Disallowed Uniqueness

The less I allow myself to be a unique person, the more I disallow others to be who they are meant to be.

Todd Beal

You were born unique but does that matter to you? You were born to do what you were purposed to be, but do you know what that is, or do you forsake that pleasure for the sake of pleasure – or safety?

You were born to take a stand when others will not, but do you stand with truth – or do you merely stand, then fall, by your self-enslaved will?

You were born to love – and also in the presence of hate – but does love reside within your heart, even for yourself?

You were born to be you and no one else, but are you trying to be someone you’re not for the sake of tradition? Do you turn your back on you for the sake of stability, acceptance, or the “rational”, or for the sake of embracing or rejecting a religion?

You were born unique, but when you disallow yourself to be only you, you then insist that others become just like you – after all, bland hates color.

Life is the palette upon which God paints his awesome color, you. He alone loved you enough to envision you, to plan you, to give you a purpose, and to carefully craft you like no other – his unique masterpiece in the making. With brush in hand he stands ready with unequalled power, waiting to continue his awesome creation, you – if you just let him.

Be you, my friend. It’s time to live. It’s time to go free and rejoice when others do the same.

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About Todd Beal

I love truth and its facts. I love thought-provoking conversations that give both the other person and me a better understanding of a particular topic. I love to find answers to life-long questions; answers that let me see things for what they are instead of what they seem to be. I truly enjoy being in the midst of a group of people where all individuals are joining in, where everybody is enjoying the company of each other. I relax in the company of individuals who are competent yet humble. I like to catch myself doing or saying something ridiculous and then laugh my head off. I enjoy my church and being involved.
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12 Responses to Disallowed Uniqueness

  1. Lance Ponder says:

    //The less I allow myself to be a unique person, the more I disallow others to be who they are meant to be. //

    Talk about having to stop and think, and rethink, and see things a whole new way… WOW.

    There’s so much here to chew on. So much. wow…

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  2. I agree with Lance, this one speaks volumes. Every leaf, twig, and insect in nature is unique, and each human being much more so, yet pressures to both conform and rebel are focused on all of us every day. Young people without adequate mentoring become confused–what to do with my uniqueness and my endless power of choice? It seems so much power to be given to each being, overwhelming to many who choose simply to find someone to TELL them what to do. Others choose rebellion, and express themselves by seeking the opposite of what those who care for them would have them do. Are we here to conform or to rebel? Do God and religion, as skeptics would have us think, put us in straight-jackets of law and commandment that stifle our personalities? I don’t agree with this. Some of the boldest, most creative and utterly unique people who have ever lived have been pious adherents to the strict tenets of their faith. I think God wants us to be “all we can be” within the bounds he has set, which are, after all, boundaries set only for our own protection and longevity. Some of the great men I see in my own faith (the Apostles) are active teachers and preachers well into their eighties and nineties, strong of mind and body. They’ve never touched alcohol or drugs, have been faithful to their wives, and for the most part their only “adventures” have been those of the spirit. Yet despite their rigid and humble acceptance of God’s laws (none are perfect, but have strived for it very hard), each is cherished for his unique voice and contributions to the growth of God’s kingdom. A sports analogy also works here: The greatest athletes are all one-of-a-kinds, and take their sports to higher levels. But they do it within the rules. I hope my teenagers are grasping this–you don’t have to rebel to be unique, you just need to stay inbounds and give good game.

    Thanks Todd for another excellent thought — I’ll have to come back again and comment on another aspect of this!

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    • Todd Beal says:

      Michael,

      I firmly believe that not all child/teenage rebellion is unfounded. So many parents have for so many years stuffed their own uniqueness, and consequently cannot possibly see the uniqueness within their child. They know that their child is a unique person, but instead of determining to truly understand and engage that uniqueness, they instead treat that child as a variation of their own self, not as a one of a kind person. Regardless of parent/child similarities through inherited traits, talents, physical build, etc, no one is his or her parent, not even a variation.

      Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he/she should go.” It does not say, “Train up a child in the way the parent should go.” A simple and seemingly benign but telling example: my best friend – who ironically is an expert nutritionist – almost always eats his dessert before his meal. Yeah it’s unusual, but it works for him and there is nothing wrong with it. We just don’t like it because it’s not “normal”. Most parents would never allow their children to do this, thus saying to their child, “It’s not okay to be different because I want you to be my kind of normal, not yours.”

      Concerning scholastic studies, not all teenagers need do their homework before engaging in fun time. After a long and taxing 7-8 hour day at school, some need to give their mind a rest before going back to work. Yet how many parents insist their child go straight to the books immediately after school.

