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Last week, my husband sent me a real estate ad.  A series of ranches are on the market in Brewster County, my dad’s home county in West Texas.  I clicked through and looked at videos and longed for the high desert.  Then a comment from my mother-in-law popped up.

“You’d need a really big mower.”

They call them cows, Judy.  That was my first cheeky response.  I told her to look at the photos. This is high desert.  No mower needed but, and this would be so cool!, I could have a mesa.  She responded.  “I think if you could afford that ranch you could afford someone else to mow.”

As my grandmother would have said, God Bless her pointy little head.  My mother-in-law grew up in Kentucky.  I don’t know that she’s ever been to God’s country, the high desert of West Texas.  So I explained again that it is a desert. No mower needed unless you make it so.

Conversations like this make me realize how miraculous it is when we manage to understand someone from a completely different culture. After all, my mother-in-law and I are both Americans.  But she doesn’t get high desert.  Either there are cows and the land is covered by lush grass or it is desert, a desolate land where nothing grows.

But then again I was just as clueless the first time I was in Kentucky, specifically in the bluegrass where thoroughbreds graze and frolic.  “That’s strange.  All of the houses look alike,” I said as we drove by yet another long one-story structure.  “Hon, that’s a stable.”  What horses in Kentucky don’t shelter in barns?  Nope.  You dry tobacco in barns.

The world is an amazingly varied place. Even when you and someone else seem to be speaking the same language, you are coming at the conversation from different experiences.  When you don’t speak the same language, the effort needed is even greater but think of all the amazing things you might learn about how other people live.

–SueBE

 

diversityToday I got a phone call from a friend.  It was that kind of a phone call.  Doesn’t matter how much you have to get done, you sit and listen.  You say a few things, and, then, you listen some more.

One of her grandchildren recently came out as transgendered. Liam’s teachers and classmates are cool with Liam being Liam, but it is causing a rift in the family. One aunt in particular is convinced this child will burn in Hell.  Anyone who supports Liam is also heading in that direction.

“As a Christian, what do you have to say?”

I had to think about it before I could answer in part because I wasn’t sure which part of the whole mess she wanted to discuss.  “If you mean the part about hell, one of my Sunday school teachers explained it like this, no matter where you end up, you’re going to be surprised by who else is there.  Besides, Presbyterians vote on a lot but I don’t think we get to vote on this. It’s up to God.”

“But she thinks that Liam is insulting the God who made him in His image.”

“You mean the God who made really light people, really dark people and everyone in between?  The God who made men and women?  That God?”

“Yes!”

“Look, I don’t get what Liam is going through.  I’ve never known what it felt like to feel wrong in my skin. I can imagine what it might feel like, I can listen, but I don’t know. But God made us all in infinite variety. And he puts up with our wearing clothes, coloring our hair and wearing jewelry.  That’s all pretty unnatural but I don’t think my green nail polish is going to be a deal breaker. God made Liam and God loves Liam.”

To all of the Liam’s out there, understand that God loves you. I may not understand your journey, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to condemn you for it. I’ll listen as you tell me about it and I hope that you’ll listen when I speak. After all, as Lori put it in her post, your brokenness isn’t my brokenness, but mine isn’t yours either.  If we can accept that reality, we just might be able to help each other along.

–SueBE

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