Ever seen a pink elephant? No? Well, maybe in a cartoon or a children’s book. Seeing pink elephants was a way of saying that a person was delusional, or possibly had tossed back a few too many. But this little guy is the real deal. He is a very rare albino elephant spotted by tourists in Kruger National Park in South Africa. He could be in serious danger since his unique color makes him a target for predators. Surprisingly, the herd has accepted him. Indeed, the other adults don’t seem to notice that anything is different about him.
No one wants to be different. Most of us go thru life trying desperately to fit in because the truth is that those who don’t fit the mold of “normal”, won’t get many party invitations. If you look different, act different or think differently you will probably face a struggle for acceptance every day. Our society likes to think that we encourage individuality. Even within the church, we love to point out verses that tell us how we are all fearfully and wonderfully made. Each one of us is as unique as a snowflake, as individual as our fingerprints are. Though we strive to teach our children to celebrate those differences, the sad truth is that being different can be very lonely.
I made a decision about twenty years ago that has impacted every area of my life. I decided that I had messed things up enough and it was time to let someone else take over. That “someone else” was Jesus and He has turned my thinking, actions and the way I see the world around me upside down. Everything is different now and I can see that reflected in how others look at me.
What might surprise you is that I am not so concerned with how my old family and friends treat me. They are actually quite respectful of my choices and I love them so much for that. It’s often how my church brothers and sisters look at me that can be hurtful. When I don’t view an issue exactly as they do, they will wait for that moment to “lovingly correct” me. As I get older and feel more secure in my relationship with Christ, such things do not bother me as much. I don’t need the approval of others as much as a “well done” from my Savior. However, I see the same concerned correction happening to the next generation as they try and stretch their wings. As much as I value the advice from experienced elder saints, I am put off by the smugness I have encountered and if I dare to admit it – sometimes shown myself. If only we could learn to respect the individual journeys that we are all on. Sometimes the mistakes we make are the very things that teach us the deeper lessons. So, I guess that while there are times to advise, there will also be times to keep my mouth shut. Oh Lord, I pray for the wisdom to know the difference.
For this God is our God for ever and ever, he will be our guide even to the end.
The definition of a Christian life should be one that is led, to the very end of his days, by Christ. Where He leads me is bound to be different from where He will lead another. Perhaps we are simply at different points on the path so our perspectives may look at different horizons. Rather than look to “correct” those who seem to follow a different path, let’s ask for discretion to know when to help and compassion to console when wrong turns are taken.
We are all different; fearfully and wonderfully made and loved by a God who won’t be put off if we are pink instead of gray. He will accept us as lovingly as the elephant herd accepts its “different” baby. Perhaps they have learned to look beyond the differences to a place where such things no longer register to their eyes. That, after all, is the way God sees us.