Monday, December 12, 2011
This post was going to be about something else... Something I will no doubt publish, just not right this second. There is something more I want to discuss for now. Something God has laid on my heart that is more important.
If you have ever traveled, run a business, or been employed in the workforce, you know that there are some very different people out there, with as many differing opinions as there are unique faces. They have their own religions, their own political views, their own parenting styles. They are all different from you - and from me. No two of us, no matter how perfectly matched, are ever exactly the same in how we think or view our world. It is the dynamic that God created and it makes us the creature he treasures above all other things.
That's pretty incredible, isn't it? And we can all agree that it is so wonderful - as long as we are the ones that God is including in this "great to be different" set... Wonder what I mean by that? Well... Let me share something with you.
My very best friend is my husband, I think I have said that before. But it would be very unfair of me to expect him to meet all of my needs, so I have girlfriends as well. I have a girlfriend that I would consider to be a best friend. We have a lot in common, we have a wonderful time together and we also have differences that we celebrate as well. She is a linear thinker, I am a creative thinker. She is tall and thinly built, I am built like a fire plug. We have been friends now for about 13 years and we are both committed to the friendship in ways we never saw coming, but both of us recognize. We have held each other's hands through marital strife, parenting struggles and career changes. We know how to kick each other in the pants to straighten out wrong-thinking and we know when all that's needed is a listening ear and a glass of wine. We are also very aware that there is but one subject we do not discuss.
That subject would be politics. My friend and I are on polar opposite ends of the political spectrum and we know it about each other. We don't have the same outlook on taxes, educational funding and we don't belong to the same political party. We have agreed, somewhat silently, that we will not allow that part of our lives to color how we feel about the other and it is a subject best left undiscussed in order to keep peace in our relationship.
I have informed others around me that we have this arrangement and someone, very innocently, quipped, "You are a better friend than I could be. That would drive me crazy. I would have to convert them to my way of thinking or leave the friendship behind." That got me thinking... Of course I value the friendship more than my political bent, but am I doing myself a disservice by curtailing the conversation and ignoring the blaring differences we have between us? I had to really think about that. And I came to some conclusions.
First, I examined the places we are similar. We believe in Christ, that he is the risen Savior, that He is the only way to salvation and that without faith in Him we are without hope. That is more important to me than politics. It is one of the most important things for me in a best friend and confidant. I am friends with non-Christians, and close friends at that, but when I search for advice I have to rely heavily on those with experience in my faith as well as those with the same life experiences.
Secondly, we are told not to be divisive about things that don't matter in the realm of salvation. The Church is a huge entity and it is filled with many folks that don't think the same way my family does... Heck, certain parts of my family don't think like I do! So I think I have Biblical ground to say that on this issue I will blithely stick my head in the sand. It isn't something I see endangering her salvation, so I can let it go.
Thirdly, and most certainly not least, letting my friend have her own opinions about things that we differ on and not trying to make her think like me is a conscious act of submission to love my neighbor just as she is. I know that she is saved, that she is a believer, so really, there is no work for me to do there. When I feel her heart is wrong on things in her life, I call her on it. I don't have to make it about politics or anything other than behavior that Christ would not want from her. I expect the same from her. Should I have a wrong-hearted attitude about something, sans political bent, I would expect that she would let me know there was a problem.
We don't have to be political allies to be friends, at least not in my estimation. We only have to be kind to one another, trustworthy with each other's hearts and honest about our own faults before we point out anyone else's. I hope that that makes me a good friend. It might not make me a good Democrat or Republican, but then, that wasn't what I was looking for when I found her anyway...