If you have ever shopped for a car or a home (or hey, even a new jacket), more likely than not you have come up with a list of properties to look for. Safety, cost value, reliability, comfort, appearance…these might all be factors. Decisions or characterizations, whether with regards to big or small items, usually involve identifying and weighing various elements. Unfortunately, sometimes we tend to carry that attitude over to relationships. Whether with peers or pupils, we too easily reduce God’s precious image-bearers to categories and classifications.
We might “shop” for an ideal friend or mate based on a laundry list of things we think they ought to have. Sadly, we may also look at a student and see individual traits rather than a whole person. We might look at a child and see only ADHD or autism or emotional frustrations. Or we might see talents and treasures and place inordinate value on those positive attributes.
However, God does not fashion people out of spare parts or individual traits. We are souls, entire beings created by God with love and care.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well. -Psalm 139:13-14
Do we have unique characteristics and features? Of course! And each person has strengths and weaknesses that are naturally given by God. Yet there is more to us than just our qualities. That is the mystery and the wonder of how we are fashioned. With friends, significant others, or even leaders and co-workers, we naturally gravitate to certain people. Obviously, there are cases where it is inappropriate to have “favorites,” since God calls on us to love others; but we still might have preferences and inclinations.
At the core, we are all made in His image (Genesis 1:27). Our tendencies and interests are shaped by environment, upbringing, experiences, and a host of other factors. But despite those various elements, we are HIS creation, His people. When we look at others, it can be tough to sift through layers of challenge or to maintain true patience and love throughout difficult situations. But it helps to remember that God is at the center of all interactions and relationships. He is the giver of patience. And if we look first to Him, we will find Him…and what other things we might seek.
But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. -Deuteronomy 4:29