      Concerning familial law, not all children respond well to unexplained rules and commands. Truly, some individuals need to understand the logic, reasoning, or premise upon which certain rules and commands are based. This need for understanding is not rebellion; it is how God designed their mind to wisely navigate through life. I am one of those people. I know when someone has or has not thought through something before issuing an edict. Even as a young child I knew when my parents’ and teachers’ rules/commands were irrational. I hated being forced to obey their sometimes flawed thinking. If a rule or command contradicts reality, and thus truth, then it serves no good purpose and tells me one thing only, “The person who is trying to make me obey doesn’t him/herself know whether or not the rule or command is valid. Therefore, their ego is telling me to do this, not truth.” Forcing a child to constantly obey without question or rebuttal denies that child’s need to develop discernment and good judgment. If I through personal laziness, issue a command or establish a new rule (permanent or temporary) without first putting forth the effort to think it through, and then force my child to adhere to it under threat of punishment, I am the one in rebellion not my child.

      Sure, there are those situations in which children and teenagers simply must obey without question, but if the parent has established a prior history of sound judgment in relation to the child, that child will obey much more willingly out of respect, not through fear or intimidation. We need to remember that we are in service to our children; they are not our slaves to do with as we please. Our job is to train them how to think for themselves and how to make sense of their feelings. Our job is to teach them skills according to their unique talents and abilities, help them understand the importance of obedience, and through Godly personal example, show them that Jesus is the only one who can make their life complete. Apart from this we fail them, and consequently fail God’s charge to be good stewards of his creation, our children.

      So, are we here to rebel, or conform? Sometimes the answer is neither. Sometimes we must blaze our own trail, directly violating what others call normal. Sometimes, the boundaries that provide life-preserving freedom for others are the very life-draining restrictions that retard our God-designed personality. We would do well to remember this while rearing our children.

      In all things we must first seek God’s direction; second, we must strive at all cost to kill our ego, the enemy of our uniqueness. The less I allow myself to be a unique person, the more I disallow others to be who they are meant to be, including my children.

      | You don’t have to rebel to be unique, you just need to stay inbounds and give good game. |

      Excellent statement; this applies to all of life, not just sports. May I have your permission to put this in my Truth Behind Reality book and use this as a separate future post (original wording unchanged with clear and full credit given to you the author)?

      Outside of bounds there is no game. Past the shoreline there is no lake. Without God’s law there would be no forgiveness and there would be no grace. Without God’s law there would be no salvation – only death, endless death.

      Michael, there is so much substance in your comment I cannot possibly address it completely. Once again you give plenty to think about. Thanks.

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      • Lance Ponder says:

        Todd, this is a serious question so please don’t think I’m being flippant and I do not mean to cause offense, but do you have any autism? A few things you said in this comment were indicators. Not a diagnosis, mind you, but it made me wonder.

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        • Todd Beal says:

          No offense taken, Lance. I don’t have any autism that I know of. However, when I read or see documentaries of some people with autism I thoroughly identify with much of how they think and respond to life. I’m not aware of what you’re picking up on but I would sure appreciate further input.

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      • Thanks Todd, you’re welcome to use that statement as you like, and to rephrase in your own words. I don’t need any copyright on it!

        I like the things you say about about rebellion and originality. My oldest daughter (now 18), has always exasperated my wife because her personality is so opposite of her own–my wife is diligent, thoughtful, had to study very hard to succeed in school and doesn’t retain much detail of what she learns, but is very conscious of social propriety and the dignity and well-being of others. My daughter, on the other hand, is what you would call “footloose and fancy free.” I remember once when she was a toddler I had to rescue her from a precarious position on top of a dresser, onto which she had climbed to get her hands on something. “I need to see things! I need to touch things!” she yelled. This has been the motto for her life thus far. She loves to experience life, and is often caught abandoning rules and responsibilities for the chance to have a good time. Her room is always a mess, and she’s always misplacing and forgetting about things. At the same time, she’s a brilliant student who retains almost everything she’s taught, has to study very little to score high on tests, and has an extensive social network with dozens of good friends. She’s never gotten into serious trouble, but we feel like it’s only because of the “boundaries” we’ve placed on her–against which she often fights. She’s a great kid, but one we know if we just “turned loose” might quickly end up in dire straits. Should we just let her go? Well, she’s almost 19 and ready for college, and she can’t wait to move out. We plan to go “hands off” and see how she does. Have we done the right thing by reining her in, maybe even sheltering her so much that she’s not ready for the world? I guess we’ll find out.

