If you look at sand, what do you see?
When you step back and look from a distance, sand looks pretty much the same, no? Our imaginations understand that trillions of individual sand particles come together to form a pretty uniform picture. Taken as a whole, it’s pretty much the same color and texture throughout. Sand appears, for the most part, quite generic and unremarkable. It’s really easy to put sand into the same bucket and just call it “sand”.
But what happens if you zoom in and look at individual grains of sand? We may think that since sand appears uniform at the big scale, that the individual grains of sand ought to be meticulously alike. Amazingly, if you study sand under a microscope, you find something that is counterintuitive and quite extraordinary— each grain is a one-of-a-kind. Every grain is different from any other grain, and not just in size or shade of color, but in fundamental structure and beauty. It’s almost as if each grain is incomparable to any other. Yet, when you zoom back out, sand takes on a prosaic dullness and predictability.
How many of us are like those grains of sand? Society tries to fit us all into the same mold. Culture wants to stereotype us all into the same banal existence defined by categories that each of us are destined to bear. Society attempts to pigeonhole us, define us, and typecast us into a category that we have no control over.
From birth, we all develop labels that have been pre-designed for us—labels that we were never meant to carry. And all of us, invariably, march to the beat of this droning drum, like faithful soldiers that have all been cast from the same die. We try to fit into the pattern that society has defined for us so that we can obediently take our position among the endless sea of people that make up human sand.
But did you know that we were not meant for this? Did you know that just like a single grain of sand, you are uniquely and wonderfully made? God’s hand-print overshadows society’s impulse to standardize you and exclusively marks out a never-before-seen expression of creativity outlined by your you-ness. There is no other creature quite like you—not by a long-shot. You are meant to be matchless, uncommon, and unusual. And perhaps even harder for us to grasp is the fact that, “so is our neighbor.” Sometimes we can mindlessly join the masses and stereotype everyone else around us into neatly defined buckets of collectiveness. We tend to reduce another person to “one of those people.” We tend to, well, make everyone into the same grain of sand.
To stop doing this to ourselves, and to others, we have to take the time to zoom in. We would never know that each sand particle was unique unless we took the time to zoom in and study each grain. To get to know ourselves and others, we have to take our eyes, hearts, and attention off of the larger worldview and to pay attention to the little things happening all around us. The things that make us uniquely and individually “us.” And when we position our attention relationally instead of culturally, that sterilized, fuzzy image of each person that we have formed through the lens of the social order will begin come into focus, and we will start to see that we are all, indeed, very special people on an individual level.
We need to resist with all of our might the human tendency to put people into buckets. Although sand was meant to be carried around in a bucket, humans were not. Let us love each person like they are unique, the same way that we believe that we are unique. This is how we “love” people as Christ taught us. Christ saw each person as truly special and took the time to recognize their uniqueness. He created each person as if He was starting from scratch. And just like He gave the gazillions of stars individual names, He gives each one of us a one-of-a-kind name that no one else shares.
Peace and love to everyone,
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