower them with "Distinctly You Builders." I don’t claim to know everything about them, but I believe that what I’ve learned can help you stay in the race (or get back in it), get revved up, and win it. These are proven principles I've applied in my own life.

An excerpt from "Distinctly You" by Cheryl Martin. To learn more, visit cherylmartin.org.
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