Whatever you think you know about me—forget it.
There’s far more than me than that. I am an immensely complex person who defies being put in any box, who resists any stereotype, who refuses to be what you expect me to be.
I am a pastor—but not that kind of pastor. I am a Baptist—but not that kind of Baptist. I am a husband—but I am not like other husbands. I am a father—but like no other father you have known. Same for my other roles as brother, uncle, boss, mentor, friend, and more. I don’t fit in your box.
I am me.
I am me and no one else. And the minute you forget it, you will be surprised, let down, or angry. You may feel betrayed, affirmed, or perplexed. But it’s not my fault. I didn’t put me in a box. I didn’t put me in a pigeonhole. I didn’t limit who I could be. You did.
But you know what else. All the same could (and should) be said for you too. My difference isn’t that I am different but how I am different. Because you are different too, and your difference is different than mine.
Talk myself in a circle yet? Probably.
But so much conflict, so much hate, so much misunderstanding and miscommunication seems to come from the fact that we do not allow other people to be more than we know. I am no more the pastor who has gone before me than I am the boyfriend my wife had previous to our meeting. Those people are not me and I am not them, though my relationships may be colored by those that were before.
Same thing with you. You may remind me of someone else—and therefore I am tempted to treat you as such. But you are not them; they are not you. We are each unique creations of our God. We are each unique manifestations of the Divine Image.
If only we could understand that. If only we could treat each other as the unique creations they are, then maybe we could know peace.
Still going in circles? Me too. But together—and apart—we will put one foot in front of another and live into God’s peaceable kingdom. So I hope.