Dressing my three preschool sons alike seemed sensible at the time. It made clothes shopping easier, for one, and because they were brothers with similar builds and complexions, they looked good in the same clothes. At home it gave a sense of order, however superficial, to a household with three little boys in perpetual motion, and in public it showcased what I was sure was the most adorable set of kids ever. On a deeper level, it appealed to my sense of equity. I didn’t love one above the others, and had determined to never say or do anything that might cause them to think otherwise; I would treat them impartially in all things, big and small.

But as soon as they got old enough to make more of their own choices, coordinated clothes were out. As their individual needs changed and became more diverse, I found I continually needed to adapt and change how I gave each one my love and support. I still didn’t love one more or less than the others, but I couldn’t always treat them the same.

Now that those boys are grown men, in many respects they could hardly be more different from one another. My early attempts to establish uniformity now seem pure folly, and I thank God for giving each of them the sense to pursue his own interests, develop his own skills, and become his own person. Each probably has some things that he would like to change about himself—there’s always room for improvement—but I love them dearly just as they are.

That’s how God loves us. We compare ourselves unfavorably with others, or we fuss over something about ourselves that we don’t like, but all the while He’s trying to tell us, “I love you the way you are. If something needs to change, I’ll let you know and will help you change that, but otherwise just be your special self.” If we could all believe that, how happy we would be!