How can we be unified when we are so different?

June 30, 2017

I am so excited to feature my good friend, Chelsey, who has been an excellent example to me of strength and unity in her marriage, even in the midst of hard times.  I love talking with her about faith, because she always motivates me to be a little less flashy and ever more thoughtful, honest and hopeful in my discipleship.  Her words on unity seem so necessary in a world that is rife with division and separation.  It is my hope that we will allow our differences to strengthen, rather than threaten, the vitality of our everyday interactions, perhaps most pointedly in our homes.

God created all things, and He created all things to be different.  Our differences can make it challenging to be unified in our marriages, families, churches and communities, but this is part of God’s plan.  Despite our differences, we can still be kind, forgiving, humble, and patient – we can be united.  A few years ago, this principal saved and strengthened my marriage.

For many years, I believed that being married meant we should act and think alike.  This caused several arguments throughout our marriage.  But this idea – having to be the same and think the same – created a real crisis between my husband and I that came to a head five years ago.

The events leading up to this crisis began several years earlier.  My husband was a professional firefighter/paramedic when we decided that he needed to go back to school, get his undergraduate degree and enroll in a graduate program to become a dentist.  At the time, we owned a home, had two children, and along with his position at the fire department, I had a teaching position at a local high school.   We lived in a place we loved surrounded by friends who loved us too.  However, we both felt strongly that the career change was something that not only was good for us, but was something that Heavenly Father wanted us to do.  It was a HUGE leap of faith for us to give up this life in pursuit of another.  United, we moved forward.

As planned, my husband was accepted and attended dental school two short years later.  The dental school years, while full of small challenges, were nothing compared to what we experienced upon entering the professional world.  In four short years, our family moved seven times.  After failed associateships time and time again, my husband felt defeated and unable to care and provide for our family.  The problem was magnified when, after purchasing our dental practice, we neared bankruptcy, forcing me to enter the workforce in his office and leaving five children to take care of each other at home.  This is not what we had imagined for our family.

My husband reacted to this trial very differently than I did.  While I had made the decision to move forward despite the difficulty, he felt hurt and distanced from a loving Heavenly Father.  I could not accept his anger and felt like his reaction should be just as faithful as mine.  Seeing his method of coping as “unrighteous” and my method of coping as “righteous,” I constantly picked apart what I thought he was doing wrong and expected him to be exactly like me.  This created an atmosphere of contention, almost destroying our marriage.  The unity that we felt going ahead with the career change was now riddled with doubt, fear and blame.

I believed the problem was my husband’s until one night, in prayer, Heavenly Father gently corrected me.  As an answer to this prayer, I was clearly instructed to let my husband be.  My job was to love, understand and support him.  Heavenly Father reassured me that my husband was His child and He loved him even more than I loved him.  It was at that time that I let go of my need to be right, began loving unconditionally, and sought instead for an understanding of what he was going through.  This simple answer to my prayer has been the most powerful tool I’ve been given to unify our marriage.

Unity comes when we see the hearts of other people, and understand their true intent.  Unity does not require for us all to be the same, think the same, or look the same.  In fact, to truly be strong in unity we need the differences of others to enrich the one.  This idea that we have to be the same created the opposite of unity in my marriage.  It created enmity.

I’m sure this is what Paul was trying to teach the church in 1 Corinthians 12.  He says that in the church there are diverse gifts and that when used together the different gifts make the whole church stronger.  To help us further understand, he draws an analogy to the human body.  He reasons, “For the body is not one member but many.  . . . If the whole body were an eye where were the hearing?  If the whole body were hearing, where were the smelling” (verses 14, 17).  Paul understood the need for each member to be different, and recognized that although we are different we can still accomplish the same purpose if we are united together.

We can apply this teaching to our relationships in church, our community and in our families.  We do not have to worship the same, think the same, or act the same.  In my marriage, we each have our own strengths and our own weaknesses.  I believe this is the way God intends it to be.  Together, for our children, for others and for ourselves, we make a much stronger whole accepting other’s differences and loving one another as we are.  We can all be different and still be united.  We are all God’s children.

Chelsey is an inspired mother of four energetic and handsome boys and a beautiful and strong daughter.  Her husband fills her life full of adventures.  At times you may find her complaining when her husband allows all the children to come into their room late at night and she is tired, but Chelsey’s happiest moments occur in these times when the whole family is there chatting carelessly and playing steam roller together.  You can find out more about Chelsey, her family and her testimony of the Savior at her blog www.motobees.blogspot.com.

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5 Comments

  • Reply Stephanie July 2, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    This story rang so true and close to home for me. Thank you for sharing your experience and what you’ve learned through it.

    • Reply Chelsey July 4, 2017 at 12:01 pm

      Stephanie,
      I’m glad it was something that you could relate to. Thank you for your comment.

  • Reply Lorianne Updike Toler July 4, 2017 at 6:28 am

    So what happened to your marriage, your husband’s faith, and your dental practice??

    • Reply Chelsey July 4, 2017 at 12:08 pm

      19 years and strong for the marriage. My husband’s faith, while changed, is still ever present and the dental practice more than provides for our family.

  • Reply Ashley Ziegler July 14, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    This line is PERFECT: “Seeing his method of coping as “unrighteous” and my method of coping as “righteous,”

    Great post!!

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