The starkness of a leafless tree against a backdrop of fresh fallen snow had a dignity all its own. The pewter sky made it look like it was set on a large cloth for display. The wind made the bare branches wave, almost mocking in their sad nakedness. And it was so cold.
So who am I kidding? Enough of the poetic phrases–it was stinking cold. I had the chance to be in Chicago for several days visiting family, and this Florida gal just about froze her tushumies off. There weren’t enough clothes in the world to keep me warm.
But it was beautiful.
The reality is that I used to live in the cold north, the frozen tundra. I was raised in the Midwest and lived there quite a few years after getting married. I’ve donned my fair share of snowsuits, mittens, hats–and put the same on kids–more times than I care to think.
It’s amazing how time alters your reality.
When we moved to Florida, I felt as if I’d entered the world’s largest sauna, wrapped around world-class attractions and more hotels than you could shake a stick at. I never thought I’d grow accustomed to heat and humidity. But I did. I now do hot and humid well.
Not so much cold, dry and miserable.
As I sat in the plane, gratefully flying back to my hot and humid, I thought of how quickly I categorized these differences in my mind.
Warm was good. Cold was bad.
And I had to ask myself: Am I that quick to asses worth or valuelessness to things just because they’re different? Just because something makes me uncomfortable? There are actually many people who love cold, snowy weather and despise heat and humidity. Does that make them wrong?
No. Just different.
And the thought struck me that too often I categorize people in much the same way. Those who are difficult or prickly or uncomfortable for me, I too often easily dismiss. Different isn’t bad. It’s just different. And when I choose only to be in situations or with people that don’t challenge the way I think or deal with life, I’m the one who loses, because I’ll never grow in who I am.
Jesus addressed this thought in the Sermon on the Mount. His take on dealing with the different is starkly different from the way most people think.
“God gives His best–the sun to warm and the rain to nourish–to everyone, regardless; the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.” Matthew 5:43-47
I need to rethink how I approach life and people, not with an assumption of different being wrong, but with the possibility of growth and maturity that makes me a better person.
Which means I may have to rethink my attitude about cold.