But many of the older priests, Levites, and family leaders, who had seen the first temple, wept loudly when they saw the foundation of this house, but many others shouted joyfully. The people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shouting from that of the weeping, because the people were shouting so loudly. And the sound was heard far away. (Ezra 3:12-13)
Same situation, different response.
Isn’t that how it often is? We assess someone’s response to a milestone event, challenging situation, or chronic season of life with a baseline of what we expect or what is generally expected. But we’re different. We bring differences into each situation as we face it. Different backgrounds, different relationships, different feelings, different concerns, different beliefs, different assumptions. What we’ve lived through matters, and sometimes it makes us more sensitive, while other times it makes us more calloused. Or we could say it sometimes makes us strong and sometimes vulnerable. We pit responses against each other, as if one is positive and the other is negative.
That’s not always the case.
We can’t completely understand everything someone brings into a situation and response. We can’t even possibly know all that goes into our own response. But we can still be sensitive to and patient with ourselves and others. We don’t have to prove someone else is wrong in order for us to be right. We can live life alongside others despite our differences. In fact, our lives can become richer as we listen to others’ experiences and widen our perspective to realize life isn’t as linear as we’d like to force it to be.
Wind around a little. Start a conversation with someone different from you. After all, the process of getting to know someone else might just clarify some things about yourself, perhaps in a way you never expected.