By Rosie Adle
These days there’s a strong push to acknowledge everyone through awareness and appreciation. This month is _________ Awareness Month. (Google the answer.) More specifically, today is _________ Appreciation Day. (Look it up.)
Every day, week, and month are set aside for some special reflection, and while national pizza day and national ice cream month have special places in my heart, all of our observances may never be enough. 365 days in a year with an approximate planet population of 7 billion? You know someone’s going to be left out. Case in point: in the U.K., Dove now offers body-wash bottles made to resemble and celebrate body-type differences, but, of course, there is backlash. “Where’s my bottle?” folks fret when they see that the new line doesn’t feature their particular particularities. Meanwhile others sigh, “What’s the silly point? I want to get clean! I don’t care if it’s shaped like an apple or a pear or one of those impossibly proportioned Pom bottles!”
Doggedly chasing the world’s standard for inclusivity and hypersensitivity often falls flat and possibly lands with a lawsuit or two. But maybe there’s another way. Perhaps rather than trying to think of every one we could simply think of everyone – with all of the distinctions set aside for a moment. We can see humans as humanity and relax a bit about absolute awareness and appreciation of every singular circumstance.
Is it important that we be aware of people’s trials and appreciate people’s distinctions? Yes. It is important because every individual is a part of the whole. For God so loved the world – the world! How so? He gave His only Son: for you, for me, for all.
Now we participate in the lives of those around us. When someone is hurting, we are aware of it because we are there. When our Lord looked on those in hunger, pain and want, He didn’t just have awareness. He had compassion (Matt. 9:36; Matt. 14:14; Mark 6:34; Luke 7:13, etc.). Likewise, we suffer with those near to us, which is the real meaning of compassion. As to appreciation, we affirm all those around us because they were knit together with care and loving attention to detail (Ps. 139:13). Those knitting details make each person different, and also the same. We are all unique; it’s one of those glorious things we all have in common. And for believers in Jesus, we are all in Him, which is really what defines us for eternity.
So, if being aware and appreciative according to a prescribed schedule has you down, tear your eyes away from the cosmic calendar and look at the people closest to you. Share in their lives, and point them to Christ, who so loved the world!
Deaconess Rosie Adle is an online instructor for the distance deaconess program of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind. She is co-author of LadyLike: Living Biblically.