No - the power of The Ugly Duckling, the thing that's made it a classic, is in the way it resonates so deeply in our souls. A swan's egg by some strange set of events finds itself in a duck's nest in a farmyard. And so a swan is born into a family of ducks. No one really cares why, or even realises that it's happened.

Everyone just assumes he's meant to be a duck. And all of his little life, people reject him because for a duckling, he is one UGLY bird! Everyone misunderstands him. Everyone rejects him. And it hurts!

He's all alone. But amidst the bleakness and hopelessness of his world, there is one thing, just one, that makes his little spirit soar - have a listen:

One evening, just as the sun set amid radiant clouds, there came a large flock of beautiful birds out of the bushes. The duckling had never seen any like them before. They were swans, and they curved their graceful necks, while their soft plumage shone with dazzling whiteness. They uttered a singular cry, as they spread their glorious wings and flew away from those cold regions to warmer countries across the sea. As they mounted higher and higher in the air, the ugly little duckling felt quite a strange sensation as he watched them. He whirled himself in the water like a wheel, stretched out his neck towards them, and uttered a cry so strange that it frightened himself. Could he ever forget those beautiful, happy birds? And when at last they were out of his sight, he dived under the water, and rose again almost beside himself with excitement. He knew not the names of these birds, nor where they had flown, but he felt towards them as he had never felt for any other bird in the world. He was not envious of these beautiful creatures, but wished to be as lovely as they. Poor ugly creature, how gladly he would have lived even with the ducks had they only given him encouragement.

At that moment, he didn't yet know who he was. He just knew who he wanted to be, but because he didn't know who he was - who God had made him to be - he simply didn't have a license to go and be who he'd been made to be.

And even when he finally encounters those birds again, he thinks he's going to die. Surely … surely that can be the only outcome:

"I will fly to those royal birds," he exclaimed, "and they will kill me, because I am so ugly, and dare to approach them; but it does not matter: better to be killed by them than pecked by the ducks, beaten by the hens, pushed about by the maiden who feeds the poultry, or starved with hunger in the winter."

Then he flew to the water, and swam towards the beautiful swans. The moment they espied the stranger, they rushed to meet him with outstretched wings.

"Kill me," said the poor bird; and he bent his head down to the surface of the water, and awaited death.

Then, something happened that changed everything in an instant:

But what did he see in the clear stream below? His own image; no longer a dark, gray bird, ugly and disagreeable to look at, but a graceful and beautiful swan. To be born in a duck's nest in a farmyard is of no consequence to a bird, if it is hatched from a swan's egg.

And it's not until we see our image clearly - an image that reflects God Himself - that we discover how inconsequential the distorted images that the world's misunderstanding reflects back at us, in fact are.

That's the thing that Susan Boyle knew in her heart, when she walked out onto that stage.

And it's precisely the thing that God wants us to know, when we walk out onto the stage we call "life", for …

we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (NASB Ephesians 2:10)

That's why this book was written. That's what it's all about.

It's about discovering that we are indeed God's workmanship - you and I. It's about discovering who we are and what our purpose is, so that we can go and walk into the good works that God prepared beforehand for us to walk in, with a certainty and a quiet confidence in the knowledge that we're a perfect fit; that we're the right one for the job … no matter how daunting that job may at first appear.

Excerpted from My Personality GPS (Ark House Press). © 2009 Keith Henry + Berni Dymet. All rights reserved. Used with permission

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Original publication date: November 2, 2009