What am I doin’? What am I doin’?
Oh, yeah, that’s right, I’m doin’ me
I’m doin me – I’m livin’ life right now, mayne
And this what I’ma do ’til it’s over
‘Til it’s over but it’s far from over…. “Over” by Drake
“If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?”
1 Corinthians 12:17
First off, let’s get one thing straight – I don’t listen to rap or Drake. I’m not that cool. But the kids love him, especially the young girls. He’s cute. One night they were blasting this rap song and nodding their heads to it. I haven’t been able to get the chorus “I’m doin’ me, I’m doin’ me!” out of my head ever since. Picture me shaking my head and waving my hands like Flava Flav back in the day. “You do you – I’ma do me,” has become my mantra over the years. It’s how I encourage folks to chart their own course and find their own success.
I’ve written before about my struggle to understand my gifts and my responsibility to use them. It took a while for things to click, for me to just get it. “Not that I have already attained” but I’m getting there. I tend to be the kind of person who overlooks the obvious because it’s too obvious. I pride myself on taking the road less traveled. The original rebel without a clue, I fought against anything that just seemed too easy. So you see how I could sing for years and not understand it was my gift just because it was the obvious choice. And, although I was drawn more and more to my bible, I discounted my ability to recall and retell the stories. I thought anyone could do that. These gifts had no value because they seemed easy enough to come by and common enough. Still, I asked God continuously, “What is my gift?”
Then I thought to myself, what if the obvious choice is a blatant clue? No more scratching my head and asking for direction. What if all along, my natural gifts were being revealed in how easily something came to me? Or in how much I was drawn to it? Or in the way the outcome was blessed? What if I could know my gift in how good I became at certain things? What if the gifts were revealed in just living my life to the best of my ability? In just doing me? Could it be that simple?
When we were young ladies, my sister and I thought about making our own clothes. How cool would that be? And it should be easy enough to learn – our mother was a seamstress. She could make anything. So we went to our mother and got her to teach us. My sister took to it immediately. Me, on the other hand, not so much. I don’t think I ever really wanted to sew as much as I liked the idea of being able to sew. It should have been fun but it wasn’t for me. My mother finally gave up in frustration, “You’ll never learn to sew!” For years, I blamed her. I thought it was because she gave up or because of what she said. But I soon realized that I wasn’t driven enough, I didn’t love it enough to pursue it. My sister went on to become quite creative in sewing and making things for her home – she’s a regular Martha Stewart. I’ve accepted my talents do not lie in that area and just ask her! But I inherited my mother’s talent for cooking and my sister will ask me to make those family favorites that our mother used to make.
It never fails to astound me the number of people who want to follow and emulate others. True, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, still, I am puzzled. Your greatest success can only be in being true to yourself and in realizing your own gifts. I am a firm believer that no one can outdo you, doing you. Michael Jordan used to say that when he was “in the zone”, no one could touch him. Similarly, when you are accepting and using the gifts that God has given you for your life, for your contribution to society, you are untouchable. You are one hundred percent original and no one can copy you. No one will ever be able to “do you”, successfully. At best, they can be but a pale imitation. So why try? The answer lies in the success of the subject being imitated. Whatever they did worked, therefore, it stands to reason that if you do it, it could work for you, too.
But here’s the kicker, they only made it look easy because it is their gift. Some people can whip up an entire meal, effortlessly, while others struggle to boil water. Some folks can plan a wonderful, spectacular event with all the trimmings while someone else cannot plan a simple get together for lunch. Some can stand in front of a crowd, seemingly at ease, while others are crippled with stage fright. And some are charismatic, a pied piper, leading others into great adventures. Their success is in their natural inclinations, their gifts. It is why these things appear easy for them. But all of these people have something in common – they are being true to themselves and just doing what comes naturally. Sometimes we devalue what God has given us. We don’t trust in what he has given us that makes us great. That’s because we don’t see what God sees.
We used to have aquariums in my home. We tried to create the perfect environment for the fish and turtles to live in. Everything they could need – food, oxygen, filtering system – was right there. One day I had an epiphany: That’s exactly what God has done for us! He created this world with everything we could ever need to live and enjoy life. Even our bodies were created to be perfect, each member working in harmony with the whole. The Bible likens us, as individuals, to be parts of the body of Christ – made up of multiple limbs and organs, each having a unique function but all made to work together. And so, the scripture argues that we all are needed, whatever our gift may be. No one person should be envious or covetous of another’s gift because their own is just as important to the success of the entire body. God has made us all to be vital to its function. Whatever he has given you to do is necessary.
Sometimes when we look at our gifts and abilities and our place in the world, all we see is our insignificance – kind of like George in It’s a Wonderful Life. We don’t see our own importance. My father used to say “You should always walk like someone is following.” So even though I can’t always see that my life makes a difference, I try to live my life like it does. There is something to be said for simply being you. And that’s pretty darn terrific.