by Martin Poehler
On an ordinary day, who would you expect to see pictured in the newspaper? Probably President Bill Clinton or Prime Minister Tony Blair, or the late Diana, Princess of Wales, or Pete Sampras who recently won the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament. We often respect and admire well-known people like these--and we can learn a lot from their lives as we read about them.
Why do we consider these people special? Because they do one thing extremely well, or belong to a special group. For instance, they may be excellent in politics, a particular sport, acting, music, or be part of royalty.
Newspapers Elevate Celebrities
Newspapers often feature these star personalities--at least partly to sell papers. Pages are devoted to these stars, covering their extraordinary talents, and the ordinary areas of their lives as well. For instance, sports stars or royalty are often photographed and shown while on vacation or going shopping. By treating as newsworthy the ordinary lives of these celebrities, newspapers elevate these people to a very high level--giving the rest of us the impression they are special in EVERY way, not just in the way we best know them.
This practice sells newspapers--otherwise publishers wouldn't continue it. Why are many people fascinated, and in some cases obsessed, with the lives of much-photographed people like Leonardo Dicaprio, Paul McCartney and Arnold Schwarzenegger? It's partly because some of us feel our lives are humdrum and inconsequential to others, and to ourselves. It's easy to dwell on the apparently exciting lives of movie stars or music stars to help us forget our own difficulties or boredom. Celebrities' lives can sometimes inspire and teach us. But too often they cause us to live in a fantasy world, and distract us from dealing honestly with important issues in our own life.
Your Individual Value
Though sometimes we feel we are of little worth, something else deep within us tells us we are very valuable indeed. Have you ever known someone who didn't respect you? But you still probably wouldn't agree with them that you didn't merit respect as a person. We each seem to have a deep sense that we are unique, and have worth. This is because it's true! One book expresses it this way: "I am fearfully and wonderfully made." 1 No one else is the same as the wonderful person who is you, and nobody ever will be just like you. You have been made by God a different person from everyone else in the world. You feel you deserve personal respect and that you're unique, because you are unique. There is no one exactly like you.
Your Special Life
It's clear the people we see day after day in the newspapers are unique too. Also it's apparent to us they can do something no one else can do. This makes them special. But we are special too--because we do at least one or two things that no one else will ever have the chance to do in just the way we do! No one else will ever do the job you have now just the way you do it, as you bring to it your own special talents. No one else will ever raise your children or talk to people you meet in the way you have the chance to do now. And this is meant to be only the start of things. The Bible says, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." 2 There are specific things--"works"-- that God wants you to do which no one else can do. God has prepared them now for you to perform and enjoy. The benefit of this will be felt by God, by others, and by you. If you get to know this God who made you, He will help you see what those things are, and show you how to act them out in your life. The life that we each have to live is truly a special one, carefully prepared for us by God.
We can view our lives in one of two ways. We can see others who are lauded for their success, dote on them, and say to ourselves, "They are the lucky ones. They are special, and much better than I am. To others and myself I am ordinary and worth little." Or we can see that the God who made us has a specific plan for our lives, with things prepared for us that only we can do, as He guides us. If we choose to "live vicariously", letting ourselves get wrapped up emotionally in the lives of the rich and famous, we and the world will miss out on the significant life we were meant to have. What a tragedy that would be! Instead you and I have "the opportunity of a lifetime"--to discover the special lives we each were meant to live.
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