THE SUNDAY SERMONETTE February 19, 2023. When I was a child in the late 50s, I often spent languid summers with my sweet Granny from D’Lo, who, at that time, lived in Jackson, Mississippi. Early mornings crackled with the smell of frying eggs and bacon, but the afternoons were awash in the sickly-sweet smell of pink cotton candy and hot roasted peanuts. The afternoon air echoed with the sound of screeching Macaws, squealing monkeys, and the occasional lion’s roar; the Jackson Zoo was a favorite of mine.

Before leaving for the zoo, Granny packed a shoebox with cold chicken and deviled eggs. (A growing boy is always hungry.) A thermos of cold sweet tea helped wash it all down. As she sat on a bench under one of the zoo’s ancient, cathedral-like oaks, I roamed the grounds, a happy, inquisitive child always looking for something new and exciting. One day, I found it.

Strutting with their long, feathered tails of iridescent blue and green, I spotted an ostentation of peacocks. They were strolling under a vine-encrusted grotto of red and yellow running roses, their plaintive cries filling the air. As they sauntered in their regal majesty, I spotted it. Something new, entirely different—a snowy-white peacock! I was mesmerized. It was so distinct and unusual that I could not take my eyes off it. However, the other peacocks strutted away from the white one, and then, very much alone, it flew into a tree, as if hurt by their dismissal due to it being so different.

Are you different? Like the white peacock, do you wish you weren’t shunned by others? Are your feelings crushed by their jeers, their taunts? Do you wish they could understand what it means to be different? How difficult it is not to be like everyone else? However, did you pause and think that perhaps being different isn’t bad? It could signify bravery; it means you’re brave enough to be yourself. By being yourself, with all your God-given talents, you might create something extraordinary in life that’s never been seen before.

And if you are different, never forget what God says in the Good Book: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; Before you were born, I sanctified you.” You should praise Him because you are fearfully and wonderfully made! So embrace your difference. Smile kindly at those who laugh at you. Remember, they are not as strong and talented as you. And not so fearfully and wonderfully made.

Ponder this and go forth.