As a child I was very fond of the great Disney classic, Beauty and the Beast. There was just something about the idea of how a person’s kindness can transform another human being that stuck with me. And that library… oh that library… I am not a big reader but while everyone was dreaming of their prince charming, I was dreaming of that room with floor to ceiling bookcases and a rolling ladder. I will have a room like that one day.

And while I still carry a love for that great classic around with me like a young school girl, I will tell you a little secret- I am also a bit enchanted with the remakes of it, too.

I was reminded of this when doing the usual Hallmark Christmas movie marathon (please tell me I am not the only one here) and stumbled upon a few movies with a very familiar storyline, my new favorite being “Christmas Belle”. It had the fascinating collection of books, the man with a sorted history and abrasive personality, a woman whom was both beautiful and kind, and of course the house staff who all encouraged her not to leave when the owner of the house’s anger had gotten the best of him-all of my favorite elements- and yet there was still something missing.

No matter how similar they were, they were not the same.

They could never be the same.

I have seen the retelling and reimagining of stories that have been pulled off quite well (think Ever After) but I have also seen movies so desperate to be both the same story with a completely different cast that it was on the verge of painful to watch. They tried so hard to force an identical plot that it just became a cheap remake that will probably end up on Netflix or in the DVD bin at the Dollar Tree. It is not something to be cherished. Not something of great value. It is not, and never can be, the original- no matter how hard they try to make it so.

As the year draws to a close and we all gear up to refocus on new goals and resolutions for the upcoming year, it is my hope that we would all remember this.

That we would seek to keep our eyes focused on our dreams and our stories and not those of others, no matter how similar they sometimes can appear. Because we aren’t telling their story with our lives- we are telling our story.

Your story is unique and beautiful, your giftings and talents arranged the way they are- are completely your own. It is one thing to admire someone else’s life and another thing entirely to try and have it. Don’t do that, girls. Don’t put someone else as the goal for your 2016 and ask God to show you how to get there- because He won’t.

God is not concerned with how well you live out someone else’s dreams.

It can be so easy, so natural, to look around and see a person who has everything you want. Someone who has similar dreams and goals for their life, and think that you need to be doing or acquiring everything that they have, in order to be successful. You do not need their best friend, their family, their job, their team, their ways of doing ministry, their… whatever… to be fulfilled. You just need to ask God how to view/use your best friend, family, job, team, ways of doing ministry, and whatever else to accomplish the dreams God has given you.

I have a plethora of friends who adore teen girls ministry, and while I was caught up in trying to be like them and do ministry like them for so long, I have come to realize that copying their methods only makes me a cheap copy and short changes everyone involved. And God did not call me to be a copy.

Imitation is not the same as inspiration.

Let people inspire you. Let them push you to be a better you. Let them achieve success in their own lives without making you feel like a failure in yours. You are not them.

You are not going to do everything the way they do. And while we are on that topic, let’s stop being so critical of how everyone else does anything if it doesn’t line up with how we do it. Whether it’s fitness (crossfit or lifting weights or cardio or living an adventure filled life), ministry (small groups or big events or outreach), worship (eyes closed or hands raised or flag waving or dancing), parenting (homeschool or public school or private school), or any other thing that we do with our lives- it is ok if people do it differently. We are not copies. We are not going to do everything the same way. The only thing that matters is if what we are doing is pleasing to God and if we are doing it to please Him and not elevate ourselves.

The why is infinitely more important than the how.

So get inspired, get pumped up about the endless possibilities of what the New Year can hold. And then get alone with God and ask Him how He wants you to carry those dreams out. Decide that 2016 will be a year of resolutions, and not remakes.

John 21:20-23 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

Galatians 1:10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Paul describing why the church should not give in to false doctrine, because serving God rarely pleases people.)