"Why else were individuals created, but that God, loving all infinitely, should love each differently? And this difference, so far from impairing, floods with meaning the love of all blessed creatures for one another, the communion of the saints. If all experienced God in the same way and returned Him an identical worship, the song of the Church triumphant would have no symphony, it would be like an orchestra in which all the instruments played the same note. " C.S. Lewis
"You coming out?" she asked me.
"No, I'm staying here. This is absolutely hideous."
"It couldn't be that bad," she giggled from the other side of the curtain.
"It is," I said.
"Way too clingy, this Chinese one-size-fits all doesn't quite include me," I snort.
"Unless it's a muumuu," I think to myself. "One size definitely doesn't fit all."
My arms looked like sausages that were ready to burst out their skins, and my midriff peeked out every so slightly.
"My jeans can't come up any higher, and I can't tug this shirt down further. I'll be out in a second," I told her. I quickly changed, and exited the makeshift dressing stall.
Sameness used to mean safeness. If I wore the right clothes, and conformed to the image of what people expected me to be then I was safe. No one would know that I was asking God questions if I played the part of what was expected of me. In life and faith, it is tempting to scared of what I don't understand. However, God didn't make people cookie cutters that are exact replicas of one another. He made people as diverse as one can imagine.
"What is her problem?" I would ask, and look down my nose in judgment on someone who wasn't in the same place in their faith walk, their journey as I was. If that person hadn't made the 'right' expressions of faith, and didn't look right, why did I feel as if I had the right to condemn? If we are made to be individuals (which I believe we are), does it not make sense that we are at different stages of learning, and that if my Father is okay with that, I should be, too?
Faith isn't one-size-fits-all everyone must look the same. There is great diversity in His body. We won't all look the same and talk the same. Far from being a utopia, pretending like this cookie-cutter-one-size-fits-all faith is the same for everybody and if you just knew your Bible better or could obey better you'd be just like me doesn't foster or create community of believers. It causes fear of one ever really being known, an if-you-just-knew-me you wouldn't be able to accept me attitude.
I choose to give grace and let others be different. I choose to let others take their own individual faith journey. In this, I give myself grace to be on my own journey learning in the process. Someday I'll arrive at my destination, and I'm sure I'll find then that God welcomes those who don't fit the mold. In fact, I think His heart rather delights in our diversity.
Do you give others grace as they are on their own journey? In what ways could you deal more gently with someone who is struggling? What ways do you need to reach out to someone else this week?