By Farris Long
History books do not give place to those who simply follow trends but to those who create them. We fly around the world today because the Wright brothers believed that manned flight was possible. Black people can ride the bus today and sit anywhere they want because Rosa Parks dared to be a trendsetter. We drink milk that is much safer now because Louie Pasteur created a new process that we call pasteurization. God created each of us to be unique. When we do not celebrate our uniqueness, we are doomed to repeat the sins of Adam and Eve. We will believe the lie that we are less than who we are. Satan told Eve, in his effort to tempt her, “by eating this fruit you will be like God.” The truth is, when they were created, the bible says that they were created in the image and likeness of God. In fact, as proof of their God-likeness, Genesis 1:26 says that they were given dominion over the earth. How much more like God can you be? When we are not convinced of our identity, we run the risk of being defined by cultural externals.
Jacob was given that name because he grabbed his brother’s heal on the way out of the womb. One innocent but infamous act left him labeled for most of his life. Because people reinforced the nature every time they called his name, he spent a good portion of his life living up to what they called him. Each time he was summoned they were summoning the trickster… the con man.. the heel grabber. It wasn’t until his encounter with God that he was empowered with who he REALLY was. “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for as a prince you have prevailed with God.”
So often in my travels both as a motivational speaker and as a preacher, I hear people say that they want to be “The Next..” (the next Kirk Franklin, the next T.D. Jakes, the next Juanita Bynum, the next Noel Jones etc etc.) God never created you to be a stereotype. Each of us was created as a prototype. Being a prototype means, being a trend setter. Being a stereotype may be easy and comfortable, but it doesn’t allow you to leave a mark. We fly around the world today because the Wright brothers believed that manned flight was possible. Black people can ride the bus today and sit anywhere they want because Rosa Parks dared to be a trendsetter. We drink milk that is much safer now because Louie Pasteur created a new process that we call pasteurization.
One key component for becoming a trend setter is a willingness to deal with ridicule. Too often we take the pathway of least resistance. It is easy and comfortable but it doesn’t cause you to leave a mark. I remember back in high school, my step-dad developed diabetes. His sickness caused him to lose his job and the weight of all the bills fell on my mom. She had to use all her resources to keep the lights on and a roof over our head. So naturally me having the most up to date clothes was not a huge priority. And by all means $60 sneakers were not an option. The only way I got Nikes or Pumas or Converses, was if they were handed down to me from my older cousin or my older brother. The same thing went for clothes. In middle school when my dad first developed the disease, I either had to wear high- water pants and too small shirts to school or wear the one thing I had a lot of that fit… Church Clothes. Because the kids picked at me harder when I wore high waters, I opted to wear my church clothes instead. Yea I got picked at and talked about. But it wasn’t nearly as bad. I will admit it did hurt. It hurt a lot. I cried many days asking God why I couldn’t have what the other kids had. When my older brother (step brother) moved in in the latter part of my junior high years, he empowered me in a way that I have never shared before until now. I pray he reads this article because I want to pause and say thanks for what he did for me (unknowingly).
My brother was so different. His style of dress was amazing. He didn’t wear what everyone else wore. His style was a smooth dressy casual look. He didn’t look like everyone else, but people ALWAYS admired how clean his look was. I admired him so much that sometimes I went in his room when he left for school and borrowed his clothes. I wanted to be just like my big brother. Before long, it gave me the courage to wear my church clothes with pride. I had started playing the piano for churches at the age of 12 or 13 so I could have money to eat lunch each week and get my clothes. I bought clothes like his. I no longer wanted to look like the other kids. What started as ridicule turned into respect because I carried a new confidence in who I was. It is so amazing to me when I go on Facebook from time to time and people from high school share with me the respect they had for me over the years. One person told me, “Yea, I picked at you back in the day and called you church boy. But the truth be told I couldn’t help but respect you. I didn’t understand it back then, but you dared to be different. Now look at where you are in life.”
This article is for everyone who has been told you have to live your life dancing to the beat of the drum. I am challenging you to create your own band- your own sound that has its place in this symphony called life. It may be hard sometimes. But, I am telling you today it’s okay to Be You.
For more from Farris Long