Matryoshka Dolls

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“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” —John 13:34, NIV

Matryoshka dolls are sets of beautiful wooden dolls, typically from Russia and Ukraine, in which each but the smallest hides one or more smaller dolls within.

My family and I have brought several sets of them home from our travels, and they are displayed on a shelf in our living room. My daughter needed a series of soft matryoshka dolls for the babies at church for a special occasion and asked me to help her with this sewing project. As I sewed them, I started musing about my first encounter with matryoshka dolls.

My family moved to England when I was eleven years old.

We traveled on a Russian ship from my native country of Finland to our new home country. My parents bought a matryoshka dolls from the ship’s souvenir shop, and I spent a lot of time opening the wooden dolls and putting them back into each other again.

The dolls are all painted in the same design and look like each other, except that each one is smaller than the previous doll, so they fit inside each other.

Our matryoshka dolls were painted in the traditional red and yellow, but somebody had made a mistake when the dolls were put together.

The second doll had a violet skirt and was obviously part of another set.

I was a child who wanted everything to be perfect, but the different doll always stuck out and spoiled my row of wooden dolls. It was the odd one out.

The odd doll was perfect in every way. It was made of the same wood and had the same form. Only the design and colors were different.

I played with all the dolls, even though one was different.

But it took me some time to accept the uniqueness of the odd doll and to realize that perhaps its differences were what made it more precious.

God could have created us all to look alike, just like the matryoshka dolls, but He did not. God loves diversity and does not expect us to be the same—we are all different, unique beings. He loves us even if we stick out from the others.

And that is why we should learn to appreciate the diversity of God’s children. We are all precious, and perhaps the differences in our opinions, cultures, and colors are what make us so dear to Him. Just as God loves us, we should love one another because we all belong to God.

Hannele Ottschofski

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