        Our younger daughter’s personality is very much like my wife’s–their nature is almost identical. Very obedient, very much a pleaser, one who keeps rules and is embarrassed when she makes any kind of mistake. It’s tempting to look at the child you’re struggling with and say “why can’t you be more like—“, but I know that’s a huge mistake. They CAN’T be like each other, any more than one snowflake can mimic the next. We as parents just have to accept that while one child may be more “work”than the other, they are both children of God and deserving of respect and consideration.

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        • Todd Beal says:

          Michael, it sounds like your eldest daughter has the fire that is typical of a first-born child. If you ever choose to dive into this subject it is a fascinating study (personal disposition of eldest versus middle versus youngest).

          The first thing that comes to mind while reading your comment is an Arabian stallion that is bred for world class racing. The horse is strikingly beautiful, powerfully strong, extremely high spirited, and when confined must be very carefully managed. He has so much pent up energy that if not handled properly, he would potentially hurt himself and those around him, once left to his own devices.

          Year after year, his caretakers provide him with the best food, the best housing, and the most intensely focused well-designed discipline and training program known to them. From the day of his birth, they have carefully monitored and looked after every known aspect of his unique make up, doing everything in their power to ensure his future success. Then one day his trainer decides that this awesome stallion, his pride and joy, is ready to make his debut.

          On race day, he is led into a very small stall with no room to move, but now, only one gate stands between him and freedom. The powerful animal stamps the ground and his muscles twitch and flex as he waits for the door in front to open. Bang! The door opens and he explodes into action. Down the track he goes, galloping faster and faster as he pounds the earth with unrelenting strength and power. His trainer is yelling go, go! The crowd is on their feet in a deafening roar as this magnificent animal thrusts forward, passing rival after rival and on the final turn takes the lead. Like a bullet he thunders down the track with nothing between him and the finish line. 100 yards to go, then 50, 20, 10… and no one knows it, but he doesn’t care that he crossed the finish line crushing every known record. For the first time in his life he is doing what he was born to do, run like the wind and never look back. He is free, finally free, and will never be the same.

          But is he at last free of all restriction? No, even the racetrack has boundaries, both on his right and left, beyond which he may not go. But he doesn’t care – he’s running. He has purpose now, and he knows it.

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  3. Lance Ponder says:

    Todd,

    Regarding the cues I mentioned, it is more what is unwritten than what is written. I know that isn’t helpful, but I’ll try to explain. You have a passion for truth. That’s not autistic in and of itself. But beyond that, you strive with extreme diligence for factual accuracy. You seem to have difficulty letting a stray thought get away from the herd. I appreciate the thoroughness and tenacity with which you approach things. You seek to be both concise and accurate. You’d have made a good constitutional framer. Autism is not a bad thing. In fact, it can be quite an asset in the right situations. Another cue is the certainty you have in yourself. Autism is seldom introspective in the sense that it has self-doubt. A lack of self-doubt is essential when you are right, but it can get you into trouble if you are wrong. It can breed insensitivity, however I have not observed that. In fact, the emotion you express is a counterweight that made me think perhaps I was imagining things.

    My son has a form of autism that for lack of a better Dx we call Asperger’s. He’s in college studying finance. He’s obsessive about what he likes and generally ignores what he doesn’t like. He always knows which fluorescent lights in Wal-Mart are blinking or buzzing. He has emotions, but he has difficulty identifying them and managing them. He is easily overstimulated. He doesn’t do well in situations where he does not know what to expect. Surprises are generally not good, even if they are good. He doesn’t like going to new places, although he’s had enough good experiences over the years that he’s much better now than he was a few years ago. I could go on and on, and since I don’t know you in the “real” world I have no way of gauging anything besides your posts and the comments you leave here and there. As for the diagnosis, most people who have a form of autism go undiagnosed. My wife is convinced I’m ADD. I don’t think so. But then maybe. I have horrible memory and I do tend to flit about sometimes. I can remember weird stuff, numbers, but I don’t do as well in social conversation. I don’t have a Dx. And I don’t really want one. Its how I’m bent, so to speak. But that doesn’t keep my wife from trying to fix me. LOL.

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    • Todd Beal says:

      Asperger’s; that’s the word I was trying to remember. About a year ago, I went to the bookstore with my parents and just happened across a book with personal life stories of people with Asperger’s. I found one particular story written by a girl describing what it feels like to be alienated from others. As I read, I suddenly realized, “That’s me”. She described herself as being an island to which no one would travel, so she instead had to learn how to travel to the mainland of people. I immediately felt understood. I knew what she meant because people don’t naturally get me. I have learned to “get” them first, then find a way to travel into their world thus leaving mine. It takes a very unique person to accept me as I am.

