Sometimes I’m the person who notices the little issues. Recently I have been watching as about half of the nozzles in our shower head have become clogged by mineral deposits. At our last house, I could easily run my fingers over the nozzles and unclog them. With our current shower head, there are small rubber “sleeves” that prevent me from reaching the clogs with my fingers. For some time I have been trying to determine a tool that will help me to reach the clogs without damaging the nozzles. After a lot of thought and searching, the tool that I settled on are disposable microdabbers that I use for paint on very small touch-up jobs on my cars. This is a small plastic tool that has worked well for my shower head, even though they are not designed for this use. I mentioned to my wife that all of the nozzles in our shower now work, and her response was: “I haven’t noticed that they weren’t working”.
I love how God has made each of us so fantastically different from each other! I have never known two people who are exactly alike. Even the twins and triplets that I have known have been different from each other. Each of us have our own set of skills, gifts, and passions. We also have our own experiences and stories. These experiences have a tremendous effect on who we are as a person. This also colors how we see issues and see the world.
It saddens me how often we don’t take the time and energy to learn about other people. This is where I get concerned about the labels that we like to place on people. My theory is that instead of labels more fully describing who a person is, they have a tendency to dehumanize people. Am I liberal or conservative? Progressive or orthodox? Pro-gun, or anti-gun? Pro-life or pro-choice? For open borders, or for closed borders? Republican, Democrat or Independent? This is just a sampling, but there is room for all of your favorite labels! I have watched over and over as labels are placed on people (sometimes on me!), then are followed with assumptions that correspond with the labels. Quite often the assumptions are wrong, and sometimes they are just down-right mean!
One of the worst places where I have seen this is on Facebook. Occasionally I share controversial articles on my Facebook page that I have found to be informative, interesting, or a point of view that I haven’t considered before. I have friends from different contact points from my life who will make comments. This part is good. The bad part is that I have also found that some of my friends are Facebook bullies. They condemn, ridicule, and abuse people who don’t agree with their point of view. I have witnessed this being done without any effort of finding out who the other people are. I have the advantage of knowing each of my friends. There have been times that I have seen people do this when they don’t know that the other person is an expert in the field (these are some of the most interesting interactions!). Sometimes the aggression is aimed at me for having had the gall to post the article or have a differing opinion. Since we are all made fantastically different from each other, doesn’t it make sense that we will have different points of view? Can’t this be OK? Can we take the time to learn about each other, and be respectful because we are dealing with another human being? We might find that we learn something new if we take the time to listen.
I’m appreciative that God didn’t make us all alike. I like who I am, but the world doesn’t need more than one of me. You are pretty special, too, though two would probably be one too many. Can we see—and appreciate–the humanity in each other? Is it possible for our hearts to connect even when our minds can’t agree? As a group, we are stronger when we are diverse. When we have teachers, healers, mechanics, musicians, bakers, artists, plumbers, electricians, scientists, politicians, pastors, engineers, activists…and that guy who cleans out the nozzles in the shower heads! As different as we all are, is it really necessary for all of us to think alike?
As the body of Christ, it seems to me that we are best off to put our energy into living Matthew 22:37-40: “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Jesus didn’t say anything about only loving the neighbor that thinks like us.
Your brother on the journey, Mark
An additional thought: I’m on vacation for two weeks starting on Friday. This means that for the next two weeks there won’t be a new “Mark’s Musings”. Feel free to re-read this article for each of the weeks if you find yourself so inclined (if you are thinking in a different direction, that is OK too!).