If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away. –Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Whenever I go out with a crowd, I am usually the slowest one in the bunch. I could say it is because I am shorter or heavier than most of my friends, but that is not the truth of it. It’s because, like Wordsworth, I often wander lonely and aimlessly like a cloud. I am too busy enjoying the world around me to keep up with busy steps and schedules. This truth about me was especially annoying to my siblings as we toured Europe; I was forever holding them back from seeing more because I didn’t walk fast enough. They were anxious to skim across the surface, but I wanted to “live deep and suck out all the marrow” of it like Thoreau.
What I have learned over time is that we are all different, and not all types of people get along well together. My type of person drives the fast-stepping-tightly-scheduled person crazy. Nevertheless, we both have valuable approaches to life; we are both a reflection of God’s uniquely vast character (Genesis 1:27).
Recently, I went downtown and relaxed into a sturdy cedar rocker with a cool glass of freshly made lemonade. As I rocked, I watched a diverse group of people pass by me.
There was a young quinceanera princess in a long pink ruffled gown surrounded by gold party maidens and young tuxedoed princes. I admired as two of the princes held the princess’s long train as she walked. These young men were likely brothers or cousins, but they were showing her honor. The entire party filled the city center with happiness and laughter as drones hovered taking pictures.
Near me sat a beautiful African goddess. She wore a bright yellow two-piece jumpsuit that draped and swayed in the wind like the cape of a superhero. Her hair bounced in short black curls and the sun glistened off her Hollywood sunglasses. She smiled with warm affection and waved people in as they passed. She stood for strength, femininity, confidence, and pride. People were drawn to her.
From the corner behind me darted a tiny Asian woman. She was carrying a bag of takeout food from the Thai restaurant two doors down, and she was hurriedly talking on her cell phone. Her voice was calm and low, but it commanded attention. Her steps were quick and intentional. She had all the control and responsibility of a mother in the body of a worn and tired little girl. She smelled of ginger and jasmine and freshly fried rice.
Each of these women, though vastly different, reflected a piece of the beauty of God to me. Few, if any, of them knew that though. Christ was shining through their beauty and seeing purpose in our messy humanness.
If you read Ezer-Kenegdo Part 1, you already know part of my story and part of the power of this word describing women. If you have not read it, you may want to pause here and do so. In this part of the story, I want to talk about the loving heart of the woman we are meant to be.
As I watched the many men and women pass me, I wondered how many of them struggle with feeling less lovable than the people around them.
How many of them felt seen and heard?
How many of them felt valued?
How many of them felt needed?
These are all things that Christ came to show us, and they are things God designed us to long for. God designed us to want Him.
I may not get along with every type of person in the world, but I am supposed to love them. In so doing, I help point people back to the God they truly long for (Galatians 6:1). The kind of love I am talking about is kindness. We Christians are called to show kindness to those who are not living at God’s best in order to inspire them towards pursuit of it (Galatians 5:13-26).
Our loving kindness is Christ’s attitude adjustment shining through. It doesn’t always come easy. In fact, there are some people I would rather punch in the face than show love to. Nevertheless, I am learning that the people who rub like sandpaper across the surface of my life are opportunities for me to grow. People in the south have a saying for this; they say “bless their heart” for such as these with all the veiled venom of a rattler. I don’t have that skill…but I sometimes really wish I did.
In what ways do people challenge you?
How can you overcome those challenges to still show them grace and kindness?