Remember the days of the junior high lunchroom? The kids seemed to be divided at each table according to fashion, athletic involvement or degree of personal hygiene (that was me). And though we may have outlived the era of punks vs. jocks food fights from 80s movies, the truth is that many of us have maintained a similar idea about friendships as we move into adulthood. If we went back to the junior high lunchroom today, would we be very similar. Would we see all the hipsters sitting together, with white-collar professionals and new moms at their own tables?

It’s second nature to gravitate towards those who share the same passions and interests. We tend to click with people who are like us.

Take inventory of your circle of friends. Does everyone look, talk, and think like you?
The problem with friendships that shares the same interests can only take a friendship so far. They can even stop short at companionships of convenience that mask a lack of true intimacy. For intimacy, in fact, has less to do with shared interests and more to do with shared vulnerability, and above all, a commitment to growth. The best friendships are born from a desire to engage at a deeper level … to challenge one another, to grow individually and as a group, and to be willing to learn from one another.

It’s beautiful, but certainly hard. And it means that if we want to break our standard bubble to seek deeper opportunities, we’re going to have to be intentional about it.

Take inventory of your inner circle. Does everyone look, talk, and think like you? If so, maybe it’s time to branch out. There’s no formula for creating community, but there are few kinds of friendships you might be missing in your life—and that you might want to pursue.

Here are some ideas we should consider:

  • Friendship with Someone Who is Older, and Wiser, Than You
  • Friendship with Someone Younger than You
  • Friendship with Someone Who has a Different Home Culture than You (maybe a Brazilian) 🙂
  • Friendship with Someone Who has a Different Worldview
  • Friendship with Someone Who is Next Door

While there are many benefits to diversifying our friendships, the ultimate reason is that it teaches us to love others like Jesus did, unconditionally and indiscriminately. And when we love others not as “projects” or potential converts or friends in high places, but truly with the love of Jesus, our circle of friends begins to look less like the cafeteria of our old days, and more like the Kingdom of God.

Gezer
gezerg@hannaford.org