Sep 22

The movie “The Incredibles” took a fascinating approach to superheroes.  The film took a different perspective on what it means to be “special.”  Specifically, the villain in the story resented the fact that some people possessed superhuman powers while other people were ordinary.  His “evil plan” was to use technology to give everyone superhuman abilities.  He chillingly explains at one point, “When everyone is super, no one will be.”

I have come to learn that the same is true of relationships.

Many of us are looking for that thing that makes us different, that makes us special.  We wonder what it is about us that people value and how we can know that we are valued for who we are.

How do you show someone that they are more special to you than other people?  How do you show someone that you value them more than you value others?  How do people know that you love them?  How does a person know that you value him or her differently from other people?

Suppose you love a person, but the way you demonstrate that love is the same way you demonstrate love to other people.  How does that person know that they are truly special to you?  How does that person know that they have unique value in your life, rather than simply being “one of” the people you care about?  How does your best friend know that they are more special to you than your other friends?  How do your friends know they are more special to you than general acquaintances?

If you don’t have ways that you show that distinction, then they probably don’t know their value to you.  They are “special” – just like everyone else.

Imagine that you feel close to me and believe that we share a unique relationship.  If our relationship is unique, then it should look different from other relationships in your life and in my life.  Maybe I give you hugs and call you by a pet name.  Maybe we have a special handshake.  Now suppose that one day you see me do the exact same thing with someone else – I hug them, call them by the same pet name, and give them the same handshake.  You probably don’t feel as special as you did before.

It reminds me of a scene from “Jingle All the Way.”  In the movie, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character has phone calls with several of his business clients.  At the end of each call, he tells them “You are my number one customer!”

When everyone is “number one”, no one is.  If you love everyone the same way, or relate to everyone the same way, people won’t feel loved.  They won’t feel different or special to you.  Instead, they’ll feel replaceable.  Or maybe your care and concern will feel more like a formula instead of something genuine and truly special.

I know how that feels.  I don’t like it.  You probably know how it feels, too.

I believe it’s important that people know they are uniquely loved and valued.  I don’t want any of the people I cherish to feel like they are replaceable.  I want to have something special with each of them.  I want them to know that we have a thing that is just ours, that I don’t share with just anyone.  And for the most special of people, I reserve things specifically for just them.  It could be a game or activity that I only do with that person.  It could be a special hug or handshake, or a special pet name.  It could be a restaurant or café where I only go when I’m with that person.

This is important to me because I have experienced those times when something I thought was unique to me was shared with someone else.  And I have been guilty of doing the same thing, hurting someone whom I love deeply.  It creates a rift, a wound in the relationship.  I have had those times when I questioned my uniqueness to someone as I watched them share or do something that I thought was just for the two of us.  And I have hurt someone by doing the same thing.

It doesn’t take many times of this before we wonder if we’re really special, or if we’re just like everyone else.

Imagine me telling you that you’re the most important person in the world to me and yet you can’t find anything that I say or do that is unique to you.  There isn’t anything that seems to be reserved for just you.  Wouldn’t it make you wonder if you’re really that important?  Wouldn’t it leave you feeling like there’s somebody else with whom I’m sharing the same things?

If you hear me tell lots of people that I love them, what does it mean when I tell you I love you?  If I send a special card “just because” but then you learn I do that with lots of people, do you still feel special?

Maybe this isn’t important to you, but it is to me.  I crave this uniqueness and I try to give it to people.  I give it because I know how precious it is to me.  When I’m close to someone, I want to feel like nobody else can take my place.  Part of how I know that is by seeing and knowing that this person treats me differently than they do anyone else.

We often refer to the loss of this as “cheating.”  Cheating is when someone we love takes something that we thought was uniquely ours and they share it with someone else.  “Cheating” isn’t something unique to marriages or “significant others.”  Cheating can happen in any relationship — friends, family, and coworkers can all experience cheating.

I am learning that the more you love someone, the more special they are to you, the more important it is to give uniqueness to that relationship.  That uniqueness gives a clarity that few other things can.  It distinguishes the relationship from others.  It makes it clear that it matters to you.  It helps to remove doubts and it gives them reassurance as they see you guard and defend that uniqueness.

In other words, the more someone matters to you, the more important it is that you find ways that show them that they are more important than others.  I’m becoming increasingly convinced that this must be deliberate and that it must be carefully protected.  The enemy will go out of its way to show you and those you love that you’re not special – you’re just like everyone else.

Find ways to create and preserve the uniqueness of the people who matter to you.  Give them a commitment of some kind because they are worth it and you want them to know.  Here are some ideas:

  • I will never watch an episode of this show with anyone but you
  • I will never call anyone but you by this term of endearment
  • I will never engage in this activity with anyone but you
  • I will never eat at this restaurant with anyone but you
  • I will never make this dessert for anyone but you
  • I am setting aside this time every week to spend with you

Get the picture?  Be creative and be sincere.  Come up with something meaningful.

Commitments like these create space for someone you love.  It gives them a niche, a place of their own, that you share only with them.  And when you share it with them, you remind them that that you love them and that you have something unique with them.  Something that you value and that you want to preserve.

When you cheat, when you give that special thing to someone else, you put that someone else on equal footing.  It tells your loved one that this other person is just as special, just as important.  Or maybe more so.

Suppose I promise you that I will never make brownies for anyone but you.  What do you know when I make brownies?  Who are they for?  What was I thinking when I made them?  Who was I thinking of?  YOU, of course!

But what if I give the brownies to someone else, even if only once?  What can you know the next time I make brownies?  They might be for you.  The uniqueness, the specialness, is tainted – perhaps even lost.

If you’ve ever loved someone or felt close to someone, then you’ve probably also felt “cheated on.”  There has been a time when you felt like they chose someone or something else over you.  There has been a time when you felt like they gave to someone else what you thought was yours alone.  They have made you feel unimportant.  They have made you feel like you weren’t special to them at all.

If you have ever felt that, then I want to leave you with two thoughts:

  1. Do everything you can to prevent those you love from feeling that way.
  2. Realize that you cheat on God all the time.


  1. Candy

    Thank you I needed to hear that.

    • I’m so glad. To my surprise, I have received more positive feedback on this post than practically anything else I’ve written.

  2. Elaine

    Wow! Great thoughts, but I would have expected nothing less! You got me on your last “thought.” Its going to being me back to ruminate on it again and again! Thank You!!!

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