Vive La Difference

opposites_attract__by_RichieuGod puts us into community for a reason: we can’t do life alone.

As someone who likes space and silence and solitude, sometimes this feels a bit tricky.

As a sinner who wants to control her world and is sure she knows best, it’s downright confronting.

But I need them.  Relationships, I mean.  And – gulp – not just on my terms. Not just by appointment. Not just when it’s convenient and comfortable.

Not just people like me – but folks who are different.  Those who love me enough to respect my boundaries and (occasionally) trample over them in love.

It’s not an easy thing, this sharing of life.  On the surface our experiences may be diametrically opposed.

I grew up in a stable home with an extended family. You’ve never met your natural parents and had a very difficult childhood.

I’ve got a history of depression and eating disorders.  You’re naturally positive and body confident.

I’m married.  You’re single.

I grew up in a church context.  You’ve come to faith recently.

I’m shy and awkward round new people.  You’re the life and soul of the party.

Differences can feel threatening.  It’s easier to gravitate towards those who support our sense of self; and a world that to us, is ‘normal’. But difference is a blessing too; a window onto a bigger life, a sharing of experiences that enlarges us and shows us what is real: not just familiar.

But when we’re entering a new country, we need guides to help us understand the terrain.  And perhaps friendships work the same way.

I admire you and want to get to know you better. I’d love to have your confidence – but I’m intimidated by it too. I’m worried you’ll think I’m weird and boring, so I back off before you can reach that conclusion.

You’d also like to get to know me.  But when you try to say hello, I tend to disappear – and I didn’t come to your pool party on Saturday.

All it takes is a conversation.  Or two.  A cup of tea or a phone-call.  The courage to share a little of ourselves: (I hate swimming! But I’d love to come round if I can stay fully clothed…) (‘That makes sense…but you seem so comfortable at church and you fit: I worry I’m too loud and keep saying the wrong thing’).

We have more in common than we think. But we need to explore (and celebrate!) our differences, to discover how much.

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