I have lots of people in my life who are very different from me. I have friends who are professional, starched, button-down, pressed & who have life wrapped around their little finger mostly. I have other friends who are a little more like me, less polished & borderline bohemian.
But loving well is the bridge that connects me with people regardless of our differences. And here’s the truth that needs to reside in the marrow of our bones: people don’t have to be like us to be loved by us. Indeed, Jesus loved a wide spectrum of people, including cheats, hustlers, liars, whimps & wannabes. Loving people is an internal decision & this doesn’t need to be dependent on who they are, what they do or how they behave. Let’s be committed to loving well!
“You’re not going to North Korea are you?” I was driving my kids to school this morning & made a phone call to another ministry about some cool opportunities in North Korea. My kids immediately asked this question when I hung up & I assured them that I’m not going there this year. But it still sounds like an incredible opportunity to me!
Alas, not everyone thinks like I do & that’s altogether fantastic! Seems to me that God has uniquely created us for distinct purposes & designs. Some people are attracted to stable, predictable & familiar. Some folk have a little wanderlust in their souls. Some of us are pioneers & more than a little maverick-y. But each follower of Jesus has valid contributions to make to His kingdom!
Just because I’m different than you doesn’t make me superior or inferior any more than you are superior or inferior to me! Let’s remember that we are essential parts of one Body & we desperately need each other to fulfill our unique & divine purposes! I’m celebrating you today!!
Normally, the day before Thanksgiving our family goes skiing since we live fairly close to some epic vertical. But alas, today we are electing for the flatland because there’s almost no snow & the few runs that are open don’t tempt us enough to take the plunge.
Seems to me that change can be challenging to navigate but we need to change for lots of reasons:
Change indicates that we’re alive & not moribund in static rigamortis
We don’t grow if we’re unwilling to change
Change affords new adventures, delights, joys & discoveries
Our souls stay supple when we are willing to change, letting God love through us more thoroughly
Do you ever feel like you’re out of synch with the people around you? This is an uncomfortable feeling, but it’s also possible that the people around you need you to be out of synch.
I say this because of reading about Paul in a massive storm in Acts 27. When everyone had virtually given up hope of surviving the storm, Paul offered everyone hope. When everyone hadn’t eaten for like 14 days, Paul broke bread & told them to eat. When everyone couldn’t see past the immediate circumstances, Paul told them they’d survive & make it safely to land.
Maybe we should think about staying out of step rather than conforming to everyone around us. In my thinking, the best way to do this is to stay in step with the Holy Spirit, Gal 5:14 🙂
I seriously love to watch people. I love to watch their facial expressions, the way they interact with others, the creative clothing combinations and lots more! I love to see that despite our best efforts to fit in, we each have our distinct individuality – reflections of our infinitely creative Divine Designer. When I listen to people, I hear ideas & perspectives that I’ve never considered before, leaving me sometimes awestruck.
All of this leaves me fully appreciating the reality that we are each fearfully & wonderfully made, in the image of God, valuable far beyond any human estimation or transaction. All of this originates from the fundamental premise that we are unconditionally loved by our Creator.
Straightaway, let me be clear that stereotypes are inherently inaccurate by their very nature. But with that caveat, I’ve seen a fair amount of advice, blogs & comments about dealing with introverts, those prickly & possibly cranky or awkwardly quiet thinkers who sometimes lack diplomacy or communication skills.
In contrast, however, I haven’t seen much about extroverts & here are some introvert observations about extroverts, who can be very wonderful:
They engage rather than evaporate
They communicate rather than go silent
Often friendly more than sulky
They push comfort zones
They usually meet people well
Have verbal skills that can be admirable
Often do adventures with ease & enthusiasm
Suffice it to say that we are each made with divine creativity, fearfully & wonderfully made for fellowship with God & expressing genuine love in our daily living 🙂
My stellar husband cleaned our home office, which had turned into the dumping zone for hiding clutter when guests would come over. This space in our home is also where our kids practice their instruments & we keep the majority of the books I use from time to time. So be clear that entering this room was a hazardous adventure, using politically correct terminology ,)
My husbands way of organizing is to pull EVERYTHING out & then sort through stuff – this can be kind of messy. My way of organizing is to take small parts & deal with them where they are, putting them where they belong a little bit at a time. So over this past weekend, the tripping hazards were plenteous.
