Even growing up my two best friends were almost opposite of each other and different from me. I desired to be like each of them, never quite happy with me. I had good friends in high school, but we all went separate ways after graduation. But when I became a mom of school-age kids, I started developing good friendships. Friends that went deep with each other and were there for each other through the good and the bad. A few years and many chocolate cakes (my part in mourning and celebrating) into this process of journeying together, I realized how many differences there were between the women I called bosom buddies and myself. My closest friends and I have different views on some issues of life and faith life that I consider important.
If we are going to have meaningful, lasting relationships, we need to embrace the reality that our friends will/may have different views on a variety of issues.
- Even like-minded sisters in Christ will have very different views on the negotiable issues in life. (Read Romans 14)
- Our close friends may interpretate a section of Scripture very differently than we do.
- The way we raise our kids may look very different as we each try to accomplish the same thing—kids who love and live for God, are respectful, kind, pursuing all God put in their heart to do.
- Our friend may have other friends in another group that we aren’t part of.
Our differences, handled with respect and grace, help us to understand others better. They help us to see the world through another’s eyes. They challenge what we always believed to be true and make us dig into the Bible to see what it says and, many times, doesn’t say. They lead us to decide what’s really important to us and what’s just not that important. Our differences grow us as believers. Thus giving us a broader frame of reference to reach out to others who are different from us and don’t know Christ.
Before you dismiss or judge someone as not being enough like you to be your friend, take a breath and think about her as a person, a sister in Christ.
- Make you laugh?
- Warm your heart?
- Care about you?
- Honor your personal boundaries?
- Speak truth to you because she cares about you, not her agenda for you.
- Want to grow in her relationship with God, even if it doesn’t look the same on her?
- Keep your confidences and others’ confidences?
One thing I have loved about having friends different from me is the way they accept how different I am from them. They don’t judge me or try to change me. They join me in my journey to know God better, love Him more, and trust Him more fully. We pray for each other and our families and that somehow we will be, as my friend Crystal says, a“useable mess” for God.
If you think about it, Jesus offered such grace to us to accept us as His friends (John 15:13-15). And aren’t we so grateful He did! Let’s follow Christ’s example. Let’s accept our friends as they’re each on their different journeys and show the world what the love of Christ looks like in real life.
Brenda Garrison is an author and speaker who empowers women with the confidence to live their calling. Brenda is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ministry Leadership with a Concentration in Women’s Ministry at Moody Bible Institute. She and her husband, Gene, are the parents of three young adult daughters and live near Metamora, IL.