I’m lounging around on this Sunday morning, after a wonderful potluck dinner evening with friends. It was so amazing to hang out with everyone as being grounded in relationships with these wonderful people is such a blessing! The really cool thing is everyone who was here is connected to Jer and I, but not with each other. So, coming to our event brought a variety of people together that don’t really know each other too well. Yet, we all sat together to share a meal, glass of wine and some amazing conversations, discussion and laughter….and grow.
The relationships you build around you should feel like a blessing to you, relax and enlighten you. You likely have your core group that is you “go to” crew. You might share your deepest secrets or laugh until you cry with them. But there likely is your co-workers, your church or association friends, the single mom down the road, or the elderly gentleman who takes the same bus you do every day. All of these people need companionship just as you do. It doesn’t mean you are besties with all of them, but you can still be friends.
Imagine how boring the world would be if we only intertwined with those who are so much like us that we don’t even recognize what makes us unique anymore. It happens so easily. Growing up my siblings and I went to a school that was started and supported through our Dutch church community. It made sense, as all our parents’ families immigrated from the Netherlands after WW2. They felt a need to establish a set of values and education for their children. I totally get it. However, this meant that I went to school with the same kids from grade 1-12. There was barely a new kid in sight. And even more rare was a child of a different skin colour or ethnicity. We were encircled with so much of the sameness that at times it could feel limiting. A number of kids were bussed in from the country and didn’t really know life past their home, bus, church and school. One gal told me the day after her grade 12 graduation was so scary because she never knew life outside that realm. Her whole identity was wrapped up in it. At least I got to take the city bus and live in a neighbourhood where I connected with other kids. It gave me a small amount diversity, taught me that just because we were raised differently and had varying views, that we could still be friends and not need to dislike each other because we had differences.
I encourage you to do a quick review of who you connect with. Is there security within it? Great! We need our tribe, but do your friends and acquaintances hold mostly the same views you do? Maybe its time to go past that and stretch your boundaries a bit. Start looking where you can connect with a few new people who were raised differently, believe differently or have a different lifestyle than you do. Try and find a friend that challenges you. Makes you think outside the box. Sign yourself up to an art class, a running group or a book club where you don’t know anyone. Push your boundaries a bit and allow yourself to feel uncomfortable and challenged. Talk with people. Ask them questions, and really listen to their answers. Be willing to learn and be a bit vulnerable, because we learn so much from the people we grow with.