I called my best friend a few nights ago to discuss a few different things. New Year’s, new boys, new dreams, new ideas. I scurried into my bathroom, closed the door, and sat on the floor just like Mama taught me to. It’s my safe place. Always.
I asked if I could run a few ideas by him. I told him I’d been overwhelmed by recent inspiration, and that I couldn’t decide what to start writing about first. He listened quietly, giving encouraging responses as I glazed over Jesus and the importance of empathy, Instagram culture and our incessant need to control others’ perceptions of our lives at the expense of living, and a couple of other pieces of my life, taking up space in my mind, making it impossible to concentrate on anything or anyone.
I think he just recently started reading my blog. I didn’t ever really expect him to, considering we don’t necessarily believe in all of the same things, and I write a whole lot about what I believe in. He listens to me talk about God like a real person, like someone I know, and he still takes me seriously. He still loves me and values me and thinks I’m brilliant. I listen to him talk about science like there’s no room for God, and I still take him seriously. I still love him and value him and think he’s brilliant. We are every bit as different as we are similar, and that is one of the most beautiful elements of our relationship.
He told me he enjoyed my last blog, and I told him that I wasn’t really pleased with it. The idea had been marinating in my mind for so long, though, and I had spent so much time putting it into words that I just had to get it out.
He said, “Like a word turd?”
That’s why he’s my best friend. Here’s another word turd for you. A certain phrase has been tattooed on my brain for a couple of days. It haunts me while I try to clean, it distracts me while I try to drive, and it excites me when I’m near my laptop.
Difference and oneness. Difference and oneness. Difference and oneness.
I look up at the sky and say, “Great. Thanks for that. Please show me more.” And my God laughs because he’s shown me and all of creation since our eyes met the world. In the way that he carefully painted the shades of our skin, and crafted the shapes of our noses. In the way that the sky reflects a rainbow of every beautiful color that we see. In the way that music makes my heart dance and dancing makes my sister’s heart sing. In the way that we can have our breath taken away by snowy mountains or white beaches. In the way that people of all tongues will praise his holy name. There can be difference and oneness. It’s not just okay. That’s how it’s supposed to be!
These, friends, are some of the most tragic lies we will ever believe:
Acceptance requires conformity.
What is foreign to us is sinful.
There is black and there is white and there is nothing else.
But God’s glorious rainbow defies cultural norms and expectations. It listens and learns and loves just the same. It is anything but black and white. It is vast and varying, with lands yet to be discovered.
If we are made in the image of God, who thought and felt and dreamed everything we’ve ever thought and felt and dreamed first, we have much to discover about ourselves and about him. Therefore we cannot continue to draw lines in the sand and stand on the side that looks whitest to us. Polarization is an adventurous spirit’s death! We cannot only accept those who fall on our side of the line between Republican and Democrat, Baptist and Methodist, Straight and Gay, Content and Curious, Rich and Poor, Wrong and Right.
Made in the image of God, we are more than that. We are to see beauty in the differences between what we know and what we do not yet understand, and when we do, we will be more like him. In our difference, there does not have to be polarization.
There can be oneness.