Thursday, May 7, 2009

What's The Difference?

Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

Today’s challenge is pretty simple in concept, but even for me, more difficult to successfully achieve. It may take more than a few tries to get it down, and we may not even get it right today.

In the past, I’ve blogged about including others, being kind and judging people on their intentions rather than on their actions alone. Today, I’m going to sort of combine these three.

As you go throughout your day, I’d like you to take a look around. Really take inventory of the kinds of people you find yourself with on a day to day basis. When I do this, I see all sorts of people. I see people of different religions, different nationalities, different sizes and… well… a lot of different differences. In other words, I see a lot of people who are not just like me.

I need to make a confession here.

It wasn’t many years ago that I was an extremely judgmental person. If I saw someone who was overweight or slow or anything else I then considered to be less than perfect, I mocked them. I didn’t do it to their face, but I sure did it behind their back or in my mind. I wasn’t a very nice person.

How I got from being that mean-spirited jerk to who I’m trying to be today (I’m not perfect – but I’m still trying to improve), is a long story. If you really want to know, hang on for another year or two and you can read the book.

Since then, I’ve become rather close to some of the people I would earlier have mocked. And you know what I’ve learned? Once I let my guard down and stopped seeing them as failures according to Madison Avenue standards, I found them to be more like me than I would have ever wanted to allow before.

People are people. God’s children are God’s children.

It doesn’t matter if a person is Democrat, Republican or somewhere in between. It doesn’t matter if they are straight, gay, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, short, tall, fat or lean or any one of a dozen other labels we can place on them.

People are people.

God’s children are God’s children.

Now I can look back and ask myself, “What right did you have to judge these people?”

And the answer I would now give:

“Absolutely none.”

What about you?

Is there something different about you that makes others uncomfortable or uneasy?

How about someone in your family? Is there something about them that makes other people mock and ridicule?

It’s easy to say we don’t care how others treat us, but what about your family? What if your mother or your sister or your father or brother had a quirk that made mocking easy?

See, suddenly its not about you – it’s about someone you love. And watching someone close to you have to endure the meanness of others, well, that’s just crossing the line, isn’t it?

So, bearing that in mind, here’s today’s challenge:

Get to know someone who has a difference you find difficult to accept.

You don’t have to talk about your differences (in fact, sometimes, that’s not the best thing to do when you’re trying to build a bridge). You can start by having a very short, casual conversation and see where it goes from there. You’re not being asked to embrace everything about them, but try your very hardest to accept them as a person – as a fellow son or daughter of God.

I’m guessing, from my own experience here, that if you will try this challenge, regardless of how the other person responds, you will come away from the experience a better person. You will want to try harder to be more open to more people.

You will feel more confident about yourself.

And, if you continue trying to reach out to others, you will also begin to feel your heart softening – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Thank you for taking the time to read and accept today’s challenge. I appreciate you, for your strengths, for your weaknesses; for your similarities and for your differences.

Please feel free to pass this on.

And, remember, Service is the Action Form of Love


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