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Pushing Past Fear

Pushing Past Fear by Claiming Your Distinct Nature

“It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are.”

e.e. cummings

No one is normal.

Normal is just a theory, an idea.  It does not exist.

So why do we work so hard to “fit in?”


We fear being seen as different  or unusual.  We don’t want to experience scorn or derision.  The problem is that the scorn and derision that we fear is also driven by… fear.  It’s a nasty and destructive cycle.

A lot of people talk about how they value of being different, but their actions betray their core beliefs.  We have all experienced seasons, sometimes lifetimes, of people trying to force us to “fit in.”

It is not easy being different. Some environments and groups always see deviation from their expectations as dangerous  and wrong, so they move against you hard.

But it’s more dangerous  to stay ordinary.

That’s what management guru Tom Peters says.  “The White Collar revolution will wipe out indistinct workers and reward the daylights out of those with True Distinction.”  He is saying that the only wise move is to embrace what is distinct about you. Highlight those things about you that are singular, different, extraordinary and unique.

“I am fearfully and wonderfully made…”

Ps. 139:14

Do you believe this?

We are going to explore deeper in the next post, but for today, I want to talk about what makes you different from most people.

And I want to start with some fun stuff.

Here is part of my list:

  • I am 5′ 5″.  I refer to it as being aggressively short.  I accentuate this feature with my love of Chuck Taylors.
  • I am an enormous music geek, more than anyone else I know.  I have owned over 10,000 different titles in all media for the past 36 years.
  • I was born on an Air Force Base, while my dad was on active duty.  Bergstrom AFB , in Austin Texas.
  • My college buddy Rex Hackler and I started the trend of two-man bands – guitar and drums, like the White Stripes and the Black Keys.  I was the drummer who couldn’t play drums.  We called ourselves the Rex Pistols.
  • I can take you to the exact geographical point in the road where I knew I would marry my wife.  It’s a sweet story, and too long to go into here.
  • I’ve only been good at two of my many jobs.  Being a pastor and being a bartender.  Draw your own conclusions.  (I looked for statistics on the number of American who serve as pastors.  Or serve as bartenders.  Found no useful information.  But the number of us who have done both is miniscule.)
  • I read more than 50 books a year.  Most people aren’t even close to this number.  The national average is four.  27% don’t read even one book.
  • I was the Norseman King my senior year in high school.  I won the crown when the late actor Dudley Moore selected my Senior photo out of all the men in my class as the “most photogenic.”  (I could not make this up.)
  • I cannot sleep if the sheets are not straightened out.  I have  caused my wife Jody untold frustration with this idiosyncrasy over our 20 year marriage.
  • I have two daughters.  As a result, I am quite skilled at putting in ponytails.

What about you?  What makes you rare and distinctive?  Don’t be shy, shout it out in the comments and share with us.


About Bill Todd

Bill Todd is a spiritual director and speaker living in Franklin TN. He is patiently loved by Jody Todd, and their children Kaleigh, Hannah, and Liam.


16 thoughts on “Pushing Past Fear by Claiming Your Distinct Nature

  1. Bill thanks so much for linking to be in this post. I love that quote by e.e.cummings.

    Posted by ayngelina | April 7, 2011, 6:23 am
  2. Oh Lord,how do I top Dudley Moore.

    What makes me totally unique. Okay, here I go.

    I am a germaphobe but it is more pronounced during the Church Handshake which totally freaks me out and causes me to go immediately wash my hands.

    I can recite on cue the sit, kneel, stand progression of the Catholic Church. Based on many years of being an alter boy.

    I cannot sing but can hear in perfect pitch which is only a trait that about 1 in 10 million possess. Great for helping record music but no so great for listening as I can pick up every tiny little flaw…literally.

    I can tell you the date, time and location of my very first date with my wife plus blurt out my exact number of years married and date. Plus I can do it faster than my wife. Now that is a trait no man can top 🙂

    I met my wife at a Santa Clause Booth in a Mall. She was an elf and I was getting my picture taken for a work thing. Yep, I married Santa’s helper. Plus, Santa came to my wedding. Totally, no joke.

    Me and my daughter are in a country music video for 3 1/2 seconds.

    I remember tons of random and bizarre facts that I often blurt out if a question is asked. The problem is I can never recall where I know it from so I often question my own correct answer to only find out I was correct. And no, I do not think I am always right.

    I was raised just south of the Canadian border and still use the word eh frequently….especially during hockey season. Go Preds Eh?

    Posted by Joseph | April 7, 2011, 10:54 am
  3. Hmmmm.
    – I am an only child and come from a generation (on both sides of the family) that is completely female. Having two boys was quite shocking for me! But because of how I grew up I never once heard “you can’t do that, you’re a girl”. I saw few distinctions between gender roles in my family. We were always encouraged to be anything we felt God calling us to be. We all worked side by side. I was shocked and horrified by limitations I had put on me later in life due to my gender.

    – I got married at 18, 9 days after high school graduation, to my best friend. We’ve been married 27 years in June and have three adult children. And no, I don’t regret it. It’s been a joy.

    – I am a true southern girl. I have lived my entire life in Alabama and Georgia. I am proud that I say “fixin’ to”, drink sweet tea, eat bbq, and am a rabid Bama fan. Roll Tide!

