Honouring Our Differences

IMG_1418 Wendy's peony 5ch The other evening my neighbour invited me over because the light was right. I love it! How many people would do that? She gets me! This time of year the sun sets further to the north and she was enthralled by the light that made the flowers on her dining room table glow. She knew I would enjoy it too, so she phoned me to come over -and bring my camera.   IMG_1403 irises ch Earlier in the week another friend, who I love dearly, confided that she didn’t understand why some people had an emotional reaction to things like rainbows and sunsets. They were pretty and all, but didn’t give her any particular thrill; their formation is easily explained. She’s good at a lot of painstaking, repetitive, detailed tasks that would have me running for the nearest exit before I collected my pay cheque, gladly receiving the label of irresponsible scatter-brain rather than do one more inventory.

Yesterday I noticed that another friend I admire was excited about getting a handle on organizing her studies in Greek and Hebrew so she could spend her summer reviewing before launching into her Ph.D. work. Today yet another friend talked about how much satisfaction she is getting from building fences and raking 7.5 kilometers of new trails on their ranch. The neighbour who invited me to see the way the sun struck her flowers is a fabric artist. She is fascinated by colour and has a unique hobby; she is a dyer of fabric.

IMG_1437 Wendy's irisch   My husband and I had another, um, opportunity to share grace with each other this week. I needed the password for a device we supposedly share, but I seldom use. I had to find him and ask because I couldn’t remember it. This is why I can’t remember it: he throws strings of numbers in his frequently changing passwords. I am a numerical dyslexic. Quantity I comprehend. There is simply no file in my brain for numbers as identifiers. Blue house with a pink plastic flamingo in the yard by the dog groomers, I can remember. 12302- 37th Ave. (I made that up -sorry if it’s your address) falls right through the huge colander holes in my number memory file. Phone numbers? Hopeless. And don’t get me started on model numbers. All you will get is a glare if you ask me if I bought the A8932 or the A9934 version.

“The green one.”

How am I possibly supposed to remember that password?” I whined at my husband. The man has no problem. He sees numbers as having as much personal distinctiveness and identity as a blue house with a pink flamingo. He just remembers them (numbers, that is – a blue house with a pink flamingo might as well be on Mars.)

I think I finally found a way to explain my frustration with his choice of passwords. I grabbed a dictionary with a dusty/reddish/rust coloured cover and asked him to remember that shade and go buy a piece of fabric to match. He looked at me dumbfounded. “Can people do that?”

IMG_1420 Wendy's peony 2ch   My neighbour could. Most of the time I can too. He’s not a visual learner. He’s a verbal processor and I’ve learned to pretty much ignore everything he says until he comes to some sort of conclusion.

Here’s the thing; we don’t all think or feel or learn or enjoy life the same way. Consideration -one aspect of love- is being aware that not everyone is like me. Loving myself as God loves me means giving myself permission (grace) to be different without guilt or comparison. I can’t remember numbers, and that’s okay. My husband does not have a strong visual memory. He will walk right by a pink flamingo for 23 years and never notice it, and that’s okay -annoying, but okay.

I love this observation by Kris Vallatton: Arrogance is not thinking too highly of yourself. Arrogance is not thinking highly enough of others.

We tend to value our own currency most highly; that is, if we are task-oriented we will admire people who work hard. We will compliment projects that exemplify hard work. My dear hard-working German mother often complimented needlework or fine meals with an acknowledgment of how much work went into it. Another person might notice how much thought went into it, or how much artistry was involved. I grew up being rather deficient in the hard-work and joy of labour department. It took me years to realize she truly enjoyed baking bread before her morning shift as a nurse and then cleaning the kitchen until midnight. Work gave her as great a sense of satisfaction as the wretched sense of dissatisfaction being chained to  long hours of physical labour gave me. It has taken me even longer to quit feeling guilty about not being like her.

In the big C Church we tend to do the same thing, and we end up discounting or dishonouring those with different ways of seeing, hearing, feeling, learning and doing. Over here we have the go go go-type and here the contemplative-type, and here the emotional, demonstrative-type –  many of them feeling guilty for not being more like the others, and some of them wondering what the heck is wrong with everybody else.

IMG_1435 Wendy's irises 2 ch   I am beginning to realize that unity is the result of the love and grace we extend to others by blessing their differences. Grace is the permission God gives us to fully become who we are meant to be in Christ. At the heart of unity is love, which honours the beauty of the image of God in each one of us, however that manifests.

Then the light shines -as through the colours of  flowers that an artistic person noticed, sitting on a table a practical person moved, and photographed with a camera an industrious person designed, and an entrepreneur sold and a meticulous person inventoried…

10 thoughts on “Honouring Our Differences

  1. Oh my gosh!!!! First of all let me say that these photos are amazing and simply gorgeous! Secondly this post is absolutely wonderfully stated. As I read it, I realized that like the flowers in a garden we are all different and yet beautiful in our own unique way. We have different needs for survival, different times to come into flowering, different colors and shapes, and differing live spans, and yet we grow and thrive in the same earth. You did a great job with this one, Charis! Hugs and blessings, Natalie 🙂

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  2. Gorgeous! Hahaha 🙂 Insightful truth. All my reactions bundled into this one reading, Charis. Thank you…from one whose middle name is ‘detail’ until ‘creativity’ kicks in 🙂

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    1. Here’s the thing about grace: it gives us permission to revel in being a detail person sans guilt. If creativity never kicks in you will still be loved just as much. (And if it weren’t for detail people we non-linear thinkers would still be painting pictures in caves.)

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