In honor of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., (Jan 15, 1929 – Apr 04, 1968), I am reflecting on this excerpt from a speech he made at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia, on October 26, 1967.
“Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.”
Dr. King encourages us to be the best of whatever we are. Doing so is a challenge when we do not value who we are, when we are plagued by discontent and dissatisfaction with our lives and who we are. And comparing ourselves negatively with others can often be a contributing factor to our devaluing of ourselves and our discontent with our lives. Various social media platforms provide numerous opportunities daily to view the highlights of the lives of others, and if we are not careful, foster the habit of negative comparison.
What is an antidote to negative comparison? What can help us value ourselves, motivate us to be the best of who we are, and strive for excellence in our work? I believe a helpful resource is the truth stated in Psalm 139:13-14:
“For You formed my innermost parts;
You knit me [together] in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.”
(Psalm 139:13-14, AMP)
God designed each of us for His specific purpose and was not careless in knitting us together. He did not make any mistakes. Not in our physical makeup. Not in our abilities. When we envy others, we are saying to God, “You shortchanged me. What You give me is inferior to what You give others.” Let us not be guilty of this false accusation. Instead, let us focus on discovering our gifts and abilities, and honor the One Who give them to us by developing our gifts and abilities, and using them for His glory. As I heard a minister say once, “God can only bless who we are, not who we pretend to be.” Let us be our best selves. Let us be the best of whatever we are.