In college I had close friends who were poster girls for femininity. They loved wearing dresses—were sweet, gentle, and soft-spoken—and looked great in pink.
I loved my friends. And I envied them.
Everything they were, I wasn't. I didn't fit the culture's and the church's expectations. For years I'd pray, "God, make me more soft-spoken and sweet. Why do I have to be so loud, opinionated, and stubborn?" I felt out of place and unacceptable—although no one ever said that.
Then about eight years ago I met a woman who had my sense of humor. She was strong and opinionated—and wonderful. One day she let me in on a secret: for years she'd felt out of place and unacceptable because she didn't fit the expectations that so many others had placed on her in the church and culture. And she'd spent many hours asking God why he made her that way.
His answer came on September 11, 2001, when her husband was severely burned in the Pentagon attack. For long, hard months afterward, as she walked with her husband through more than 30 surgeries, she saw that the way God created her was a gift. Had she been everything she'd earlier desired, she wouldn't have been able to offer the strength that her family and community needed.
God used my friend's story to help me realize that he didn't make a mistake when he sculpted my personality and gifts. He knew they would be different from other women's because he wanted them to be! My responsibility is to use them to his glory.
Now I start every morning thanking God for making me the way he did, and asking that he use me as he made me to be.
There are days when I still struggle with accepting who I am. But every day I lean into my Creator, remembering 2 Corinthians 12:9: "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." And with the apostle Paul, I—we all!—can attest, "So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me."