My Life with God

Differences Don’t Have to Get in the Way

photo-1560925562-8f504a92c529“This doesn’t work for everyone.”

Including others is important, but we need to do so for the right reasons. Our intentions affect the dynamics of the process and the result. If we chronically lower our standards and negatively impact others, how much are we truly caring for others? What potential growth and benefits are we excluding with our very efforts to include others?

For instance, I listened to a conversation about a family’s children, who are the same age: “If we separate the kids and let one move ahead at her pace, will we create more of a gap between her and the others?” Yes, that’s a possibility. Another possibility is limiting the child who needs more challenge and room to grow, which has another set of potential consequences. We can’t foresee every possible benefit and fallout of a decision, but we need to consider the broader picture, which includes individuals as well as the group.
We need to be respectful of people who might feel slighted, and we certainly need to listen when there are valid complaints of injustice. We always need to be aware of the values we’re using in making decisions. That includes truth-checks and humility. We must be willing to change. And we must be willing to keep essential standards even when there’s pressure to lower standards just in case someone feels left out. People can feel offended when they are included for the wrong reasons, too. They can have baggage even if they think they’re getting what they want. Just because something works for everyone doesn’t mean it is good for everyone in the long run.

We can include others while keeping the standards high for ourselves. We can engage with people who don’t think or believe like we do or don’t immediately want the same things we do. We can encourage others where they are while continually challenging ourselves to grow and go deeper. We’re not all at the same place at the same time. If we’re even able to accurately assess where we and others are, there will always be people who are a step ahead and just a little behind us. We don’t share the same experiences with everyone, yet we can always find similarities. We can respectfully relate to others and simultaneously encourage them to grow as we grow also.

Just because something doesn’t work for everyone doesn’t mean it’s not the best option. Dig in and step forward. Moving ahead doesn’t mean we leave others behind. We can do life with others even when we have differences. In fact, the differences can make our lives richer. When we’re able to see a wider variety around us, we’re able to keep our own experiences in a larger context. Differences exist, but we don’t have to let them get in the way of growing as individuals and community.

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