I went on a hike with my family Saturday morning at a nearby forest preserve, and I was delighted to find that the trails were covered in dandelions. Most of the dandelions were at the height of their seed stage, with fluffy white balls lining our path.

If I had witnessed the same sight in my front yard, I would have seen the plants as annoying and ugly. But out in the wild, they felt serene and magical.

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Who can resist plucking a puffy seeding dandelion from its stem and blowing the gentle floating helicopters into the wind? But at the same time, watching those seeds drift through the air brings a pang of guilt that I have contributed to the spread of this relentless weed.

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I thought it was interesting that depending on the context, I can look at this same plant and see it as flower or weed. In one setting, it is a strongly rooted pest. In another, the flowers create a peaceful backdrop.

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The dandelions reminded me of myself and something I’ve thought a lot about this year. It’s the idea of being “free.”

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It’s true for most people that our greatest strengths can also be our worst weaknesses. Depending on context and application, the qualities that makes us lovable, productive and valued can also be irritating, annoying or frustrating.

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For most of my life, people have told me that I am “too much.” I can be too analytical, too driven, too sensitive, too emotional or too fill-in-the-blank. As a result, I’ve carefully crafted a version of myself that is more acceptable to the general public. I’ve worked hard to tone myself down or contain my thoughts and emotions. I’ve tried to hide thoughts or ideas that might be “too much.”

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At the end of 2019, I was convicted that these habits of trying to water myself down were keeping me from becoming the person God created me to be. Don’t misunderstand me. There are many areas where I need to be refined and learn self discipline. Some of my areas of “too much” aren’t healthy or positive.

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What I’m talking about is a constant need to be concerned about whether people see me as a flower or a weed. By doing this, I bottle up not only the negative side of who I am, but also my strengths. I create obstacles and barriers to hold myself back so I don’t risk coming across too strong.

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God has been teaching me this year that I’m not too much for Him. I’m always wonderfully created in His eyes. I don’t have to pretend to be something that I’m not. He is teaching me about being “free” to live out the person He created without constantly apologizing for who I am. If I end up looking like a weed to some people, that’s OK. And if others can see the flower, it doesn’t matter either.

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How others see me isn’t the point. It’s about me fully embracing who I’m meant to be.

So, thanks to the dandelions this weekend for the reminder that I can be confident in who I am, without worrying about what other people see.

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