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R&V In the Word: Our Marvelous Selves

Image: Tim Foster

Romans 12:4-8 MSG

“So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.”

Romans 12:5 MSG

Back when I was pregnant with my first child, I was 100% certain my destiny was to be a full-time, stay-at-home mom. I went to college to find a husband, after all, not to earn a degree or a living or something. Everything I had done since college—substitute teaching, office manager, public relations and marketing—these were all activities I participated in until my real vocation would begin: mothering.

Imagine my shock when four weeks after Lydia was born, there wasn’t anything I wanted to do more than return to work. It turns out that I love to work, that I don’t feel like my most whole self if I let certain parts of who I am sit idly on a shelf. Of course I was delighted to be a mother, but I sensed intensely that God was calling me into additional roles.

For as long as I have been able to write, I have felt a calling to it. When I don’t write for a stretch of time, it starts to feel like part of me is atrophying. When I do write, the degree of joy and satisfaction I feel is like a baby elephant splashing in a pool of water, or a child dancing in the rain, or a dolphin leaping and spinning out of the ocean. 

I don’t have an explanation for this except for what I’ve found in scripture.

“Just go ahead and be what we were made to be,” Paul wrote to the Romans (in The Message paraphrase).

There have been times in the last couple of years when I have run after other opportunities beyond what God has given me to do because I think I could do them. And because I think I could do them, I have thought that maybe I should do them. Maybe this, and not this other thing, is what I’ve been called into. Maybe I should move away from the opportunities I have in order to pursue this other, prestigious, desirable, attractive opportunity.

And then I hear the Lord say to me again, “Stop trying to be something that you are not and be content being the marvelous and excellently formed part of my body that you are.”

Every part of Christ’s body is good. Every part has its marvelous role. Every part has been formed with the powerful and gentle and loving attention of the Lord. 

I join my voice with St. Irenaeus, who said, “The glory of God is man fully alive.” Let’s rejoice and practice the gifts God has given so freely to us, and be our most marvelous selves.

Points of Reflection

  1. What makes you come alive, like writing does for me?
  2. What are you trying to do that is actually better suited for someone else? What are you expecting other people to do that you are actually quite good at, and maybe ought to just own because it’s your particular gifting?

For the Kids

  1. Do you think that there is any part of your body that is more important than another? How about a part that is useless?
  2. What do you think it means to try to be someone you aren’t? 


It’s kind of remarkable how many things I like to take on because I think I’m the only one who can do them, or I can do them better than anyone else. That’s rather gross to admit, isn’t it? Ew! What arrogance and pride! I confess to you that this tendency in me is a hard one to resist, but if I don’t, I deprive other members of the body of Christ from experiencing their own sense of joy and satisfaction, using their gifts for his glory. In the process of owning every chore, all of that joy and glory seeps out of me, leaving me drained and grumpy. Maybe it’s time to listen to Paul’s words to the Romans. Examine your daily habits and expectations. What is one thing you should probably give up so that someone else can experience their marvelous part in the body of Christ? With that extra space in your life, what is one way you can lean into the ways the Lord has made you that light you up and make you shine?


This isn’t a book, but I recently rewatched the animated movie, Soul, and I can’t stop thinking about #22 and her search for the spark that will indicate she’s ready to go to Earth and start living. It’s such a beautiful metaphor for our own earthly searches for meaning and purpose, to know ourselves and who God has made us to be, and to be able to exercise that purpose in meaningful ways. If you haven’t watched it, grab a box of tissues and get ready to weep and laugh along with an excellent cast of characters and a poignant storyline.

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