Here’s my takeaway lesson: different isn’t always better or worse, it’s just different. When I think about the differences between Joshua & Moses in the Bible, neither was a better or more effective person, they just had different ways of doing things , largely because they had different divine assignments. Let’s be careful not to evaluate people based on our filter, call or methodology ,)
Different isn’t better or worse, necessarily. It’s often just different 🙂
We all gravitate to what is comfortable to us, often at the expense of trusting & depending on God – pause & think about what that means in your life.
For me, this means that I enjoy experiencing God in a sunrise, hearing the whispers of God’s voice in the Bible alluring me to come closer & losing my self in experiencing God on a snowboard or walking among prostitutes in a red light district in Asia. What isn’t comfortable for me is being intermingled with hyper extroverts, amped up on caffeine & red bull. It also stresses me out to have innumerable “weather conversations” without some deeper anchors & topics that get my feet in the dirt with substance & authenticity.
Even though I like a conversation that’s earthy & grounded, often when I want to walk closer with Jesus, I have to leave the ground & boat, joining Jesus on the water – away from whats comfortable & cozy in my natural leaning.
When we walk with Jesus, it’s not always where we are most comfy & cozy but rather upended & transformed. Let’s keep walking, even when it’s on the water, as long as it’s with Jesus 🙂
Ok I’m totally adapting from Jesus’ beatitudes so don’t think I’ve suddenly become a heretic – I just think there’s a boatload of value in staying flexible. I think it’s important to be flexi in lots of ways: time, our talents & how we use them, relationships, various foods & even how we use our money. Being flexible is easier in life than rigidity & the unavoidable breaking that goes with being inflexible.
Some things, however, aren’t up for the agility treatment, things like Jesus staying number 1, loving well, forgiving proficiently & keeping a generous heart – all of these are deep pier non/negotiables
So how to stay flexi? Here are a few ideas:
*be up to try new things (foods, experiences, meeting new people, reading different books, etc) without a negative predisposition
*think of mistakes & failures as practice rather than options to quit
*consider some ways that you could do things a little different than what’s common or normal (fasting, come to Cambodia with Saving Moses this July, volunteer in a way that you can’t be repaid)
This picture is my breakfast 🙂
We do alot of our shopping at Walmart because it’s cheap, close and convenient. The quality, however, can sometimes be a little questionable. For example, when I buy socks for my boys, I’ve learned that if I buy them from Walmart, I’ll usually have to buy 2-3 times the number of socks (holes, rips, etc) as if I buy a higher quality & little costlier brand from a different store. Consumer grade socks for my boys from Walmart usually have a pretty short lifespan in the world of boy socks 🙂
Unfortuanately, I think we sometimes treat Christianity with the same level of function. We want cheap, close and convenient: Jesus in the manger, candle light service in less than an hour, the cross, tomb, July 4th and the next thing. With this kind of thinking, it’s not a surprise that someone could easily be disillusioned, misled and / disappointed with the consumer grade version of Christianity, if such a thing really exists.
So here are some thoughts to consider:
does your faith facilitate more function from or attachment with Jesus?
is your faith in Jesus based on consumption, sacrifice and / or transformation?
is Jesus an accessory or a necessity in your life?
maybe consumer grade Christianity is only a Satan contrived deception to the authentic, daily and life-changing relationship with Jesus that will most certainly include sacrifice, fertilizer and resurrection 🙂
Yesterday, my daughter & I had an interesting conversation while driving for groceries. She let me know that girls are more emotional than boys. While she’s telling me this, my two sons are in the back seat hitting, poking, pinching and generally harassing each other. In the conversation with my daughter, I explained that girls aren’t necessarily more emotional than boys, but their emotional expressions are often different than boys – not bad or good, just different. And that’s the rub: when someone is different than ourselves, let’s be careful not to throw them in the “weirdo” category and outrightly dismiss them. God has taught me a lot through all kinds of people, most of whom are very different than myself.
