Lately, I’ve taken to morning walks not only to shed a few pounds but to also stimulate my brain. As I enjoy the fresh fall air, I am struck by the wide variety of trees and leaves on my path and how beautiful they all are.
Why can’t we appreciate people the same way?
The woods I walk past are God planted, not man-made. The trees seem randomly placed. There are all kinds, shapes and colors. Some are evergreen magnolias, short scrub oaks, lanky pines and majestic maples. There are more I can’t even name.
A few of them are shedding their leaves. Others are in various states of fall splendor and transform daily. And then there are those that remain unchanged yet provide a backdrop for the dynamic show.
I suspect God planted these different trees together for reason. Each one serves a purpose. Larger trees provide cover for smaller varieties. Some bloom, others shed. Hard woods are mixed in with soft pines.
People are just as diverse as the trees that line my path. We have various body shapes, skin colors, personalities, and backgrounds. Yet, God has placed us all here to share this one earth. What if the diversity among us is intended to make humanity better as a whole?
Many of us attempt to “convert” others into what we believe is proper. Our tolerance for others isn’t always what it should be even as we yearn to be seen and heard. We gravitate toward people like us. Very rarely do most of us dare deliberately talk and mingle with people much different from ourselves.
I have seen creative or “artistic” people scoffed at and challenged to do something “practical” instead of nurturing the gifts God gave them. I’ve watched people dismissed and discounted because of the color of their skin, gender or sexual orientation.
We do ourselves a disservice when we can’t appreciate others and see beyond whatever label or stereotype that first comes to mind. Each one of us is created in our Father’s image. Still, some of us have placed God in such a small box, we often fail to recognize Him let alone the people He created!
What if the individual characteristics that make each of us unique are there to serve a purpose?
When we quickly dismiss people far different from ourselves we lose opportunities to learn and grow.
It may require us to intentionally go to new places or talk with people unlike ourselves to receive blessings we don’t even know we need.
As I look around at all the various trees they remind me of the “different” people God placed in my life. They have been of different religions, nationalities, races, economic statuses, political affiliations and only God knows what else.
Many “different” people blessed me at some of the hardest times of my life. A few influenced my thinking. One in particular encouraged me to face my challenges head on. Still, others made my daily routine that much easier to bear.
With all of our differences we somehow managed to find more common ground that not. And through each one of them, so very different from myself, I realize I’ve been blessed.
“Thus saith God, the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:” Isaiah 42:5 KJV
** Feel free to join our dialogue on race relations that begins 10/21/16 with myself and Susan Irene Fox.