You Do You

You do you.

If you’re a teenager, or have one living in your house, or work with them in any capacity, you know what those three words mean.  You do you is a call to not allow the world to dictate your actions or let the opinions of others change your decisions.

I’m quite a few decades past the target audience for this phrase, but I’m both drawn to it for its simplicity and its truth.  But if the expression happens to escape my lips, I’ll promptly hear those dreaded words, “Mom. Don’t. Ever. Say. That. Again.”

At its core, you do you implores one to stay true to herself, to be original, not a carbon copy of someone else.

It’s easy to say you do you.  But it’s way harder to live it —no matter how old you are.

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A few months ago, I reached out to a colleague who is also a Christian women’s speaker and blogger via Facebook message.  We’ve met a few times, but we aren’t close friends. In the course of our dialogue, I happened to pay her a compliment on a recent blog post and her website.

First of all, before I share her response to my encouragement, I have to confess.

As we were going back and forth in our little FB exchange, I checked out her newly launched website, her upcoming speaking engagement calendar, her bio and all the beautiful pictures on her site.  And immediately I felt something stir inside me. 

I wish I could say the stirring was joy for her.  Or even that day’s lunch. 

But it wasn’t. 

It was envy. 

At first, it didn’t register that I was having jealous thoughts or comparing my own success (or perceived lack thereof) to hers. That’s how insidious envy can be. 

It becomes familiar like a back door neighbor who enters without even knocking anymore.   

It encircles us without notice like our most comfortable pair of yoga pants.  

It was her response that arrested my ignoble thoughts:

"Aw, thank you sister. That really means so much. I’ll be honest, Sarah. God is bringing me out of a time of personal bondage to jealousy and self-centeredness (disguised as low self-esteem). It’s funny that as He does that, you, someone I’ve coveted , reaches out and blesses and encourages me. His love is so intimate, freeing and kind of funny. I’m thankful you would read my blog, look at my website and love on me at a time He’s teaching me what it means to be his daughter in a new and deep way. Thank you for being his voice of love and encouragement."

She felt the same envy I did, only she was brave enough to admit it. Unlike me, she was aware of her jealousy, while I had been hanging out in envyland like it was a vacation destination—ready to stay awhile!

I responded immediately,

“Jealousy is a demon I, too, have struggled with so many times and have had to repent of countless times. I wish so much that I didn't struggle with it, but alas, I admit, I was totally coveting your clean beautiful site, your great story, your crisp topics, and your full speaking schedule!  All of it!  Isn't it crazy how we focus on what we don't have instead of what we do? Thank you for reminding me that it's not a competition, we are on the same team. We are all trying to share the message of Christ's love, and we need EVERY INDIVIDUAL VOICE.”

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Images by Kathleen Motoa

I love that my friend was working on shifting her identity. Her transparency helped me take stock of my own terrible bad habit (bondage she called it!) of envy. 

God doesn’t want my friend to be another Sarah.  Nor does he want me to be my friend.  

I believe God would embrace the sentiment of you do you.  He never intended for us to be anyone else than who he created us to be.  And he can’t get enough of us! 

Psalm 139 says it this way: 

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.  Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it...
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!
  Psalm 139:13-14,18a NLT

Many of us wish we had what others have, or that we could be like they are, or do what they do, or date someone like they date, or succeed in our career like they succeed, or parent like they parent, or dress like they dress, or work where they work, or have a body shape like theirs, or have as many followers as them on social media or… {insert your particular envy situation here}. 

But when we wish for something that’s not our own, whatever name you give it—envy, jealousy, coveting or comparison— it’s nothing short of unbecoming. 

Because our God uniquely knit us together to be individuals not carbon copies of someone else. 

In light of this, let’s embrace you do you with a God-like perspective.

Let’s be women who cheer for each other, not jeer behind the back of another.

Let’s be encouragers, not discouragers. 

Let’s be admirers, not creepers.

Let’s share one another’s successes, not just their social media posts.

Let’s look at each other and see the beauty God sees, not the faults the world sees.

Let’s be genuine, not partakers in spreading fake news. 

Let’s live out our purpose and passion with our eyes fixed on Jesus, not fixed on comparison of those around us.

Then, you do you won’t just be something the teens say these days, it will be something each of us live. 

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Sarah Beckman1 Comment