      Regarding stray thoughts, for sixteen years I have worked very hard to understand life in as many areas as realistically possible. I grew up in a family of gifted and thinking people, but traditional nonetheless. I grew up around people that never contemplated the question, “Why do I have five fingers and not four, three, or six? Why am I drawn to this person but repelled by this other? Why is this person angry with me when I am just trying to show them their thinking is flawed? Why did that teacher tell me I laugh too loud? How do I fix myself?” My whole life until beginning in 2003, people have misunderstood, or not understood, where I am coming from. So, I have made it my mission to think through literally everything in the attempt to connect with them. During and after every conversation I ask myself, “What was said both by me and the other person(s)? What was the outcome and how could I improve it should a similar conversation occur in the future? Was I right in what I said: if yes, why, if no, why? How was my attitude? Was it self-serving; was it offensive; was I angry but truly justified in both my word content and delivery? Was I accurate? Did I explain myself well enough to facilitate a meaningful conversation?” I have learned that in order to successfully navigate life, I must thoroughly think through everything, including my feelings.

      For many years I lost my ability to directly experience my feelings. I could only feel feelings after I thought through the meaning of my experience, but even then, they manifested as pure mental feelings, not physical, or “normal”, as others experience them. When they finally began to return in 2003, I swore to myself I would never again take them for granted, or block them out as I once did. I have made it my mission to understand and catalog every feeling and its associated contextual meaning according to my ability. I ask myself, “Why that particular feeling and what caused it? Is it okay to let myself feel it or should I change it into another? Am I directing this feeling or is it directing me? Am I unduly neglecting my feelings or does this particular situation truly require me to use my intellect aside from my feelings? Is my emotional self telling me I have used my intellect to the point that my feelings and emotions need release? If so, do I seek that release in the form of human interaction or do I find a suitable movie that relates to what I know I need to feel?

      I think even in my dreams, albeit accompanied by sound, color, texture, smell, and taste. Even as a child, I never did not think about everything. The only difference between then and now is that now I know how to think about thinking and am cognizant of my understanding. I have learned to question myself in all areas and not just cling to a certain position just because. I ask myself, “Am I right, why? Am I wrong, why? Am I right but don’t understand why I’m right? Am I wrong but don’t understand why I’m wrong? What would irrefutably prove my position or lack thereof? What is lacking in my understanding that I cannot prove the contradictions in this other person’s statements?

      Regarding unexpected surprises and new situations, I have learned to deal with them, but only artificially. Inside I love newness, and if I had my way about it I would comfortably involve myself with as many new things as humanly possible, but wishes are one thing, reality is another. I have set methods for interacting with any stranger. I have carefully studied my interactions with enough people, in all walks of life, to effectively approximate a meaningful conversation first time around. I have learned to make my mind and senses work together in order to understand what the other person is feeling, thinking, and conveying, real-time. That took a lot of work and I’m still improving. It is still difficult to interact with even my family without a great deal of thought, but it gets easier the more I learn. I still occasionally feel a sense of limited terror in unfamiliar surroundings, whether in the presence of others or by myself. I always feel tremendous comfort when I open the door to my apartment and am once again by myself in familiar territory. I feel even better when I walk into my office and turn on my computer.

      Well…, I could go on and on but hopefully I’ve said enough to answer your inquiry. I hope this explains things Lance. Whether or not I have any degree of autism/Asperger’s, I don’t know. I’ve not studied it enough to know either way.

      I do know one thing: I love truth, and feel indescribable joy each time I find independent irrefutable proof of its multifaceted existence. God is an awesome God that he would allow me to understand what he has made. I love him for that. I often thank God for making me just the way I am. He truly thought about me as he was making me, and gave me everything I need to make the most of it. What more could I ask than that? He saved me, and what less could I possibly expect from the one who gave me life.

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      • Lance Ponder says:

        We are all islands. Some of us just happen to be more aware of our beaches than others. 😉 But seriously, I deeply appreciate you opening up and discussing this. Whether you ever get a Dx or not, you’ve learned coping skills and you’ve turned a weakness into a strength. God has blessed you through your suffering, and through your suffering I am blessed, too. Thank you.

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        • Todd Beal says:

          Lance, your friendship means a lot to me and I really appreciate your words of encouragement and validation. Thank you for choosing to be a part of my life. I talk about you often to my family.

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