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In 1969, I was in first grade, and I remember the teacher rolling in a big tube TV set on a cart. She plugged it in and was very excited, as she told us kids about this really cool new show. It was Sesame Street! You know, with Big Bird, Bert and Ernie and Oscar the Grouch and many other famous characters. One of the skits we always looked forward to was “Which One of These is NOT Like the Other?” It taught us to recognize how things are different even if they are mostly the same.

Fast forward 35 years to 2004. My children are in first and third grade. My mother is a lung transplant candidate, and my wife, boys and I are with her at a pot luck lunch with her and many other transplant recipients and candidates. A very pretty young lady with short blonde hair, sits down at our table next to Tommy, my third grader. It doesn’t take long to notice that due to a birth defect, it appears she has hands, but no arms.

Tommy looks wide eyed at me and then because we raised him to be a good communicator, he turns to her and asks the question. “What’s wrong with your hands?” I could have crawled under the table. My mother was mortified. My wife gave me “the look.”

This obviously was not the first time the young lady had been in this situation, as she gracefully rescued Tommy and me from our predicament. She explained that nothing was “wrong” with her, she was just born different. She had to have a heart transplant several years ago and the same developmental issue caused her to not have arms as long as most people have.

I waited a few tics and then pulled Tommy close to me and whispered fatherly advice about how we need to say nice and positive things as we recognize and point out the differences we notice in people. Feeling all Ward Cleaver about myself, as Tommy nodded that he understood, I watched as he turned to her and confidently said “Hey…..  nice hands.’  Wow!  Kids……  What are you going to do?

But you know, over the years, God has used that as a life lesson for me in this sense. In the Bible, Romans 12:2 tells us “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

God calls us to be different! Transformed and renewed. Not the same as the world. Obviously and clearly different. We prove what God’s will is for us by being DIFFERENT. We are all made in the same image of God, but as Christians we are called to not be like the others.

When we sit at the table, does anyone notice we are different, or do we blend right in? Do we try to please and conform to the world’s standard or live by God’s? Does anyone ever ask us “What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you hold a grudge…Why are you so forgiving…Why are you always happy….Why do you care?” And finally….. do we understand we have a Heavenly Father Who will lay on their hearts that our being different is not a bad thing?

Which one of you is not like the other?

Photo credit: Public Broadcasting Service