Every night when I tuck the girls in, Clare gets a kiss on the lips and Sophie gets a kiss on the forehead.
If I didn’t go through with this ritual, Clare would probably say something. She has gone out of her way to make sure it happens, so if I avoided it for some reason, I think she would probably call me out on it. If I didn’t go through the ritual with Sophie, I doubt she would say anything. But I can tell she values it as a part of the routine and would miss it if it were gone.
Different kids need different things.
Different kids respond differently too. Just because one expresses the way they feel about something, and one does not.. does not mean only one of them has an opinion.
Sounds sensible, right?
But is it how we are treating the people around us? One size fits all is an easy approach, but I know for a fact it doesn’t work for my kiddos.
Or my friends. Or my community.
My girls have different preferences in clothing. And food. And television shows. And free time.
One processes things out loud with wit and clever conversation.
The other internally considers her options and comes to conclusions without interaction.
One size does NOT fit all when it comes to their clothes or personalities or how they approach conflict. This goes for our neighbors too. It goes for all the people we are commanded to love in our lives. Your spouse. Your son. Your daughter. Best friends. Peers. Co-workers. Even your enemies.
People are wired different.
And so we have to approach them with compassion and patience and grace.
When Clare wants to talk, she sits down and says “Mom, we need to talk.”
When Sophie wants to talk she just sits down in the vicinity… or starts lurking around waiting for whatever seems to be the appropriate time. If I wait for her to say, “Mom, we need to talk,” I might as well forget about it.
Let’s remember that loving our neighbor means meeting people where they are. And bringing lots of grace and love along, no matter where we meet.
Hold up, hold up, hold up, people. Wait, wait.
Let’s be clear about something:
THIS IS REALLY TERRIBLY TOUGH. It’s serious. It’s heavy. Arduous. Toilsome. Burdensome! Backbreaking! I went to the thesaurus and looked up a bunch of words but mostly I just want to say this is SOOO HARD.
This thing where we really consider what others need, instead of just checking them off our to-do list…. it’s like one of the most unselfish things we can do.
Somedays it feels mostly impossible.
We are so prone to the-world-revolves-around-me. We are all about our OWN perspective and how MY way of doing things is… well, IS the best way. (bold) Not only that, but some people make it REALLY REALLY HARD to love them! They are SOOO difficult and cranky and just WEIRD and they don’t make any sense to us. Why do they have to BE that way? I’m so done with them. I’m not even going there.
I very much know.
When I was thinking about my girls the other day, though… I was thinking about how for them – how I love them so much and even though they are SUCH a challenge some days – I want to personalize my love for them. I want to seek out the best way for each of them so we can find a way to get along and I can maybe start to have a clue when Clare is losing it about how much she can’t stand her brother, and maybe I could head her off at the pass and meet her where she is so we can get that thing back on the road.
And then I got to thinking that I would love to be able to do that with my husband and my close friends and maybe even people I’m not super close with, but with whom I have to interact with regularly.
And that’s when I realized all of this is about love and grace and forgiveness and not looking inside at how I want things to be, but looking outside and figuring out where people are.
That if I care… if I value that relationship… that’s what I’m going to have to do sometimes. Or maybe all the time.
This is really the opposite of what our culture says.
“If you don’t like this speed, you won’t like my other one.”
“Accept me as I am, or out to the curb with you.”
But God says My ways are not your ways. So if you want to keep that relationship around – if you want to cultivate that relationship – if you treasure it – you are going to have to treat it special. You’ll have to put something extra into it.
Different people have different needs.
When we acknowledge that fact, it can make a difference in a relationship.
May nothing less than the audacity of the Holy Spirit empower us to love our neighbors.