If someone is “different” from you, here are a few helpful ideas:
respect – be respectful even if you disagree & remember that treating someone with respect & dignity is based on your decisions more than their behaviors 🙂
listen – I like what Stephen Covey said: seek first to understand & then to be understood
enjoy – differences are perhaps the greatest evidence of how creative God is & perhaps part of how God continues to capture our curiosity 🙂
I was reading this morning about how Jesus hung out with tax collectors, sinners, prostitutes and disreputable people. In their best moments, the religious leaders of Jesus’ day thought that His choices for social interactions was weird. More often, the religious leaders were “unhappy” with Jesus’ social choices. Clearly, Jesus didn’t fit in with the religious leaders & was weird by their estimation.
On the flip side, it seems to me that Jesus was more accepted & fit in better with the people who were more obviously broken (sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes, etc). Maybe these disreputable people liked Jesus because He was weird. He was different from them, offering them genuine love that they had possibly never experienced.
When Jesus lived on earth, He modeled for us how to be good in a weird way – loving people genuinely. In my thinking, the work we do with Saving Moses and nightcare is wonderfully different & even weird because it’s an overtly tangible expression of genuine love 🙂
When I find something I like, I tend to keep going back for more of the same & my weakness can be that I don’t try new things. But from having lots of different travel experiences, I’m forced to try new things & more often than not, I LOVE it, as long as I don’t self-sabotage by comparing the new thing to what I’ve known or expected. I find this to be true with God as well – there are many times when I want God to something like the past or I had these expectations & then God does something different. And here’s the way cool part of that – God always does WAY BETTER than what I think of expect, but I just need to be open to different. Lets remember that God’s ways & thoughts are higher than our ways & thoughts 🙂
I have the honor of working with LOTS of different people, some of whom are very easy for me & others who are a little tricky. When I think about the tricky people, I’m coming to the conclusion that the things that bug me are often more problems that I have than the other persons issues.
So with this in mind, I find myself pushing into God, praying & asking for help to do & be better. This helps me to be grateful for tricky people 🙂
This school year, my daughter signed up to play her first year of basketball & to say that I was happy would be a massive understatement! Elated, excited, thrilled, joyful, exuberant & more would be more accurate 🙂
As the season has progressed, even though I didn’t want to admit this to myself, her interest & enthusiasm for playing basketball has waned, and this week, I had to have a stern conversation with her about finishing what we start & not quitting when we make a commitment (integrity 101). I hated having this conversation w her because I was very different than she is, in the sense of totally enjoying basketball. I was on the other end of the spectrum, shooting & practicing by myself just for my sheer enjoyment. As I’ve been thinking about this difference, I’ve also noticed that she really enjoys her piano lessons & practice – she will take her own initiative & practice even extra piano. For me, piano practice was a slippery shortcut from purgatory to hell ,)
Having said all of this, I’ve come to the happy conclusion that we are different & that’s totally wonderful! God has made Isabell different than me, in the same way that I am different from my mom & such differences aren’t bad – they are divinely inspired! So, my lesson is that God has lots of ways to express majesty, beauty & splendor, using amazing differences to catch our attention 🙂
Reece & I are taking a few days of vacation & we met some nice people yesterday with whom we had some enjoyable conversations. I find it interesting that when we first meet people, we tend to look for what we have in common & our conversations grow based on those commonalities or stop with the lack of commonalities. This has started me to thinking about how much we “chat” with God based on how different God is from us. I wonder if I don’t sometimes cut short some discussions with God because I don’t understand. Thankfully, God has come to us through Jesus & has done all the work to bridge any gaps of understanding. So my take away is to stay in those conversations & situations with God that can seem unclear & to be faithful in genuine love.