Our Differences Unite Us

Our world is full of differences. There are so many hobbies, interests, religions, ideas, perceptions, passions..you name it. Yet in the midst of all of these differences we are still looking at each other for confirmation that we are going in the right direction. We do this because we need people. We look at our surroundings to measure ourself. It isn’t all bad as it sounds. It’s healthy to evaluate yourself and adjust as needed. Several places in the Bible even direct us to do just that (1 Corinthians 11:31, Galatians 6:4) It only becomes unhealthy when you abandon yourself (your inner values and spiritual guidance) in order to achieve a higher level of acceptance. We all want to fit in but the root of that is just that we want to be accepted.

We have all become experts on finding what is different, but an effective analysis also requires an understanding of what is the same. We will always need connection, but how can we find similarities in a world so different? Our differences and our needs are the keys to that. The many differences we all have are certainly what make us unique, but those differences are also the very thing that make us the same. We are all different and that unites us. Our needs work the same way. Our needs are all different and they change all the time, but the thing that never changes is the fact that we all have needs.

What would happen in our hearts if we started seeing what was the same in everyone instead of what is different? Personally, when I look at what is different in others, I am not always looking at the things that are good in your differences. No, if I’m being honest, my first reaction views your differences from a place of scarcity. This means I am looking at how you are different from me in a sense of “what do you have that I do not?” A happier life comes from understanding that I have what I need and you have what you need. This helps me appreciate your differences rather than want for them.

Another really beautiful thing comes to mind from all of this. If we think about Jesus’ act on the cross, we are reminded that it was done because we are loved. You are loved. I am loved. We are worth love. No matter how different we all are, as you look around searching for unity today or moving forward, remember that we are all different, we all have needs, and we are all worth love.

The Foundation of Self-Love

Throughout the whole month of December you have seen me post with “Me-Cember” in the title. The purpose of every post this month was to restore faith, hope, and love back in yourself. Jan-you-ary posts will begin on 1/1/18 focusing on restoring your faith, hope, and love in others. Before we move on to the new month and new year, I want to share how self-love even begins.

A big part of my story is that I overcame addiction. As I have gotten more and more years away from my recovery, I do not focus on my story being “addiction” anymore. My story is that I didn’t feel like I was loved or accepted as who I was inside and now I do. I felt I had to hide parts of who I was and became lost over time. I battled anxiety even through middle school and I felt misunderstood and sometimes even laughed at for it. In high school I was actually a sweet, sensitive (but still cool) dude, but it didn’t seem like my peers at that time were on board with sensitivity. I didn’t want to have sex with every girl, or watch fights, or yell expletives on the bus the whole ride, but I did because I thought that’s what I had to do. I was after acceptance from others but not really from myself. The drugs and drinking were simply tools I used to numb myself down. I remember thinking that if I did or said something that wasn’t perfect I had a backup plan: “well, I was high.” My entire idea of myself was based on how others viewed me and my foundation was not my own. I’d be willing to guess a huge number of “addicts” have the same root cause. I had no foundation of self-love, and therefore no reason to take care of myself. I had no incentive to accept I would have been better off lonely for a while. When you get here, you have to demolish what was built and start completely over. So that’s what I did.

What does a foundation of self-love look like? Why is it necessary? The foundation is where you begin. When it comes to self-love, I am not talking about conceit. I am talking about understanding that you have value, that you care for yourself, that you are happy to be alive because you are interested in the world. Unless you believe you have worth and that you have a place in the world as who you are and have something to seek, you will immediately start building wrong because your foundation is weak.

The foundation of self-love starts with believing you are valuable. Ephesians 2:4-5 says:

“But God was so rich in mercy and loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when Christ was raised.”

So this gives us the belief that no matter what we have done wrong, no matter what others do not like about us, we are loved. This is our foundation. It has to be. No other foundation is fit for building on other than the thought that you are valued and you are loved, just as you are.

“What if I’m not a Christian?” Whether you believe in the characters (the people of a story) of “God” and “Jesus” becomes irrelevant in this question, at least for a moment. Can you believe in the character (meaning the inner morale) of someone sacrificing something for another person? We see this all around us. People give up their shoes for the homeless man. People give up their seat on the bus for the disabled person. People give their money to the needy when they may need it themselves. This happens because people see the value in another person. It wouldn’t happen if we were not first loved. Jesus confirms this in Matthew 10:8 when He says “freely you have received, so now freely you give.” Those characters (people of a story) above are the originators of character (the inner morale). You wouldn’t see people give to others if they had not been given to themselves first. Whether you believe in the characters of the story or not, the belief that you are loved still has to be in place.

Are you willing to be lonely to restart your life? It is an investment. You won’t invest in yourself if you don’t believe you can produce a desirable outcome. You are worth love. I believe that because God, the Father, believes that. What are you going to do with it?