I’m different. I’ve been told this in dozens of ways for dozens of reasons.
I have a disability. Spina bifida makes me walk funny. That’s hard for people to understand. (“She doesn’t use a wheelchair. It doesn’t look like cerebral palsy. No other problems that make it look like she was in an accident. I don’t get it.”)
I’m single. I’m not working terribly hard to change this fact. (“Now that’s just plain weird. Maybe there’s something wrong with her. Doesn’t she know she’s unhappy?”)
I work as a counselor with adults who have serious & persistent mental illness. I like my job. (“So is that with retarded kids? Doesn’t she know she could get paid lots more to do something else? Aren’t ‘those people’ violent?”) FYI, the answers to those are no, it’s not about the money, and no.
So I’m pretty used to being different. It’s become almost a trademark of mine.
Today at the Ablaze Rally, we were instructed to turn to our neighbors and say “You are different.” Not that hard to do. Get into a room with 3,000 other people, and the differences stand out. Physical impairments, widows, various languages and ethnicities, and even character flaws. I questioned how we could accomplish our goal of winning others to the church. Did we as a group make an appealing argument for someone considering joining our ranks? Then I realized that it felt complimentary, even affirming to be called different in this context.
The answer to my earlier doubts was obvious. Everybody has something about them that makes them different. That’s the result of sin in our lives and our world. Who wouldn’t want to belong to a group of misfits who understand and accept each other’s differences, even the unpleasant ones? The flipside of being different is that as Christians it is precisely what we are called to be. We need to be intentional and bold about living differently.