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Sandra Turley

September 12, 2012

On a trip to Utah last fall, I made a quick stop into Café Rio. Until recently, we did not have Café Rio on the east coast, so taking a trip to Utah not only meant mountains, Temple Square, and ultra-nice people everywhere, but it also meant at least one delicious pilgrimage to dive my face into a gorgeous, heaping bowl of cilantro-ranch-dressing smothered pork salad. Mm-mmm.

But I digress. 

I walked into Café Rio. I stood in a long lunch hour line. A girl about my age was in front of me. She had straight blonde hair like mine. Skinny jeans and knee high brown boots like mine. A cute handbag like mine. She began to place her order: “A pork salad please….with shredded lettuce….everything but guacamole…to go…just water...thank you.” Then it was my turn: “A pork salad please…with shredded lettuce…everything but guacamole…to go…just water…thank you.” 

No, I was not copying her – that is my same order every single time, as it probably is hers. I just had to laugh. Usually I have a solid strong sense of individual worth, but in that moment in line at Café Rio, I felt like nothing more than a carbon copy of every other knee high boot wearing blonde girl in Utah Valley.

You see, I have this little problem. I LOVE being different. My sense of individual worth was founded on the basic truth that I was individually different from nearly everyone around me in my youth. I have lived the majority of my life on the east coast. My religion has made me a minority in almost all of my social dealings. In high school, I was one of a small handful of LDS students.  At work I was usually the only member. In our community, my family was one of few Mormon families with which anyone had come in contact. To some, this may sound hard, but to others, it sounds perfect. For my spirit, it was the perfect atmosphere for me to truly learn and accept the gospel that had been taught to me by my parents. In those pivotal teenage years when we must start to stand for what we believe, I found strength in standing alone. My testimony grew because it was mine and it was unique from all of my peers.

At 17, when I moved to Utah to attend BYU, my testimony was actually shaken rather than strengthened. It was like my Café Rio experience times a ka-trillion. Everywhere I turned there was a girl that looked like me, dressed like me, sang like me, believed like me, prayed like me, had the same countenance as me. So I doubted. How could I feel special and individual if everyone else was special and individual just like me? 

I have pondered this question and I have studied and learned an essential truth. Individual worth is measured by our Creator, not by our peers. Heavenly Father knows our worth, and He knows what makes us different from all of His other children. He is delighted that we are different. But He is also delighted that we are the same. We were all created in His image. If we choose to follow Him, we will all be like Him. We will believe like Him, look like him, have a countenance like Him. When I look at it from His point of view, I am not bothered. Instead, I am honored that I look and feel and think and pray like so many other women in the world. I am honored that there are so many of us all over the world that claim our testimonies of Jesus Christ as the similarity that ties us together. 

Whether we look the same on the outside or not, we feel the same as we speak of Christ. This must make our Heavenly Father so profoundly pleased with us, His children. And though I LOVE being different, I have now found that I also LOVE being the same.