I’m a big fan of The Amazing Race (TAR).
For years, I talked about being a contestant on that show. My husband and I considered auditioning together. He’d do all the challenges that involved putting your head under water, and I would do the word-related challenges. Together, we’d travel ’round the world—backpacks bobbing along behind us—and we’d share the adventure of a lifetime. We would work out, religiously, in the months leading up to the taping of the show, and we’d come up with some witty name for our partnership. We wondered how the producers would label us. Would they focus on the fact we’ve been married nearly thirty years? Would we be dubbed the Midwestern transplants? Would they choose to call us ministers? And, how much say would we have in the matter?
This made us think about editing. I tried to imagine what would happen if the producers, working in conjunction with the show’s editors, chose to only show the very worst in H and me. I’d come across as whiny and stubborn. Bossy, even. One of the cameras might catch me rolling my eyes behind H’s back as we hunkered down and belly crawled through a field of llama manure. Or, in my complete and all-consuming exhaustion, they might film me saying something utterly ridiculous and embarrassing; something that reveals my real self—the one I try to hide in the day-to-day.
Then one day, while I was still dreaming about auditioning for TAR, my son got a job working on a different show, one that was somehow connected to The Amazing Race, and we all had to agree we wouldn’t try to be on any shows connected with TAR. Including TAR. Bummer.
I thought about all of this while watching a recent episode of TAR. It was getting down to the wire, and emotions between the teams were running high. Everyone was waving their true colors for all the world to see and one of the racers on one particular team sat down in front of the cameras for one of those interviews they do—sort of to help give context and background (and drama!) for what’s going on. The two racers were talking about their opponents, and one of these two said of the other team, “They’re NLU.”
“NLU?” the teammate asked.
“Yeah. Not like us.”
Yikes! I may have said out loud to the television.
Then, in my head, I started doing the whole pharisee thing. Remember that story? The one where the pharisee and the tax collector went to pray and the pharisee got all high and mighty, saying, “Thank you, God, for not making me like him,” (meaning, of course, like the tax collector). I sat there on my couch, shaking my head at that TAR contestant, chastising her for her unacceptable vileness. I was on a roll, I tell you, and it was not pretty. Not like us? I was saying to the screen. What do you mean? Where do you get off, deciding who’s worthy and who’s not? Not only are you sounding discriminatory, but you’ve actually given your selectivism an acronym! Geez, I thought. I’m so glad I am not like you.
Yep. I was acting just like that pharisee.
Now, let me pause here and let you know, I’d much rather be writing about something different. I am not proud to admit to you my propensity toward these things. I so desire to have reached the end of this journey, received my certificate, and walked across the finish line. But that’s just it. This is a journey, with pit stops and setbacks along the way, right there on the same path as the victories and shining moments.
Just because I talk about breaking down all the walls we’ve built up to keep one another at a distance doesn’t mean I’ve got it figured out. As far as I can tell, God doesn’t really operate that way. He doesn’t wait for us to get it right before he signs us up to be part of the solution. He seems to enjoy the process better that way. And, it’s quite possible, getting us involved before we’ve figured it out is one of the best ways for real transformation to take place, and to take hold for the long term. (It’s probably also a good strategy for keeping us from taking all the credit when it does get figured out).
My tendency to NLU you is not news to me. It’s just that, sometimes, I get comfortable and I need reminding, and sometimes God uses a craftily edited (non)reality show to bring to my attention all the ways I’ve acronym-ized the world, and the beautiful people God put in it.
Well, thank God for grace. First, from Jesus and then, from people just like us, and (especially) from people not at all like us.
Are you an acronym-izer? Do you tend to gravitate toward people who look like you, think like you, believe like you, vote like you? You are not alone. What is one thing you can do today to begin to tear down the walls between you and people who may not be like you?