    – I love to travel. I love discovering and exploring new places. I’ve been to 38 U.S. states and 13 countries. I feel very connected to God when I see his creativity in the world and people around me!

    – I love making music with friends. It’s a truly spiritual thing for me to sing or play with friends. This is one of my favorite things. Right now I am getting to do this some at our local Downtown Rescue Mission – leading worship for an addiction recovery group. I also work with worship leaders in other countries and even if I can’t understand the words, I always feel God’s presence when we worship together.

    – I am an avid reader. I’ve read every single Agatha Christie book plus a gazillion more. I do tend to get bogged down in non-fiction books as I tend to camp out in one chapter til I “get it right”. (which I rarely do)

    – I wish I knew how to really dance. And had someone to dance with. I think I would love this but I’m not sure my husband is up for it! haha

    – I love the beach. Nothing calms my soul like walking on the beach, wading in the waves, hearing the surf….

    – I am enormously sensitive. Which can be a blessing and also – on some days – feel like a curse. I’ve always wished there was an on/off switch for this!

    – I am not particularly enormously talented in any one way. I can do many things with some skill, but I think my skills are more people and relation oriented than having particular talents.

    Posted by jan owen | April 7, 2011, 1:38 pm
  4. What an inspiration….to write about who I am….if only I could figure out who I am.
    Thanks, Bill. Good writing, thoughtful and point-blank fun.

    Posted by Amy Harkness | April 7, 2011, 4:35 pm
  5. I love what you have been writing lately. You’ve been challenging and inspiring me on many different levels.

    So what makes me, me?
    I’m 5 feet 12 inches, as a friend used to tell me. 🙂
    My grandfather always called me Michael. I used to think he wanted the first grandchild to be a boy. It wasn’t until many years later I realized it was his way of showing affection and keeping the “european” side alive in our family.
    My grandfather (mentioned above) and grandmother, mother & aunt survived the Japanese concentration camps during world war 2. Had they not, I wouldn’t be here today. Thankfully he took the time to write the family history out too. I think that’s where some of my passion for writing comes from.
    My other grandfather was a writer too. And friends with Art Buchwald. I wish I had spent more time listening to the advice he shared.
    I love to read. I could spend weeks locked in a library and be completely happy.
    I once was a bartender. And a cocktail waitress. And out of all the jobs I had, I enjoyed those the most. I met some truly fascinating people. And if I think back on it long enough, I’d probably have some good story ideas too.
    I once met Stevie Ray Vaughn and absolutely stuck my foot in my mouth in front of him. He was a gentleman about it though. And we were both able to laugh at it.
    I lived in the south for 14 years, but never felt I belonged. Still don’t know exactly where I belong yet.

    Posted by Michelle | April 7, 2011, 7:26 pm
    • You learn a lot about yourself and the world closing a bar at 2 in the morning, night after night. Not sure that there is any other training ground like it.

      I am fascinated by the fact that both Grandfathers were writers. And the gift of writing out your family history.

      I want to encourage you to write about your family’s experiences in the concentration camps. My former pastors mom survived the same experience as a young girl. These stories (as well as our own) need to be told.

      Posted by Bill Todd | April 7, 2011, 7:52 pm
      • I would advise almost anyone to work in a bar/restaurant setting at least once in their lifetime. It teaches valuable lessons on dealing with people of all walks of life, not just those that we choose to surround ourselves with.

        I’ve considered writing about my family history, but I’d have to do it somewhere other than my blog. Too many family members read on a regular basis and some still have issues dealing with the trauma inflicted so many years ago. Perhaps someday.

        Posted by Michelle | April 7, 2011, 9:12 pm
  6. I had forgotten about the Dudley Moore thing but remember moving to Parsons in 7th grade and you telling me that I needed to listen to Aerosmith. Most pastors don’t have the shared experience of listening to Zappa’s “Joe’s Garage” together and I have recently had the experience of playing the riff from “Breaking the Law” while inside a prison… Whenever I am in big cities…any big city…I still get the “what am I doing here, I can’t believe I am here” feeling.
    Definitely look forward to your posts. They brighten the day and sometimes cause me to actually think about stuff.

    Posted by M.R. Kidwell | April 7, 2011, 7:34 pm
  7. I had some Zappa playing this past weekend. and Breaking the Law is one of the few riffs that I can actually play on guitar. Or kazoo.

    I follow the work you are doing in the prison, and I always think the same thing – God puts the right man in the right place at the right time to care for those He loves.

    Posted by Bill Todd | April 7, 2011, 7:55 pm
  8. I am intellectually unbalanced a gift of words and both inter and intra personal people skills.

    I believe I can spot a feeling at 10 paces, the bummer is the accuracy rate is not perfect, which causes bad judgement.

    I am married to my.polar opposite, which helps more than I know

    I adore people who blurt things out: like the old man who told me they take away his pens in the nursing home,.he became giddy when I gave him one, so tucking him in my vast cage of characters, he will emerge

    I cannot blush, I admire this skill in others

    Going to keep pondering this as I finish my wine. Love you and the posts.

    Posted by Tina b | April 7, 2011, 8:42 pm

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