You’ve probably heard this before about snow, but it still blows my mind. Every single snowflake is unique. As I sit here by the window watching billions of little flakes fall from the sky, I’m reminded about individuality. I’m also reminded, however, about what happens when you put a group of unique individuals together. Each one of these snowflakes is beautiful in its own way. Each snowflake has significance, as I was reminded of by my kids’ joy the first time they saw the first flake of the season float down. And yet, when these individual snowflakes are combined, when they join together on trees, rooftops, and the ground, the beauty and significance is magnified.

My mind wanders to the Sixers game last night. It wanders to Sixers Twitter and our internal chats and reactions within The Painted Lines. The Philadelphia 76ers dropped another disappointing game last night, and it feels as though nobody knows who to blame. Someone has to be to blame, right?

Blizzard of Blame

The fact of the matter is that the Sixers are made up of a bunch of snowflakes. And no, I don’t mean “snowflakes” in the way that Boomers refer to Millennials in today’s society. I mean that the Sixers are a group of unique, beautiful, and significant individuals. The individual talent of Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, Al Horford, and Joel Embiid is, quite frankly, unmatched in the NBA.

Yet, through the first month of the season, those beautiful individual snowflakes haven’t combined to form the gorgeous landscape I see as I stare out the window at the snow-topped trees with snow-capped Rocky Mountains in the distance. It hasn’t worked together beautifully. There’s enough talent there for the end product to be a beautiful picture. However, right now, it feels more like I’m looking at these individual snowflakes combining to cause chaos on the roads.

The argument could be made that it’s the job of the head coach to bring those parts together. I’m not here to debunk that nor to defend that. I’m not here because I’ve got the answers. There are as many theoretical “fixes” to the problem with the Sixers as there are individual snowflakes in the 15 inches of snow on the ground outside.

You can blame Ben. Your neighbor can blame JoJo. Your coworker can blame Brown. But ultimately, the Sixers are to blame. They – the unit, the group, the team – haven’t been good enough yet. Basketball is a team game. This team game will only look good when it’s played by a team, not a group of individuals. If and when these snowflakes form together, the result has the potential to be breath-taking.

Snowflake Society

Frankly, though, my mind stayed on the problems with 76ers for a very short time. As I was sitting here, I got a text from JC here at The Painted Lines informing me that he submitted an article for review. The article was about a tragic incident in the UFC family in which the step-daughter of a UFC fighter appears to have been brutally murdered. It was a snap back to reality. The problem with the 76ers is an extremely small microcosm of significantly larger societal problems.

What do theft, murder, gossip, slander, racism, and basically every other hate-filled action have in common? Self-centeredness. In other words, the ideology that I matter more than the person next to me. I am a beautiful, unique snowflake – so I matter and need to do what makes me the happiest to show off my personal significance. Every other snowflake be damned.

However, when the mindset is that of working together for the greater good of the society, regardless of what that means for me as an individual, we all benefit. I can see it in every area of my life. Whether it’s sports, business, religion, or government, when the greater good is the focus, the world is a better place.

StrawSnowman Example

This isn’t a new concept. If you’ve read pretty much any of my work in the past, you know that my worldview is largely shaped by my Christian faith. The apostle Paul, in one of his letters in the New Testament, applies this concept to the church. He says the following in Romans 12 (emphasis added by me).

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same functionso we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”

In other words, Paul is comparing the church to a human body. A hand has a different function than the foot which has a different function than the nose which has a different function than the ear. Diversity is beautiful – when seen in view of the whole. The problem occurs when someone views their function, their individuality, as more important than someone else’s.

For the church to be successful, for the human body to work correctly, for society to function properly, we have to recognize our individualism and diversity. But we have to recognize it in light of its role in our collective oneness. When we do that, it will be a beautiful collection of snowflakes coming together to form the most massive snowman we can possibly imagine.

Lines in the Snow

Finally, I’ll end with this. One of the things I most appreciate about being here at The Painted Lines is its desire to live out exactly this concept. Our desire is to be a platform for individual snowflakes to sparkle – but with the recognition that doing that together as a team provides the greatest impact. Some people have the role of beat reporter for TPL. Others have found their niche in writing thought-provoking articles. Certain individuals love to share their thoughts via podcasts. Still others work behind the scenes editing or managing the site.

When one of our members doesn’t perform his function, the whole body suffers. However, when we are all working hard to do our individual functions well, with the success of the whole body in mind, we continue to thrive. This has been shown in how quickly TPL has grown and the impact it has had in such a short time. It also provides protection and strength against outside attacks.

Sadly, not everyone understands this concept of unity yet and seem to exist for the sole purpose of causing division. And when you’re an individual on your own, it’s hard to to survive that. Consider the singular snowflake. The moment someone touches it, it melts and is destroyed. But when it is part of the whole, the snow can withstand people walking all over it.

Is The Painted Lines perfect? Far from it. We’re comprised of beautiful but absolutely flawed individuals. But as long as we continue to stick together, there’s no limit to the snowy masterpiece that can be created. This is true at TPL. It’s true in the church. It’s true for the Sixers. And it’s true for snow. Consider how it can be true in your life too.