‘The Beauty of ‘Us’

Terry Walton


I Was Thinking…

I’ve never been one for labels.  I think they are dangerous because in each label there is an assumption that your understanding and my meaning are equal.  For example, I may say that I’m conservative.  But what does that word mean?  You may think I mean theologically conservative when I mean fiscally or socially conservative.  The context of the conversation and the understanding of words are critical for ‘label’ understanding.

Several decades ago in church circles there were two words that were considered to be polar opposites.  Those words were ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’.  Somewhere along the way we have changed those two words.  Now we use the words ‘progressive’ and ‘traditionalist’.  When I was in seminary I was in a car pool of students where one of us was considered to have an ‘evangelical’ leaning and the other was considered to have a ‘social gospel’ focus.  Is it possible to be both?  I hear conversations that sound as if being both is ‘impossible’ and ‘wishy washy’.  I wonder are ‘labels’ to be as black and white as we seem to make them?

In our family Sharon is the ‘financial nerd’ while I am the ‘financial free spirit’ (Love that Dave Ramsey).  Neither is good and neither is bad.  One without the other is dangerous.  Together we keep our family finances in relatively good order.  Is there friction?  Yes, at times there is friction.  However, that friction brings about growth and understanding that has over these almost 43 years of marriage deepened a relationship that flourishes.  Are we perfect?  Absolutely not!  Are we moving on to perfection?  That is our goal…both in soul and in the relationship between two souls.

The saying ‘birds of a feather flock together’ is cute and has some truth.  But if ‘birds of feather’ don’t allow for other feathered birds, then my contention is that that bird kingdom is stuck in a spot that is boring; lacking in adventure and unhealthy.

In 1984 I began participating in a clergy accountability group that continues to this day.  The six of us are all over the map with regards to theology, interests, politics, backgrounds, giftedness, life-experience, ministry-experience, opinions, dreams, and the list could go on.  The beauty of ‘us’ is found in our differences not so much in our similarities.  I thank God that some birds of ‘different’ feathers flocked together.  It has been one of the richest experiences of my life.

We all have ‘lines in the sand’ that we proclaim we will not cross.  ‘Lines’ that portray what we believe and we will not be moved from that spot.  I have found that every time I’ve drawn a line in the sand that just on the other side of that line can be found real beauty…if I’m willing to consider peering over the line.

Let’s be careful with labels.  What you use as a label may be completely different than what I understand you to mean…and vice versa.  And by the way just so you know…I’m a‘Christmethovangelicaliberprogresstranditionconservsociorfreespirit’.  (I just blew ‘spell check’s’ mind)

Perhaps the most common word in heaven is going to be “Oh!”

Let’s soar together…

 Always Thinking…


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