“What do you see when you look at the water?” I asked my sister during Spring Break in Cocoa Beach.
“Sharks,” she said without hesitation. “And maybe some other toothy, scary creatures of the deep. Why, what do you see?”
“Water,” I said. “When I look at the water, I see water. Sparkling, sunlit waves of water, rolling peacefully toward the shore.”
“Hmm,” she said.
“Hmm,” I said.
There we were, two sisters from an identical gene pool, with two completely different ways of seeing the same thing.
Every one of us, even if we are alike in many ways, sees things differently. Think about the complexity of a strand of DNA. Now think about seven billion people on earth, each one with a different DNA combination. Whoa. It’s mind boggling that so many people can each have their own specific genetic makeup, totally different from anyone else’s. As a result of that genetic makeup, each person looks at life in his or her own unique way.
Michelangelo looked at a chunk of marble and saw David. Stephen Hawking looked at a jumble of numbers and saw Physics. Mark Twain looked at the Mississippi River and saw Huck and Jim. Babe Ruth looked at a baseball bat and saw home runs. And Nelson Mandela looked at division and saw reconciliation.
Now I know most of us will never impact the world the way these talented geniuses have, but we all have a certain reach. And if we’re all looking at the same things but seeing them differently, shouldn’t we also each have a different, unique role here on earth? Shouldn’t we take what we see and how we see it, and turn it into something purposeful? Shouldn’t we strive to do something positive based on the unique way we view the world? Let me answer that: YES.
The tricky part, for some of us, is to figure out why we see things the way we do, and what to do about it. Why are we introverted/extroverted? Why do we love/hate academics? Why are we artists or athletes? Why do we want to lead, or why do we want to follow? And why have we been given this particular set of abilities?
Here’s a suggestion: forget the category others have put you in and start over. Discover yourself by looking within. Shut down the voices of anyone that thinks they have you all figured out. Don’t let someone tell you that because you like math, you can’t also like English, or because you like history, you won’t like science. Don’t let them say that because you’re an athlete you’re not going to be artistic. Go ahead, bust out of the stereotypical boxes society has created and allow yourself to be you. You are your own unique combo of DNA, remember?
And, please, for the sake of all us terrible test takers, move above and beyond the standardized questionnaires that try to tell you who you are and what you are forever meant to be. You know you better than anyone else. What do you feel passionate about? Why do you feel passionate about it? What do you wish you could do that you’ve never allowed yourself to do because you’re afraid someone will laugh or you might fail? Dig deep and pull out those hidden desires, those hidden treasures. They are in there somewhere, waiting to be uncovered. Bring them to the surface and embrace them. And then get to work.
Work on your passion. Spend time to develop it. Aim to perfect it. And once you have put in some real effort and you know a little about what you’re doing, GO AHEAD AND DO IT. And know that you will fail. And succeed. And fail, and succeed again. Because that’s what we humans do. All of us. Even those amazing people I mentioned before. They all had failures to go along with their success. But they all kept trying, working, and pushing forward because they saw something in their own unique way and wanted to share it with the rest of us.
Now the greater, more significant point is this: once you discover your passion, work to develop it, and ultimately put it out there, SURPRISE, you will be doing exactly what your Creator intended you to do. After all, HE is the one who gave you that unique way of seeing things and your resulting abilities. HE wants you to love your life’s work. And HE wants you to succeed. Really, He does. And in the process of developing yourself, HE will be glorified. How exciting! We get to do what we love doing, and honor our God at the same time.
So, whether you look at the ocean and see sparkling, sunlit waves, or if you look at the ocean and see Jaws, you have a wonderful, important point of view that needs to be shared with the people around you. Go ahead, identify your passion, work to develop it, and for God’s sake, as well as everyone else’s, put it out there. Enlighten the rest of us. Open our eyes to your view of the world. We want and need to know how you see things, because only you are able to see them that way.
This post was previously published July 10, 2015 at http://www.beaconpeople.org