I own Tupperware.

Heaps of it.

And not by choice either.

These little plastic wonderments were wedding presents. Christmas presents. Birthday presents. Valentine’s Day presents. Anniversary presents. Just because presents. All from my mother-in-law.

So I have to keep them.

All of them.

Square ones. Rectangle ones. Oblong ones. Short and fat ones. Tall and skinny ones. I think I have a hundred different kinds.

One, for example, holds half a grapefruit. Only half. Another stores a single boiled egg. There’s one with little tabs to mark how long its contents loiter uneaten in the fridge. And one with a juicer attachment for mutilating helpless limes I suppose. I’ve got one for homemade salad dressing, angel hair pasta, wild rice, brown sugar, cheerios, sandwiches, burritos, pie, popcorn, tomatoes, cheese wedges, dog food.

The list is endless.

I wouldn’t mind so much if the containers all stacked neatly together. If they fit into their designated kitchen cabinet. They don’t. I might even like the little misfits if they were all a uniform set. You know, the same texture, design, color. They aren’t.

Honestly, it’s a mess.

Their unique qualities, their individuality makes my entire kitchen a jumbled, cluttered, disordered haven for craziness and confusion.

And don’t get me started on the lids.

In life I think we face a similar dilemma at times. We struggle with the differentness we see in others around us. The unique and varied way in which God has created each and every human being (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually).

They can rub like a steel S.O.S. pad, if we are truthful.

On certain days, in certain nerve-wracking situations, we feel like I do with my Tupperware. We wonder why those we care about won’t stack up to our expectations and fit neatly into the cabinets of arbitrary significance we’ve established in our minds. These moments try our patience. They test our forbearance. And they rightfully question the validity of our agendas. Because if we aren’t careful, if our task-driven natures bulldoze a little too aggressively over our compassionate sides, we can find ourselves with soapy steel pad in hand scrubbing the exposed heart of a loved one raw.

And we all know what that feels like.

Being scrubbed raw.

Enduring the painful rebuffs, rejection, misunderstanding from those who don’t get why we can’t more easily conform. Why we aren’t shape-shifters or marionettes with strings.

Everyone undoubtedly has the need to belong. To be accepted, appreciated, wanted. To be a contributing member of a larger group. At times the need is so great we chameleon into whatever we perceive to be the acceptable norm. But it’s a losing battle.

People, after all, are fickle.

Nitpicky. Moody.

What really happens when we try too hard to become what others want us to be is we lose our sense of purpose. Our identity, the particular disposition God created us to have. We can’t seem to find it. We just can’t figure out who we are, who we are really meant to be and, therefore, what we are meant to do.

Each one of us holds within a special calling, dream, testimony, gift, message, story, song put there by God to offer hope to others and point them to Jesus. To throw that aside is a great loss not just for the chameleon but also for others around him or her as well. In Psalm 139, the psalmist poetically conveys how carefully God has crafted each one of us:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:13-16 NIV)

If these verses are true, if they really express God’s heart for humanity, why did God make us all so different? Why are we all so “fearfully and wonderfully made”?

Because God is not in the assembly-line business.

God is not interested in creation for the sake of functionality. Manufacturing for the singular goal of performance in mind.

God prefers a masterpiece.

A work of art.

That is what He made you and me to be.

Yes, we have plenty of good work to do while living on this earth, and that work is important. But we are not just motorized and mechanized Model Ts created in robotic fashion to serve and run at the turn of a key. And we are not anomalous plastic containers either. We do not displease God because we can’t hold within us the same stuff as someone else. Because we don’t fit just right into a narrow-minded, square-minded, boxy cupboard-like world.

The exact opposite is true.

Our differentness speaks directly to our worth. To our incredible value in God’s eyes. The care our Father spends crafting our unique qualities, the great love He holds for each one of us is undeniable when we look at the originality that springs forth in humanity.

God loves His living, breathing, exquisitely one-of-a-kind masterpieces because they perfectly express His glory.

And also His grace.

Perfectly imperfect we are meant to be.

So let’s all go a little easier next time when our loved ones don’t follow our plans quite like we want them to. When we feel the urge to grab that steel pad and scrub. Let’s try to keep in mind they (and you and me too) were not created to function for us. We are designed to shine for Him.

And if you struggle with this like I do at times, just come borrow some Tupperware to help remind you of the truth.

I won’t even mind if you forget to give it back.

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you in order to bring praise to God.

Romans 15:7