Best friends IV

Togetherness is important, but difference is also a crucial part of healthy relationships.

I am a different person from you. You are not the same person as me. Even the person I am closest to – say, my husband or my mother or father. They are different from me.

I love quilting and making my own clothes. My mother thinks sewing is too hard and it gives her a headache. She trained as an infants teacher. I couldn’t think of anything worse than spending hours per day in a room full of little children. She’s neat. I’m kind of messy.

My husband and I are quite different. He likes cricket. I can’t see the point. I love going for walks. He’d rather stay home. I go to bed early with a book. He stays up late and watches sci fi movies.

Sometimes these differences cause friction. Why can’t everyone be more like me? It would make life so much easier!

Being different from other people is a problem that all MKs come up against. “We can’t relate to them. They can’t relate to us. We have nothing in common.” Feeling like a fish out of water is a really horrible feeling.

Probably everyone has this problem too. In fact, I'm sure they do. Where else does racism come from? And tight little sub-cultures? Even cliques at school are based on this feeling.

What if we could turn around the thinking about it though? Rather than seeing difference as something that alienates us, we could see it as proof of God’s richness and diversity.

Yes, it’s easier to be good friends with people who are like us. But there is so much to be gained from people who are not like us in personality, background, interests and all areas of life.

Let’s see difference as a benefit – a growth, a stretching. Let’s not see it as something to avoid or run away from.

This is hard when you’re a teenager. The big thing of the teenage years is that everyone has to be the same as everyone else. But cheerfully, it gets easier as time goes on.

When people find out where I’m from, they now think it’s interesting. When I was a teenager, they often found it weird. And I’m at the point where I can find many interesting things in people who have had different experiences from me.

We went out to dinner last week with a family who have been in this area forever. Both people had great-grandparents who had lived in the Southern Highlands. They were truly local.

As a 16 year old I probably would have scoffed at that. “How staid, how smallminded, how boring, how normal!” But now I can see that they have a richness of community and fellowship that I can’t really understand. They have a way in for the gospel amongst the other locals, who might not take newcomers seriously. I think their experience is really interesting and I love to find out about it.

Everyone out there has a different story to tell. Let's get out there and find other people’s stories. Show you’re interested in their difference, and they’ll be interested in yours.

Difference is richness. And essential for great relationships.