Seeing Our Differences Differently

“We need to look past the outward and into the inward to see the person-the living human soul-standing in front of us.”~Mom

When we see someone who is different from us, what is our first thought? 

When we see someone in the grocery store with messy hair and ratty clothes, do we immediately think that they are lazy? Or do we think about someone who may have had a really tough morning, someone whose family member could have just died, someone who is so stressed out that getting dressed at all was the most they could do that day. . .

When we see someone who is overweight, do we silently judge them in our hearts as someone who does not have any self-control, someone who eats all day, someone who doesn’t care about their appearance at all? Could it be that they have a medical disorder that causes weight gain?  Could it be that they have no control over it?

When we hear someone with a speech impediment, do we stereotype them as slow, unintelligent, or so socially awkward that they can not even communicate? Or do we see someone who might have a neurological disorder like stuttering, someone who has suffered severe brain trauma? Do we listen to what they are saying, instead of analyzing how they are saying it?

When we meet someone suffering from a mental disability, are we embarrassed and afraid to talk to them? Or do we see past the outward into the heart, realizing that they are still people with emotions, with dreams, with feelings. 

When we see someone who just looks different than we do, acts differently than we do, walks differently than we do, or anything else you can possibly think of. . . do our hearts respond with compassion and acceptance, or do they respond with misguided perceptions about that person? Do we stare, or do we smile and let them know that they are beautiful and loved just the way they are?

Writing those words convicts my heart so deeply, because I find myself making faulty judgments about others all the time. I am talking to myself as I write this post. Sadly, everything in our world centers around outward appearance, but it doesn’t have to be that way, friends. I have heard that, on average, most people form an opinion of someone within the first minute of talking to them. But what is often our criteria for this? Outward, outward, outward. Isn’t this sad? We judge on how they present themselves, how they speak, how they walk, and how they look.

But who we are is never completely manifested on the outside. Inside is what truly matters.

My mom reminded me of something profound this afternoon. We do not set the standard for what is “normal” and what is different. God has lovingly fashioned every human being in His own image. There is no set standard for what people should be. People only need to be themselves, and that should always, always, always be enough.

On a personal note, I have been shocked by the kind words of others who have told me that they think my stutter is beautiful and endearing. People have told me that they feel comfortable around me because they feel like they can just be their imperfect selves. I did not mention that to exalt myself in any way, because honestly, I never imagined that someone could possibly see my stutter as endearing. I mentioned this because those words have radically changed my own view of being different. To the people who have told me these things, thank you. Thank you for showing me how to see differences differently. Thank you for setting the example for how I need to view the differences of others…as beautiful, precious parts of who they are.

Think about a box of crayons. Every crayon has its own signature color that makes it stand out in the box. It’s unmistakable from the others. Imagine receiving a box of crayons as a little kid, only to find that every crayon was the same color? What was it about a brand new box of crayons that excited you? It was probably that you could create absolutely anything you wanted with all of those different colors, right? You could let your imagination run wild. But even though every crayon was different, we still liked them all equally, right? That’s exactly how life is. We all have “a signature color.” Everyone is different, and because of those differences, we put our unique stamp on the world. We could not possibly be confused with someone else, because our differences make us unforgettable. . .in a wonderful way.
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What if we started celebrating differences as what makes everyone beautifully unique? What if we started celebrating our diversity and treasuring every human being for who they are, not for what we expect them to be? 

Will you join me in seeing differences differently than we ever have before?

Much love, Makenzie

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