We Go Through Stuff Differently by Patty LaRoche

Your story is not my story. (And yes, I sense you celebrating.) Like the picture shows, “We all go through the same stuff differently.” Soooo true!

Example: One friend stresses when her fingernail polish chips. I am thrilled when I exit the manicurist and make it home without red streaks dotting my steering wheel. A mere chip for me is a reason to rejoice. Still, nail polish or not, I enjoy hanging with my gal-pal because she is ultra-patriotic, loves to laugh, is transparent and doesn’t hold a grudge.

Another friend, while visiting her daughter’s orphanage in Haiti, was held at gunpoint, taken to an abandoned area and calmly prayed her way out of danger. Calmly? CALMLY? Not in my top 100 reactions. And even though one of us, I admit, is more excitable than the other, we appreciate girl-gabs where we share our faith and love for Jesus as she demonstrates how to have peace in the storms of life.

I have friends who are chronically late, who are perfectionists, who are hypochondriacs, who are emotionally insecure, who are inconsiderate drivers, who can’t admit their mistakes and who never invite me to their houses, but they all overlook my issues that surely drive them crazy (although, for the life of me, I can’t imagine what they are).

So, let me repeat: We go through stuff differently. We all have unique wirings/ personality quirks, and for those matters we must give others the right to be different. Paul wrote to the Romans, suggesting how the Jews and the Gentiles should handle their differences. His advice is as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago. In Ch. 14, he writes to encourage Jesus’ followers to live in unity, respecting the different backgrounds with which they came to know Jesus. They weren’t to argue over what foods they were to eat or the necessity of circumcision. Disagreements were to be avoided…unless there were eternal consequences.

We all can learn from Paul and from each other, even if all we learn is to keep our opinions to ourselves. Recently, someone shared that when her baby died, a friend told her she should get a dog. Two years had gone by, and it was “time” she moved on. Perhaps that would have been good counsel for the insensitive friend (although I doubt it), but clearly, the friend did not give the bereaved mother the latitude to go through her tragic “stuff” differently.

Let’s be clear. Accepting others “stuff” does not mean that we avoid conversations about eternal issues. (“If you want to go to Hell, that’s your business.”) “Millie” is a Mazatlán friend with whom it has been difficult to find commonalities. She hates (truly, hates) President Trump, does not believe in God and is married to an egotist who treats her unkindly. Still, we hang out, discuss philanthropic opportunities and play a semblance of tennis. From her, I’ve learned that quiet generosity is the best kind, and from me, she recognizes the importance of my faith.

So, what are we to do with others’ stuff, the stuff that can drive us bonko? We should major on the majors and not on the minors. Friendships are taxing when we do otherwise. We must accept that God created each of us with our own DNA and not as clones. By accepting others individuality, we have a much better chance of drawing others to Him… not to mention, making and keeping friends.

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