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
First let me say that I am so glad that God allowed me to “JTT” (Join the team) before I had it all figured out! Whatever steps I make in this life…to God be the glory. God has given me the opportunity to partner with a grass roots Christian school beginning in Pakistan. When I work with the people there, though we are one in Christ, I see how different their culture is than ours. I find myself making hasty judgments sometimes, but then God gets me to step back and focus on our common goal. Truly, I am amazed at how some people in this world who have absolutely nothing when it comes to material possessions, possess something that few people in the US have – a true attitude of gratitude for the love of Christ. That love IS their all in all. When we break down walls we can truly learn more about ourselves and about God’s love. Thanks so much for an enlightening and thought provoking post!
There was a phone call yesterday I didn’t want to make, several actually, and the reason was NLU. I found my honesty and spoke from that place. Relationships are so hard for me but the connection I experienced through those conversations was worth it. Great piece Deidra!
Ro elliott says
Oh… I wasted tooooo many years walled off because I viewed life through the NLU lens….so thankful for Gods mercy and grace…He never tires of setting us free…no matter how slow we are…not that I have fully arrived….but I love this new land I am walking in…so much to learn from others who are NLU. Thanks Deidra….you always point us toward growth!! N
As always, you speak truth that gets me in my gut! I do gravitate to people like me, BUT I am working on it and have made GREAT strides in the past few years. I still have a long way to go. I try to remind myself that Jesus didn’t stick with people just like him. There were prostitutes, tax collectors and others…thankfully, he welcomed them and me to join him on the journey. Great post, Deidra!
I made a snap judgment upon meeting our neighbors across the street that they were NLU, mostly because the dad told us he lives to game. Gaming frightens me when it comes to raising children, so I pretty much walled off any chance for community between our families. Since then, praise God, the weather has gotten nice, and all of our children have been outside, playing together. These neighbor children are beautiful, polite, kind, naughty, rowdy, active, fun kids, JUST LIKE OURS. Thank you for this post and the reminder to welcome and embrace (and not fear!) those NLU!
Thank you for this timely word. God just put “The Pressure’s Off” book by Larry Crabb into my hands. Talk about on-going “heart surgery”….very humbling but also feeling very loved that God is always in process of shaping us to be more like His son! Thankful for grace and mercy in abundance. Drawing closer to God is always the key to enjoying the journey!
Leanna Williams says
Wow! You hit the nail on the head. Excellent points. I have always been a “hider”. “Play the game and don’t let anyone see you cry”. I’ll bet you can guess that that hasn’t turned out too well for me. But God has done so much healing in my life and in my heart. And God is showing me that the very walls that I built to protect me were in fact hurting me. And so slowly but surely I have been tearing the walls down brick by brick. And I am, as the Skin Horse says in “The Velveteen Rabbit”…real. With all my fur rubbed off and my eyes popped out…real. And I found a whole lot of women who long
To do the same. And my courage gives them courage…and we are “doing” life together.
Marina Bromley says
Great post Deidra!
I’ve yet to meet anyone JUST like me, so I suppose everyone is NLU (which was a new one to me!). Even my hubby of 30+ isn’t a thing like me!!
I don’t know that I know anything to do to tear down walls, besides march around them and shout!!
I like to think that there are no walls most of the time… but then life slaps me upside the head and I’m reminded that mine is more like a chain-linked fence… you might not see it at first… but it’s there. Guess I’ll keep marching and shouting prayers and praises!!
Chandra Hadfield says
Oh, this was so good. You’ve written things that I’ve been dealing with over and over for years. I keep thinking I get to the place where “I’m all there”, and then I realize I’m only one step better than I was a year ago. I love this journey and process that God takes us through to be more like Him.
I met my neighbor this morning at the bus stop. For years, I’ve avoided her because her family was NLU, but it turns out, we have a lot more in common than I ever imagined. I love how God backs up those lessons with words from the (in)Courage team.
This encounter and these words encourage me to step out and meet more neighbors.
Yeah, I tend to hand around people like me as well.
