When our girls were growing up, I prepared myself for a daily argument about hair style. Pam wanted their hair a certain way, and the girls demonstrably disagreed. They wanted it a different way. This was especially true with our oldest daughter. The battle line was set each morning between two Type-A personalities wired to do things their own way. As a parent, married partner, business manager, political decision maker, or coach, we often determine if something is a matter of right/wrong or difference. “Right/wrong” choice is a matter of ethics while being “different” is a much simpler matter of opinion.
Sameness makes things easier. Simply mix together, very few adjustments have to be made. Familiarity breeds comfort. The problem is no growth is needed. Just keep doing the status quo. Being different in this environment is shunned. “If you want change, move on please. We don’t want you here.” Sameness is not what God wants.
God cries out in scripture for oneness. Oneness is building relationships and community in the midst of our differences. Oneness forces people to grow. Growth starts with change. God puts you in relationships where change has to occur before things can move forward.
Change forces you to make choices. Romans 12:2 quickly describes the choice that we all forced to make in order to grow, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” We conform to the current “pattern of this world”, or we are “transformed by the renewing of your mind”. Oneness needs transformation which challenges and enables us to love others who are different.
Choice causes pain. Philippians 2 speaks to this, 43Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” The choice of oneness vs. sameness is the decision of letting go of self-centeredness and focusing on the interests of others. While this frequently is painful, you will begin to experience the blessing of giving to rather than taking from others.
Pain results from loss. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29). Loss occurs when you are no longer focused selfishly on what’s “best for me” choosing to accept others even their differences. This will stretch you especially if it is a spouse or one of your children who is frustrating you. You have to live with these irritating differences everyday. What if it is a child who has unlimited athletic, musical, or artistic ability and now they are burned out. You may have spent big bucks and many hours to support these kids and now they are hanging it up! What?! Another child, your only son, is totally chilled out and seems to have no motivation. Your spouse and family life are not what you expected. On top of all this, your boss is incredibly demanding. Each one of these experiences is real life and painful. You may feel that you are losing it. Romans 15:7 will spur you on, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Taking yourself off the throne of your life and inviting the Lord into His rightful place is the healthiest, most wholesome decision that you ever will make. He will be with you every step of the way.
Creating an environment of unselfishness and acceptance leads to growth in your marriage, the relationship with your kids, and bothersome relationships. On a personal level, you will grow. Be courageous and start the journey.