Originally published Thursday, 14 February 2013.
This blog post first appeared over at www.allisonvesterfelt.com - you can read more about Allison there!
I’m also guest posting for Alece Ronzino over at Grit and Glory today about what happens when god doesn’t give you what you ask for. Don’t forget to check out that post as well!
Most of you know I just moved.
It wasn’t just just around the corner kind of move. It was an across-the-country kind of move. And it wasn’t for the first time in awhile, but for the third time in one year. If you couldn’t tell by my use of italics, the whole thing has been a little bit overwhelming.
One of the most difficult things about moving so much is feeling like you don’t have friends.
If you’ve moved a bunch, I’m sure you can relate. It isn’t that you have no friends. There are plenty of people around, and you are friends with them in a surface-deep way. But the long-standing friendships that used to sustain you and reassure you you are known and loved are so far away.
And it’s not easy to start and build new friendships that go as deep as the old ones.
I’ve thought to myself on so many occasions: “I just want like-minded friends.”
Like minded people are awesome. They make us feel good about ourselves because they’re just like us. They give us this unspoken reassurance that it’s okay to be who we are.
I’ve also been thinking lately that my search for “like-minded” friends might be a little bit unhealthy.
I think it might be keeping me stuck.
A few weeks ago I was on the treadmill and caught part of The View. In the past I haven’t watched the show because it tended to raise my blood pressure, all the arguing and sharing (loudly) their differences of opinion. But that day, on the treadmill, I had a new thought. It went something like this: I want friends like that.
I want friends who will disagree with me — vehemently — and still stick around to be my friend.
I want friends who think differently than I do, so I don’t get stuck in my same old ruts.
I want friends who challenge me to think in new ways, or about new ideas.
Like minded people are great, but if all my friends are like-minded I think I’m missing out on something important.
The problem with “like-minded” friends is they don’t require us to think critically about our lives, or to engage conflict in a healthy way. In order to be friends with people who are different than me I have to listen, to learn how to avoid fighting without being pushed around by what everyone else thinks.
Being around people who are different teaches me to have good boundaries.
All of that is much easier said than done, right?
If I’m only friends with people who are exactly like me — oh, heaven help me when life forces me to be in relationship with people who are different. When I have to work with someone or do ministry with someone or just ride the bus with someone who challenges me, argues with me, pushes back on things I say, or simply has different values.
I’m sunk if I haven’t learned to set healthy boundaries in safe, loving friendships with people who are different.
And come to think of it, people are never as “like minded” as we think they are. In fact sometimes I wonder if this term is just a something we’ve invented to make ourselves feel good. Aren’t we alldifferent from one another? Aren’t there are as many differences of opinion as there are humans on this planet?
If I think my friends are totally “like minded”…
I have to wonder how deep and authentic those friendships really are.
Maybe it would be good for me to have some friends who aren’t like-minded, and to admit that many of my friendships are probably already that way.
What do you think? Are your friends like-minded? To reply, click HERE.