No, too scary to hang out with people who are not like me.
Tear down the walls.
No, build up more.
Oh goodness, *THIS*.
My entire family is NLU (example: I feel subversive for listening to NPR programs). Often our differences end up with my either 1) hiding how I think/feel or 2) being ostracized from the family because I’m “in sin” for thinking/feeling differently. Of course, all of that to say *I do the EXACT.SAME.THING*. I find myself thinking “thank goodness I don’t think like *they* do”…
I have no clue how to deal with it, how to grow past it, especially since these people are so close to me and therefore can very easily wound me. How the heck can I not think like that when some of the things they believe/live are truly hurtful?
Lisa Petrarca says
First, let me say you are preaching to the choir! Lol! I always have to have a “Jesus check-up” in this area. I need to sit at His feet daily and ask Him to take my too often Pharisee attitude away and give me more of His unconditional, loving grace towards those who are different than me. When I try in my own ability and think I’m doing great, all of a sudden I get a Holy Spirit moment of truth, “YOU are no one to judge. Only by the grace of God, the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ’ sacrifice, you have been changed and are being shaped into HIS likeness. Everyone is on a journey and your job is not to judge but shine the light of Christ in you by being an unconditional lover like Him.” Thank you for this reminder first thing in the morning!
Kris camealy says
I’m totally guilty of being someone who has steered away from people who are NlM (not like me), but in the last couple of years, thanks to a few brave friends (Ahem, Deidra, cough*) and Gods work in my heart, I am stepping way out of my comfort zone. I’m learning to listen, to repent, and to love. It’s a journey full of surprises and paved with grace.
Loved this. So much.
Lori Harris says
I’m quite guilty.
But I like to think I’m not.
I’m in a season of learning and leaping into the uncomfortable and you know what? I’m pretty darn ugly on the inside.
Much to think about…
As always my friend such a timely post!! I’ve been furious, yes FURIOUS, by the attitudes of some who only “socialize” with others like them. Fortunately I have kept my mouth shut, but there have been moments, close moments that I have wanted to say how unchristian they are….then I read this post and I realize, sadly, how I can have a tendency toward a NLU attitude too…
Oh Jesus…so thankful for Your Grace and Your willingness to continue working in my heart…
Kim Hyland says
One thing to tear down walls? How about four: “Listen, open your ears, harness your desire to speak, and don’t get worked up into a rage so easily, my brothers and sisters. Human anger is a futile exercise that will never produce God’s kind of justice in this world.” ~James 1:19-20 (The Voice)
It’s crazy how easy it is to fall into the trap of pharisaical judgment of pharisees! Deidra, thank you for this humble reminder to break down walls and be a bridge builder.
Diana Trautwein says
You make me smile. And think. You just do. It’s a gift. Thank you. And, sadly, my circles are pretty homogenous, I’d guess. A little spike of relief here and there, but pretty much similar. Sigh.
This post hit the nail on the head for me. I do have the tendency for gravitating to people who are similar to me. I have been working on getting at that zone, and it looks like I need to still practice.
Beth WIlliams says
You are right on with this post! We tend to gravitate toward people jlu (just like us). For me I try to pray for others. When I get that Pharisee feeling then I stop and pray for others.
Bev hit the nail square on the head. In the US we tend to focus on the individual,–how they look, act, treat us, etc. and almost forget about God’s love for us. We need to be less more tolerant and loving like Jesus!
This is a great post and very encouraging. In this season of my life God has me intentionally connecting and building friendships with people that are SYD (similar yet different), similar enough for an attraction but so very different in how we see the world and approach life.
Each of us has a different context for how we see the world and how we approach life. I have to remember that fact and practice being open to seeing through different eyes. After all we are each unique and although we may think others are JLU (just like us) it’s more likely that we are varying degrees of SYD…
Thank you . I really needed this. I am going to start being more like Jesus and show love to everyone I know and everyone I meet.