I don't share this with many people, but my middle name is Grace. I don't tell people because A) when I was younger, I felt like Grace was an old lady name and B) I am pretty much the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of Grace. I believe I may have been the source of the "awkward flamingo".
Growing up, I was klutzy, clumsy, uncoordinated, ungainly. I could, and still do, trip over nothing, run into door frames, and fall up stairs. I have been hit in the face with almost every kind of ball that exists.
That attractive pic is me in sixth grade. I had super short hair (not by choice). I wasn't athletic. I was barely musical - I sang bass in the back of the middle school choir, while all the pretty lipstick-wearing, fashion-forward, long-haired, beautiful girls sang soprano in the front. I played clarinet – badly and mostly out of step – in marching band, and I liked to read. None of that made me popular with my peers. I watched as my elementary school friends started making new friends, becoming different people, and there I was, one awkward clumsy flamingo hiding behind all of the swans.
But here's the thing. God loves awkward flamingos, just as much as He loves the swans. And not only does He LOVE them, but I like to think He has an extra soft spot for them, because He SPECIFICALLY and PURPOSEFULLY designed them to be flamingos.
Here are some facts about flamingos from thespruce.com:
- Flamingos are strong swimmers and powerful flyers. They don't fly often, but they fly well!
- Flamingos come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
- A flock of flamingos is called a "flamboyance".
- There are now more plastic lawn flamingos in the U.S. than living ones.
What do these facts tell us?
- It doesn't matter how uncoordinated or ungraceful we may be, God empowers us to be powerful and effective just the same.
- We are each made for a unique purpose. Our differences (even our flaws) make us able to serve in the specific way that God intended.
- Working together, a group of awkward flamingos can be AMAZING!
- The U.S. has strange taste in lawn décor.
In middle school, and sometimes even now, I hid parts of me, just like I hid my middle name. I was afraid to let anyone see all of me: the teenage girl just wanting to be liked, deep depression and anxiety, the weird parts of me – my laugh, my body issues, my complete and total lack of coordination. Maybe you are like that too, but here is the lesson that God has been trying to teach me most of my life: God has a purpose for each of the of bass-singing, rhythm-egg playing, awkwardly-dancing flamingos just as much as the elegant, gracefully-swaying swans!
God can and will use you in all of your awkward glory for His greater purpose - your struggles, your gifts, even your scars. So know that you are DEEPLY LOVED by the only ONE that knows ALL of you. So be awkward, shy, ungainly, but be UNAFRAID. God has amazing plans for the Entire, Wonderful, Majestically Awkward Flamingo that God made you and only you to be!
Psalm 139:14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Psalm 118: 6 The Lord is on my side, I am not afraid! What can people do to me?