by Jayvon Johnson, Staff Writer

We live in a world where we are told that diversity is the new wave. We are to embrace all people of any culture, gender, sexual orientation, race, or ethnicity. We live in a world where we are encouraged to step outside of normal, to step outside of the typical societal observation of how we should do things, and live a life that is our own. “Embrace who you are,” they say. “Be comfortable in your own shoes,” we are told. Yet the moment we begin to walk into who we are, here comes the “societal standard” rubric that dictates so called “right and wrong.”

As a child I never enjoyed doing things like others. I never hoped to gain any acceptance or accolades by following societal norms. We have found ourselves in an educational setting that speaks on the significance of embracing the interweaving of each of us. We all are a thread in the great quilt of this ‘space’ we call our own for the next years of our educational journey. You are a thread, but how important is your significance when you aren’t allowed to bring to the table of sharing your individuality? Each of our threads is unique—we see that through the observance of classroom discussions, hallway conversations, Chapel Days, etc. A thread is defined as such: a long, thin strand of cotton, nylon, or other fibers used in sewing or weaving. The fibers that make up our thread are numerous, from gender roles as shown in our family, the influence of church or lack there of, the dynamics of both personal and interpersonal relationships, and the list goes on.

I must admit that I have been asked since being apart of this space to embrace the differences. Yet the majority has yet to embrace the significance of differences of those associated among us. So, I charge you to take a look at the fibers of this environment. Check yourself at the sewing table before you define someone else’s thread. During this divinity school journey, let us strengthen our fibers and increase the sustainability of our threads. Let’s not cut fibers of others because of our own lack of understanding. I will do as Jesus has done: love in spite of it all. Do not cut fibers, yet be prepared to be challenged and strengthened by those around you. You never know what they can add to the quilt.