Sometimes I like to stretch myself with a culture-bending question. It’s too easy for me to remain unaware of my own assumptions and biases. This idea comes to me more and more as I travel around the world.
I have now been to Mexico, Singapore, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Israel, Jordan, Italy, Spain, and Russia. (If you count airport layovers, I’ve also been to Japan and Switzerland).
And each country has its own culture, ways and assumptions.
Each time I have traveled it seems as though something inside of me enlarges. I grow to appreciate another culture and see how its people live. I’d also like to think my capacity to love increases.
Take a look at the two images posted here.
Now that you have seen those two women, take a moment to decide:
Which of them is more valuable?
It’s a ludicrous question, isn’t it? We know that all are created equal and are equally loved.
But let’s get honest for a minute. Don’t we have some built-in ways that we quietly judge someone by the way they look, or by what they own? I am willing to admit that I do it. I’m not proud of this, but I have to own up to it.
It’s easy to have a one-way (my way) attitude that is influenced by the fact that I live in one of the wealthiest regions of the world.
As I have traveled, my eyes have been opened to a multitude of ways that people live. And I have found that the people with less “stuff” tend to be more happy and content.
We may not do it on purpose, but our culture has taught us (through some carefully curated advertisements) that certain people are more important, more respected or more revered. Then, of course, they tempt us to be more like that important person by purchasing whatever item it is they are using to be that cool.
I’m trying to stretch myself here, beyond the cultural norms. I’m trying to turn my gaze to the ways of the kingdom of God through the lens of an unhurried life.
Who is the most valuable? Are there times when you connect your value or worth to what you look like or what you accomplish? Does this ever cause you to push and angst in an effort to prove your value?
The truth is that you are valuable simply because you exist. And so is everyone else. Our love of neighbor, without reservation, begins with love of ourselves, without reservation.
So, let’s ask the question one more time and speak out the obvious answer:
Which one is more valuable? Neither. They are both equally loved and valued. And so are you. Let’s continue to share that love without reservation.