A gentle, cool breeze caressed our faces as Hunter and I strolled through crowds of people at Lake Geneva’s Annual Winterfest. We stood in awe at the marvelous display of snow sculptures before us. Starting from single blocks of snow, sculptures were carved with intricate detail each representing a specific theme. There were fantasy figures, animals, robots, snakes, aliens and more. Every sculpture was beautiful in its own unique way that touched a distinct part of our soul. But it was more than the artwork itself that made them spectacular — it was the beauty in the differences that made them special.
If true beauty exists within our differences, then why in today’s culture we shun or push away anything that’s different from us? Why do we have trouble accepting and appreciating the variety of opinions, talents and perspectives? I admit that I’m guilty as the next person responding with a knee-jerk reaction to someone who lives or thinks different from me.
Many of us build concrete walls preventing others who are different from entering into our world. Instead of opening our hearts, we fiercely protect ourselves. We become afraid to connect deeply with one another. Sadly, this leads to prejudice and mistrust of people who are of different race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, social status, gender or other stereotypes. Miscommunication and wrong perceptions are born causing fights, strife and wars between us.
But let’s look at the trees in nature. There are tall and small trees. Prickly pine trees and whispering willow trees. In the fall, the leaves change into a variety of colors creating a unique pattern within each tree. They are all different, yet they exist peacefully among each other. There is no arguing like, “My tree trunk is taller than yours!” Or “You should be like me with flat leaves instead of poky needles.” Instead, the trees stand together in harmony growing and living as God made for them to be. Such great wisdom we as humans can learn from the trees.
I think we are like different instruments in one, big symphony with God as our conductor unifying us together to play the beautiful, masterpiece of life. But to create this masterpiece, we must play in harmony with one another expressing our gifts in our own way. Each of us serves an important role and by allowing God to direct our performance, we can create joyful melodies that soothe our souls.
If we could learn to exist this way by celebrating our differences instead of admonishing them, the world would be a more peaceful place. We live many different paths, but yet the same living as one. And, it’s this connectedness and oneness that brings light and love to the world.
So how can we accept each other’s differences and learn to live in harmony with one another?
Be open to allowing things to be as just they are. When you are with someone who has difference views, accept and embrace them fully. Be present while honoring their right to express themselves in their own way.
Make the effort to listen intently to someone else’s point of view without judgment or trying to persuade them to agree with you. You don’t have to change your viewpoint. Just acknowledge their opinion respecting them from their position. If possible, try to see things from their perspective. You never know, their ideas might shed some light on your view helping you to see things with a fresh eye.
Love each other in spite of our differences. Learn to respond with kindness, patience and tolerance. It’s easy to react with negativity when you’re face-to-face with a friend living a different lifestyle than you. Instead, meet them from where they are. We all have our own life path to experience with unique lessons to learn. Love and help one another on our journey towards inner growth and peace.
A great learning opportunity presents itself when meeting someone with different views or backgrounds. It’s exciting and unlimited to what the world can teach you. If everyone were the same, valuable education would be lost. Take advantage of this moment to learn and apply it into your life.
In order to accept someone else, you need to love and accept yourself first. The more comfortable you are in your own skin, the more comfortable you’ll be with different types of people. Most of us are experts at finding our faults. Trade it in to become a super strength finder and appreciate all that you are.
There is great beauty in the differences between us. Imagine if we were all the same. Life would be dull and boring…wouldn’t it? Surrender to the uniqueness that exists within our humanity and become wise like the trees. Learn to play in harmony with each of our gifts to create a beautiful masterpiece every day. Love our differences and accept everyone for who they are. No matter how different our views, backgrounds or perceptions are, we are still interconnected as one with the ability to serve a special role in this world for greater joy and peace.