Uniqueness fascinates me.
My uncle – probably one of the most unique persons I’ve ever met (to put it kindly) – always encouraged me to march to the beat of my own drummer (and to fire the drummer if he tried to change my beat). I knew I was different and that I came from a family of quite different folks.
THEY never did appreciate my approach. THEY definitely didn’t approve.
But, the beat went on and I marched away.
The years have continued to grow my appreciation of uniqueness. Those same years have also taught me that even unique journeys and unique people usually have multiple qualities in common. In our uniqueness, we can find oneness.
I began to invest in engagements with differently unique people with the intentional attempt to find the oneness. This combination of unique view and oneness pursuit set a foundation for growing relationships – sometimes in unusual places.
The last couple of years have challenged my view, challenged my visions, and basically challenged my sanity (if one was to argue that sanity ever played a part).
THEY began to demand conformity with a bolder and louder voice. THEY declared uniqueness – outside of what they ordained to be okay uniqueness – was unacceptable and even offensive. THEY ruled I was wrong.
In other words, THEY built a box, called it unique, and demanded everyone conform to the parameters set or be branded. Even my drummer got upset and the restrictions and limitations.
Luke 11:17 hit me from a different direction when I read it. The Scripture talks about a house divided and reminded me of the importance of oneness. We have to be actively invested in engaging in oneness, but not the limited conformity THEY demand.
The Truth of Oneness
My husband and I were to attend counseling sessions before we were married. We were fired after the second session. The counselor explained that we weren’t willing to admit the truth and we were doomed to fail as a couple.
It all started when he asked me what I wanted to change in my soon-to-be spouse. “Nothing,” I explained. “I accept him where he is. If I changed him then he wouldn’t be him.”
The counselor didn’t appreciate my answer.
He then asked my soon-to-be spouse the same questions. “Nothing,” was the same response. “I love her. Even the parts I don’t like about her are part of the whole I love.” My husband has always had a way with words.
Instead of applauding us for having the right expectations – that we can’t change others and that it’s not our job to change others – he demanded we make a list of all the things we deemed wrong about the other. Acceptance was not an option.
Oneness doesn’t try to change. Oneness doesn’t make lists of wrongs. Oneness looks for the commonality, the points of alignment, and the places of agreement.
Paul provided one of the best examples of oneness pursuit. “I aim to be all things to all people,” Paul wrote. It wasn’t that Paul was being unauthentic around people, instead, he was looking for places of alignment and focusing on those areas.
Oneness vs Conformity
“Do not conform to this world.” Scripture warns about conformity with the world while encouraging oneness with others. The key to finding the balance is to understand the differences.
- Conformity gives others control because it requires compliance with rules, standards, and regulations set by others. When you conform to the world, you are moving to reflect the manners of the world. THEY love it when you conform to the rules THEY set.
- Oneness leaves you in control because it is a quality, not a requirement.
- Conformity follows the standards expected by a group or society – and will change at the whims of the ones who created those standards.
- Oneness reveals harmony and accord (not the vehicle, but the attitude).
- Conformity is about fitting in.
- Oneness is about bringing others in.
You can’t be in conformity and in oneness because, by default, conformity ostracizes the uniqueness of those who don’t adhere to the conformity.
I have never been a good conformist. Maybe it was the encouragement of uniqueness from an early age, but I have always had a tendency to rebel against conformity. It’s left me ostracized, criticized, and kicked out of counseling on more than one occasion. At times, the burden became too much to bear and I gave in. Fortunately, I have enough unique people around me to help me find my way out of my conformist moments.
Are you conforming? Or are you invested in oneness?
The more you understand your uniqueness, the bolder you become in embracing oneness. You don’t want to conform because you don’t want to give up your uniqueness, so you don’t want others to have to conform.
Know you and then begin looking for those points of alignment so you can grow up relationships with other unique people that build relationships of oneness.