As far back as the Garden of Eden we have covered the areas in ourselves that are different from those around us. Those fig leaves weren't hanging off Adam and Eve's elbows. They hid from one another that which was different and revealed to one another that which was most similar. In many ways we continue to do the same. We hide from our current friends the areas where we feel dissimilar or deviant. In new friends, we seek out those who appear to be most like us. Single people begin to believe that their married friends no longer need or want them. Married people believe that their single friends are having more fun without them. Childless couples no longer have common ground with their friends who are now parenting and those who are divorced aren't sure which group they will find their solace. Young people tell themselves that older people don't have much use for them and older people believe we are bringing young people down. Variation in relationships requires explanation, acceptance, growth and compromise. Compromise requires effort. Relationships that equate with effort, we decide, are not worth our trouble. Differences make us too uncertain.
I have found that I sometimes use similarities as an excuse to be shallow or a reason to hide. I have found that hiding my differences is safe. It is; after all, going beyond the surface that can prove most wounding to any heart. Is is most freeing however, to be accepted in spite of those awkward and wonderful things that make us different. In a culture that attempts to dictate that our friends mimic our similarities, it would serve us well to tolerate, even celebrate differences. Although more risky, I find it rewarding. There is power in an acceptance that goes beyond our sameness. I have learned that the efforts of compromise and concession lead to the power of trust. To be tolerated is often the highest form of commitment. I have grown to appreciate the beauty of variation and the challenge of vulnerability. It is in the reception of our differences that we are certainly most loved.
Pondering how this friendship
had come to be.
Seemingly as different,
as the worlds from which we came.
We fumbled for words,
for roles and for reasons.
Years separated us,
differences mocked us.
Not expecting a response I asked,
"Why do you think we are friends?"
With certainty she looked me in the eye,
answering, "because God answers prayer."
Somehow in God's miraculous plan
He moved us past the differences.
Allowing us to be, In some small way,
an answer to each other's prayer.