Last month, I spent the weekend with the love of my life, composing my first book proposal in a beautiful downtown hotel. Our 25th wedding anniversary, truly memorable…
As we park the car in the parking garage and walk into the hotel lobby, God begins to talk to me about diversity and the need to stretch outside my comfort zone and love His people for who we are.
It’s a beautiful summer day, our 25th anniversary. I feel a bit intimidated in the hotel lobby upon check in. I find myself in a collage of people from different backgrounds, different walks of life, different heritages. Some are quiet and reserved, others celebrate more obtrusively and loud. There are business men and women, a wedding party, a couple speaking a language I don’t recognize, obviously from an country far away. A girlfriends weekend getaway, an elderly couple in town for a doctor visit, a whole conference of Microsoft employees, a same sex couple wanting to be accepted in some way. I hear voices and accents all different, bodies shapes and sizes varied, skin colors, hair, eyes: diversity, yet we are all gathered here this weekend in this hotel to meet the common need for shelter and sustenance. When you get right down to it, how diverse are we?
I am uncomfortable. I stretch. My mind, thoughts, feelings, judgements…. Who am I? Does my discomfort line up with the Jesus in me? Do I love His creation, the diversity? Or does it terrify me and make me want to hide in my own little corner with only those who are like me? I DO want to embrace diversity! How? How do I do it? What can I do to break down the walls that separate? I want to love, learn, accept, make a difference.
How do I set aside the fear of our differences. I want to learn from diversity. Our differences make the world beautiful. Can I learn from you? Can I love what makes you different from me? Even when I disagree with your beliefs? Do I love you because you too are His creation and my fellow man?
We step outside the hotel lobby in downtown Houston. I take a deep breath, thinking I am walking away from the discomfort, diversity. It’s a beautiful day to take a walk, maybe look for a restaurant with some flare, something a little out of the ordinary, for our anniversary dinner. I am okay with diversity in that.
Before I reach the edge of the block, I am stopped by a man asking for help. Just released from prison, jobless, homeless, hopeless? On the streets of downtown Houston, how can I really help? I offer a $5 bill in his direction. Before he can even see what it is that I offer, he asks me to please just listen to his cause before I drop my money in his hand and escape his plight.
He wants more help than I can give, a job, a place to stay, just listen to his story, (or his excuse, I wonder)? I am not sure what to do. He tells me of a place he can stay for $12 a night, but how can he get there, it is not located downtown? I listen. I inquire of his belief in God and a personal relationship with Jesus? He tells me he has already tried all that and “he has his relationship with God”, as he speaks with a negative connotation.
I pray with him and give him a $50 bill, hoping he can get to a place to stay and find work. I don’t have a job or place for him to stay…. what else can I do?
I don’t know how, so I do what I can, to try.
This diversity thing, I struggle. I want a comfortable fit. I don’t like the feelings I experience. I don’t know how to embrace diversity.
Greg and I turn around. In front of the 4 star hotel, we walk past a prostitute, diversity. I am too uncomfortable to look her in the eyes. I know she needs what I have. Why do I pass her by. Still uncomfortable from my last confrontation with diversity. How can I overcome this? What can I do?
Back into our hotel room, sandwiches instead of dinner out. $50 to make a difference, a gift to fight my tendency to avoid diversity, originally money for our anniversary dinner. I do not regret the gift or the sandwich. I want to make a difference. I gladly eat a sandwich for our 25th anniversary. It is memorable, beautiful even.
I feel empowered, a little. Now on the rooftop beside the pool, a warm breeze blows as the sun sets on a panoramic view of our city. I defy the arguing inside my head that wants me to live small. I engage with the diversity around me. I strike up conversations outside my comfort zone. Amazingly, we can find something to talk about.
And what if different makes us compatible? What if differences could bring us together? I observe and process the differences, my thoughts, my feelings.
God’s creation is diverse. It is time for the body of Christ to rise up and embrace diversity. We are called to love one another, truly love one another, embrace the differences and use the differences as strength to reach the world for Christ.
There is a true beauty in the diversity God has created in the human race. We are a people of variety. Personalities, ethnicities, traditions, religions, beliefs. Colors of skin from darkest chocolate black to purest ivory white. Darkest, smiling, beautiful slanted eyes. Big round bluest sky. Eyes that resemble a window to the world. Slimmest lips of pink and red. Plumpest lips of darkest brown. Hands so fragile, hands so strong. Beauty is slender or in voluptuous curves. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
You created all things beautifully. Humans like flowers in the garden. We range in colors, shapes and size. We blossom and bloom in our own time and yet side by side intermingled we show off most gloriously.
Hearts that love You. One and the same. Hearts that don’t know You, yet beat to the same rhythm. A God to each of us, You show no favor. God of humanity diversity savors.