This week I was meeting with a colleague from another denomination. I was sharing some of my struggles with not being able to accomplish all that I want in the church during the pandemic. She wondered aloud if I might be suffering from “terminal uniqueness.” She was borrowing the words from the twelve step movement used when an addict believes he or she is different from other persons who struggle with substance abuse. This condition is also called “personal exceptionalism”- basically the rules don’t apply to you or your situation is somehow different from others. It reflects an unhelpful pride which can prevent one from adopting practices which have helped others in your situation or from avoiding practices which have proven to be harmful to someone in your situation- because basically you are so special that no one is in your situation or has your abilities.
However, for me, she meant it to indicate that often I feel that I am the ONLY ONE who can do what I do. I am that special! But because I am that special I feel guilt when I leave things undone or make a mistake because the world depends upon me to stay on its axis. While it is true that each of us is gifted and we are Something special to God, it is equally true that we are not the only ones with gifts in the world. We are Something but we are not Everything. We can make mistakes, we can admit when we need help and we can even take a day off. We can do all those things and the world will still spin on its axis.
Of course, if I take a week off, the planet may spin out of control and we might all die in a collision with another planet….
My sense of uniqueness may not be terminal but it is mighty persistent :)
Relax, God has got this!