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Accepting the Beauty in our Differences

Posted Jul 06 2011 10:41pm
If we can love ourselves in spite of our faults and foibles, and if we can accept our own weaknesses and wrongdoings, then why do we resist loving and accepting others because they do not meet our expectations?
-- David L. Weatherford
Have you ever met someone, spent time trying to get to know them, and then realized that there is just something about them that doesn’t quite mesh with who you are? Maybe their beliefs clash with your own, their personality doesn’t line up with yours, or their Type A mentality doesn’t bode well with your laid-back way of living. It can be very hard to coexist with individuals who are different than yourself. 
I talk a lot about accepting who God made you to be and learning to use your uniqueness to find your purpose, but how do we handle the individuality of those around us? Do we accept it? Or do we try to find ways to change the other person? If the qualities that make us different provide purpose and meaning for our own lives, shouldn’t we accept and even encourage the differences in others? Instead, we often complain, become agitated with, and discretely hint at the need for the individual to change their qualities that we perceive as bothersome. Granted, no one is perfect and we all have issues that we need to work on to become better versions of ourselves. What, though, would happen if we put our differences aside and not only attempted to see how our own lives can be used to better the world around us, but also tried to see how others in our lives can better the world? As I said, we so often try to change those around us, but what if we allowed them to be who they are created to be in order to fulfill a purpose in our own life? I believe an ultimate sign of maturity is first, being aware of the innate desire to feel needed and useful, which is present in everyone, and then, allowing and encouraging others to develop their own way in which to fulfill this desire. It’s one thing to tolerate differences, it’s another to wholly accept them. I do want to point out that you do not necessarily have to agree with or embody their actions, beliefs, or interactions with others. For example, I am an extremely non-confrontational individual. I HATE conflict. Honestly, that’s an understatement. This aspect of my personality can strongly clash with others who confront every single issue that goes against their sense of well-being. We all have different ways of interacting according to our personalities. But by accepting who they are, I don’t have to become who they are. I often feel that certain conflicts can be disregarded whereas someone else may strongly feel they need to be dealt with. This difference can be used to teach us both something. Me, how to be more assertive when the need arises, my friend, how to let go of an issue that need not escalate at this point in time. We need to begin to allow our differences, one of God’s most beautiful gifts to us (in my opinion), to help us reach our full potential as ourselves. We don’t need to try to be just like everyone else, but we need to learn from them and also support them in reaching their full potential as themselves. We can’t control everyone and we can’t change everyone. We can accept everyone and allow who we are created to be to help them become who they are created to be. 
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