Not sure when I first noticed that I was different, or turning this thought around, that all those other people were different than me. Or was it that we were the same? I don’t think it began at too young an age. After all, Sonny and Bilbo were shirtless 4-year-olds just like me wandering Rockmont Road.
No, my insight came a few years later, when I was the new kid in a new town in a new neighborhood. New, I would learn, means different. And different meant being teased for mispronouncing “bow” as in bending over at the waist and “bow” as in shooting arrows with one. There were other definitions like not having a mini-bike when the other neighborhood boys did and realizing their houses were bigger than mine. I could heave a few more perplexing moments on the pile, but I would echo what everyone learns.
Being different is an interesting coin. On one side, who wants to be different? Don’t we want to fit in? Isn’t it better not to be teased, to own a mini-bike just like the other boys? Becoming a part of the gang drove me, twisted my thinking toward conformity.
Inside me, another person sought attention. I thought to be different could mean leverage over those earlier slights. Golf became my vehicle and when my skills surpassed theirs, I became the same in my difference, just like them. Youth’s rough and tumble incubator began a strange theme reaching into adulthood. Some people never get over being 11-years-old.
Adam and Eve didn’t want to be different either. Curiosity may have prompted them to eat the fruit, but didn’t they want to know what God knew, to fit in? And once they knew, they realized how different they were. We’ve been covering up ever since.
Covering up meant taking ownership over the knowledge of good and evil, to be as God. How else could man cope? Instead of making excuses, if Adam and Eve had asked God for forgiveness, would history have been different?
Different and same have connotations in every age. The Human Genome Project drew the conclusion Homo Sapiens were 99.9% alike, which is another way of saying, “Why can’t we all get along?” Different and same, those two tempters inside me, jostled for my attention, to be heard, and often were. But the 0.01 loomed while the 99.9 seemed light years away.
The prophet Hosea knew something about being different and fitting in. He married a prostitute because God told him. That’s different. The marriage was a way of saying Israel had strayed, trying to fit in with all those idols and sinners. That’s not so different.
The marriage was also a way for God to say to Israel I will take you back, forgive you, which He did and has and will again. He takes us back, too.
I’m at peace with different and same. The two deceive me no more.
“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15, NKJV).