It Doesn't Always Mean the Same Thing
The older I get, the more amazed I am at the complexity and unique make up of people. I often look around on a Sunday, and I am blown away by the wonder of the people who are there.
For many I know their stories and the very real challenges they have faced, or are facing. I watch as they encourage others, I watch as they listen to someone else’s struggles, and although they may seem small in comparison to their own, they still listen attentively and with compassion and empathy.
For many I know their gifts and talents, and what a tremendous treasure they are. I see brilliant minds, gifted artists, compelling orators, creative writers, successful leaders and entrepreneurs spending time with each other, not leaning into the way their gift makes for them, but rather, engaging with the person in front of them, far more interested in their life, their achievements, their successes.
When Jesus said He’d build His church, He meant something significant, and as I look at the people I’ve met in the church over the years, and particularly those I see in Woodland Church today, I see that Jesus really meant what He said!
Due to all the diversity of gifting, perspectives, challenges, and stories, people can be endlessly unique. There is no such thing as a cookie cutter stay-at-home Mom, any more than there is a cookie cutter banker. People are vastly different in so many ways.
One of the challenges that can bring for us, is we aren’t always sure how to interact with each other.
Sometimes out of an effort to understand or connect with people, we simplify them to a person we know who is like them, or assume they are like us.
It’s good to identify with others, but I would suggest, it is not good to fill in blanks for the unknowns in people around you with someone else’s personality.
Here’s why this matters.
A little insight into my personality, I like to chew on ideas for a long period of time. It could be something ten years away, or something later that day. If I am in one of those moods, where I am really thinking, I have a really hard time hearing or seeing what’s going on around me.
So, at times, people ask me questions, and I don’t hear them so I don’t answer. Or, I hear them, but because I am so distracted, I think I answer out loud, but it was just a thought, and I never formed any words.
No question this is off-putting, and can be hurtful, but I certainly don’t mean for it to be. The trouble comes, when someone else notices I didn’t say anything, and they assume it is because I am upset with them, or blowing them off.
I have learned, when we fill in unknown space of the reason behind someone’s actions like that, it is often because that’s what it would mean if it were us responding in that way.
Another example. For me to use seemingly harsh or direct language in an email or text message, that would mean I was feeling pressured, upset, or maybe even angry. For other people, a seemingly harsh or direct message or email means absolutely nothing at all. It just means they sent an email or message, and that is how they think and communicate. It would be unfair for me to place assumptions on them like that.
Here is the short take away. People are so beautifully and wonderfully unique. When you see or hear someone acting in a way that seems like maybe they are upset, like maybe they are holding something in, because that’s what you look like when you’re upset… don’t assume you know the answer, have a conversation. Learn about them, ask them questions, and then believe them!
Just because it looks the same, doesn’t always guarantee it means the same thing!
Love you friends!