Forgiveness of Those Who Are Different

  • Lynda Savage, M.S., LMFT, LPC
  • Series: Spring 2016 Volume 23 Issue 2
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Forgiveness is vital to the Christian faith.  It’s hard under our own personal steam to forgive. Recently, I presented a little talk on core differences in people. These differences aren’t good or bad. They most often stem from how people are “wired.” There are definite different ways individuals pursue calm for their central nervous system. The differences in how people are wired often causes stretching and growth in close relationships with friends, spouse, and family.

For example: Some people relax by being alone. Some people relax by being with and talking with others. Let’s imagine these two different styles of seeking calm are sitting next to each other on an airplane. One continues to make bids for conversation in order to relax and the other seeks to block out any distractions in order to relax. It’s easy to feel the clash of styles here.

Part of what happens to people when they are under duress is they blame another’s style, and thus the person for keeping them from a calm state. After a hard day, these differing styles of being together can bring thoughts of, "You are such a selfish person because you need to be alone and I have been slaving all day" or "Why on earth are you going on and on about nothing and bothering me when I have worked so hard today?

The problem here is not the small bumps in the road of life like this example, but a cumulative experience over time concluding that I’m right and you are wrong. In seeking to be a Christ follower, we might well learn that these different “wirings” actually cause us to grow in mercy and compassion as we seek God’s answers to our upsets with others.

Forgiveness is something we will do well to ask God to create in us.  With His empowerment, we will see the following when we grow to be more like Him:

  •     Tolerance of personal styles unlike our own
  •     Respect in interactions when other’s ways seem oddly different to you
  •     Respect in your inner thoughts and conclusions about those who are different
  •     Avoiding remarks or “making fun of” others who process life differently
  •     Check yourself and pray before you jump to conclusions about others
  •     Give others the benefit of the doubt as a matter of routine
  •     Overlook minor offenses
  •     Pray for yourself and others in your sphere who are puzzling to you
  •     Be willing to apologize


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