“…with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3
Do you often feel like you’re the odd man out? Does being different bother you, or are you okay with it? Recently I was challenged by a friend to reflect on ways I was different from most in our society. The following is part of that list:
- Our kids don’t get cell phones until they are 16 and driving alone. They start with a slide phone that only texts and talks.
- We have a tv that we use for watching DVDs, but no working channels.
- I cut the boys’ hair, including Dave’s.
- We rarely go to the doctor–I treat my family at home with homeopathy.
- The kids all bought their first cars with their own cash–no debt.
- All 4 kids are/were home schooled K-12.
- Our microwave is in the basement–used primarily for heating our “rice socks” and occasionally leftovers.
- We have 3 freezers plus the 2 connected to the 2 fridges–total of 5 freezer spaces. (see #14)
- We make a majority of our food from scratch.
- We buy most of our clothes from Wal-mart, Goodwill, and Savers (You really need to try Savers! We get an additional 30% military discount, too.)
- None of us watch sports, so are pretty out of it when it comes to that.
- The gals in our family try to dress modestly (though I am sure we don’t measure up to everyone’s standards).
- Until recently, our kids have had chores lists for as long as they could remember.
- We live on 8 acres and raise chickens, turkeys, pigs, cows, bees, an orchard, and a garden.
- We are Reformed Christians, and strive to joyfully live our lives according to how God teaches us in the Bible.
(I had to narrow it down to just 15. 🙂 )
So what do I think about being different?
How do I relate to people who don’t practice or care about these things, or are even opposed to them? Do I expect people to be just like me? (No!) I feel bad when someone knows that I think real food is important, and then they think they have to explain to me why they are eating something not so wholesome. Having standards or goals for yourself doesn’t mean you expect others to be just like you.
I need to remember that the list above has been a process; there were times when I was on the opposite end, such as with health and food. It is easy for me to forget that, and I have to be careful not to be prideful or judgmental in my thoughts towards others who aren’t on the same page.
A critical spirit is my natural bent and I have to fight it. (It really comes down to pride, doesn’t it?) We like to think our own opinions are right and the best. But “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)
It’s also easy for me to gravitate towards those who are just like me—it validates my choices, right?
…But what does that do for us if we only surround ourselves with those who are just like us?
…Do you ever listen to radio stations or peruse blogs that have the opposite viewpoints as you, just to be in touch with what others are thinking, and to perhaps be challenged in your own positions?
…Do you try to make friends with people who aren’t just like you?
In the church that I attend, there are lots of people who are different than me—in school choices, health philosophy, dress, etc. I struggled a lot at first, but I have found that attending this church has helped me be more gracious and accepting of all kinds of people. God’s love for us and His work in our lives is the unifying factor.
Here’s a specific example: our kids no longer get vaccines. It’s a topic I have researched and feel passionately about. But we also have doctors, nurses, pharmacists and others in our church who feel very differently about this volatile topic. We have even been in discussions about it on FB (not something I recommend nor do anymore). We were all very civil, and made a point to connect with each other the next week in church to make sure we were still friends. But after that interaction, I found myself thinking about and focusing on our differences.
This was very troublesome to me and I was disturbed by my train of thought. Then we went to a presentation on Ronald Reagan by a lady who worked closely with him. I remember her saying that Ronald Reagan always sought to find what he had in common with others, and he got along with the likes of Gorbachev and Tip O’Neill—people who were his political opponents!
That really made me think. How could I do less, being a Christian, in relating to those in my own church, let alone everyone else?
I had to confess this sin of judging and pride and instead focus on the many things we have in common, which were plenty more than the things we had in difference. Plus, the things we had in common were of much greater importance than our differences. How boring life would be if we were all the same. But how difficult if we had nothing in common.
This is not to say that we can never disagree with someone or have a stimulating conversation about our differences. But when we do so, let’s examine our heart and our motives…
…Do you ever consider that you could be wrong?
…Do you ever concede a good point from the other side?
…When others have different opinions, do you feel threatened, or can you listen and show love while disagreeing?
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”