“Dad, I’m tired and hungry and thirsty. But we will not quit, because finishing is what we do.”

This from five-year-old Sloane who is a bit of an old soul and has become a real student of her parents. She hears constantly about responsibility and following through with what you say you’ll do. There’s value in finishing well.

She’s also quite dramatic.

Nobody taught that little girl to strike a pose for a camera. She is unabashedly friendly and outspoken–she’s her mother’s daughter. Her ability to process and come up with logical arguments for anything that strikes her fancy is a trait that comes from her dad.

There’s a reason Sloane is the way she is.

Our personalities are shaped fairly well by the time we reach six years of age. Our brains grow magnificently in those first years, and we take in information quickly and grow in our ability to understand and synthesize what we’re learning.

We are a product of our stories and of the heritage we’ve received from our parents.

None of this is new, but we too often forget that where we’ve been, who we know, and who has impacted our lives has made an indelible mark on us individually.

We’re not only who we are in the moment, when we meet someone or make a comment about something that’s been said. We bring a history of input and investment that others have intentionally or unintentionally made on our lives.

Yet too often we try and “fit” a mold that’s been heralded as the “right” way to be acceptable. Somebody who isn’t social-media savvy may say something that reflects a background different from their listeners. Instead of pursuing conversation, it’s easier to label and lambast for words said rather than love the person and choose to understand where they’re coming from.

Sloane may know how to strike a pose for the camera, but we’re all real posers in life, fearful of letting others see our doubts and questions, of being thought different or questionable by those we respect and admire. I find it amusing that those fashion setters on Instagram and other social platforms are called “Influencers”, merely because of what they wear or buy.

What’s far more significant is what and who is influencing our hearts and minds? Who impacts the way we think or process what we see? If we only look to those who are like us or who we want to be like, we lose the ability to be individuals adding to a collective IQ that helps all of us.

We become a herd of sheep, all alike, following one after another.

The Bible speaks to the reality of our identity. King David made this glorious claim:

“Oh, yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; You formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank You, High God–you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made!” Psalm 139:13-14

We are each known fully by God, made in His image, beautiful in His eyes. Each of us unique, each with value beyond our comprehension. We were made to be different, not cookie-cutter people who look and act the same.

We don’t need to strike a pose for anyone, least of all God. He sees us and loves us fully, if we let Him.

I’m more than one of the flock.

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