I felt my throat start to tighten, and the sudden sense of slight panic. I’m having a casual discussion with another mom. A friend. And she is doing something so very different from me. And it’s something I feel passionate about.
I feel the sudden need, right then and there, to make a judgement call. One of us must be right, and one of us wrong.
If she’s right and I’m wrong, then I need to change and be like her.
But if I’m the one that’s right? I can’t help but having just a small smug of satisfaction that I’ve got this thing called life figured out just a little bit better.
Differences would often threaten me precisely because I felt that need to categorize everything into a right and wrong category.
There are moral absolutes. And those things are definitely right or wrong. But oh the variety of ways to live the rest of life. So many ways to parent. So many ways to keep a home. So many foods to love and not love. So many personalities. So many ways to live.
There are as many ways as there are people. Because we are individuals with distinct personalities, gifts, strengths, and weaknesses.
Some people’s gut reaction when they face someone who does something differently from them is to immediately be skeptical, or even offended.“What?! You don’t like cats?” And then they immediately set out to convince the other person of how wonderful cats are. Or dogs, or coffee, or chocolate, or…
But when we go beyond preferences, and there are significant differences in how we live life, we often feel pressured to make a judgement call.
I’ve come to really love differences. I don’t even feel the need anymore to have to try what everyone else is doing. (Though sometimes I definitely do!) I have come to love seeing the variety of ways people live.
It makes the world such a unique place. And it broadens my little world to see others doing things differently.
We need to retrain our gut reaction.
Instead of responding in such a way (though unintentional) that you make the person feel like they have done something wrong for liking something you don’t like, appreciate the fact that they are different from you.
Instead of making an immediate judgement call of right or wrong on something that really is not a moral absolute, celebrate the fact that God has given us all different path to live.
Instead of responding in shock, respond with curiosity and genuine interest.
Sometimes we need the courage to be ourselves. And other times we need the graciousness to let others be different from us. And that just might take even more courage.
Do you find yourself reacting positively or skeptically to people’s differences?