Dealing with Difference

How do you deal with difference? I’m not necessarily talking about a difference of opinions, differing world views or people having different thoughts, ideas, or actions, but more when things are different; when there has been a shift or change in life. This change could be small like when my wife Kristi rearranges the kitchen drawers and I can’t find my BBQ tongs. How would you react? I think I started rummaging through every drawer in the kitchen saying loud enough and with a little frustration and annoyance in my voice to the volume where my wife could hear, “Someone has stolen my BBQ tongs! Why do people keep stealing my stuff?”  In that calm, loving, and kind tone Kristi says, “Have you looked out by the BBQ?” And of course they are there…but that’s not where they are normally, it’s different and I have to deal with the difference.

My neighbor came up to me the other day and asked where my Jeepster was. (I have a ‘69 Jeepster Commando that needs a lot of work and until now it’s been just sitting in my driveway. I start it now and then and drive it around the block, but for the most part it sits in my driveway.) So my neighbor asks when I’m going to get it back because now that it’s gone he can’t find his house or tell others where he lives… “At the house next to the yellow Jeep.” He has to deal with the difference, and though we laughed about it, I think he was kind of serious, and so I apologized. 

Some differences go deeper, like when I walk down the hallway of my house and my daughter’s room is different. It’s now full of wedding stuff for my other daughter’s wedding (she’s getting married in a few days!!), but it’s different. Yes, a little cleaner, but that’s not her room any more. She has her own room with her husband across town, and I have to deal with the change. It’s just like my son’s room, which has also become a wedding storage area, there is a faint fragrance of my son (his cologne mixed with his deodorant and who knows what else, but you know that kind of personal aroma, not bad, just his scent) but he’s not there.  He’s married off, starting a different life with his wife. It’s not the same anymore. And the changes keep coming with this next wedding…I have not fully processed the change, it’s different.

We all face these types of differences; a job loss, a good friend moving away, a sickness that alters life, or a new stage in life.  Some might be going to a new school, new classes, a new job, or a new semester. Others may have a death in the family, disabilities, disasters, a dissolved marriage, a life altering accident, a new baby, marriage, moving…and the list goes on. How do you deal with difference? How should we deal with difference? It’s easy to freak out, get depressed, or let fear zap our joy and move our attention from walk-through- life-differences. For it would be easy to get stuck in them and let these differences move us off God’s path for our life instead of being strengthened by them as James 1:1-4 says. (Yes, take out your Bible and read the verses.)

Let me suggest two notions to think about as we deal with difference. One is to know who you are:

We are fearfully and wonderfully created by God… 

Psalm 139:14  14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

We are deeply loved by God…

Jeremiah 31:3  3 The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.

1 John 4:10  10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

We belong because by our faith in Jesus we are adopted into God’s family…

Ephesians 1:4-5  4 For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love  5 He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will–

Who we are is not what we do, but Whose we are. We are not some product of random chance without purpose or aim or forethought or destiny. We are one of God’s precious creations with purpose and plans (Jeremiah 29:11) and a unique call that is significant. So hold your head up, put your shoulders back and walk through this difference as God guides you.

This leads to the next notion to dwell on, to think about who God is. Now I could go on for days listing Bible verse after verse describing our incredible God and I encourage you to spend time exploring who God is, but here are a few…

Exodus 34:6  6 And He passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,

Numbers 23:19  19 God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?               

Deuteronomy 10:17  17 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty   and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.

Deuteronomy 20:4  4 For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”

Psalm 54:4  4 Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.

Psalm 62:7-8  7 My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.  8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

1 John 4:16  16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

And being that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18), let’s dwell on God and His great love for us. As well, let’s do our best to love others and let this force of love cast out the fear these differences bring. When we bask in this love, fear will subside and we will more clearly see how to deal with the differences that come our way.

Differences will come, or like me you are right in the swirl of one or more, but keep reminding yourself Whose you are and how amazing God is, and He will guide you.

Proverbs 3:5-7  5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  6 in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.  7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.

Dealing with Difference with you,

Mike

 

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