Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Are Your Friends Different?


Hopefully your friends are not of the lego variety, but are they different?  When I ask if they are different, I am not necessarily asking if they are strange although they might be.  I am asking if your friends are different than you.  I was just thinking today how we so often want our friends to be like us when what we really need is someone different than us.  Yes, there needs to be a connection but that can come even if you are different ages, different races, different views on life, or you have a different marital status.  

My college roommate was different than me.  I can still remember her dad chuckling as he left his yearbook editor daughter who didn't like to exercise with a roommate who was a math major and a member of the cross country team.  She liked to stay up late.  I liked to get up early.  She helped me learn to process life and didn't care if I was one of the last runners to finish the race.  We both loved and still love Jesus.  To this day we are friends and have found much in common while still being who God made us to be. 

My first friend at my first teaching job in Texas was different than me.  She was a single mom, recently divorced,  who was older than me.  We became friends when I sat in the empty seat beside her at orientation.  Our friendship helped us survive our first few years at that school.  Long bike rides and limeades helped bond us as we discussed our lives.  I learned more about divorce and how rough it is for a single mom.  I heard her story of faith. She taught me how to quilt and fed me hot Mexican food that so hot it made me cry.   She modeled for me good parenting even when times were tough.

The list could go on and on.  Living overseas has increased that number.  I have friends from Scotland, Switzerland, Central Asia, and Argentina to name a few.  They have made me question why I think about things the way I do.  They have shown me the best and worst of their cultures as I am sure I have shown them the best and worst of mine.  Being their friends has helped me see the world different and hopefully more how God would see the world.  We brought to the table not only our different culture but our different giftings.  Some of us were teachers others leaders.  Some of us were outgoing while others of us where more introverted.  Each of us had a place and a calling as long as we didn't get distracted because we weren't doing it like someone else.   

In Romans 12, it talks about the body of Christ and how each part is important and needed by the other parts.  I have read this many times but this Friday as we listened to the Pastor's sermon I hung on these words that I jotted in my notes.
"The more alike we are -the less a body we are.  We are being less of a church.  It is harder to be around people who are different than you.  When we group with only those who are like us, we miss out.  There needs to be room in our groups for those who are different." (our pastor in Central Asia)
 The more alike we are-the less a body we are.  The body is only healthy when each part is doing its part-the part God has called us to do.  The great thing is that we each have something to offer.  Everyone has their quirks but we also each have our gifts. It is when we don't let those quirks get in that way that we are truly able to love one another.  It is when we truly love one another that we best show the world who Jesus is.

What does that mean here in this new city and new season?  New makes me want to gravitate to those that are like me-those who might understand me better.  I forget that sometimes those who are different see me more clearly.  I forget that growth comes in reaching out to those who are different from me.  God often uses me best when I am slightly outside my comfort zone. 

My prayer is that on this team and in this season, I will faithfully love and serve those God has put me with.  I pray that God will give me some local friends so I can learn about this new place, their views on life, and how I can best serve them.  I pray that I will not shy away from different.

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