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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

I Didn't Even Like Sara

Recently, and probably especially since it's an election year, I have run across a lot of quotes, memes, personal communications, etc. that seem to indicate that we should surround ourselves with people who think in exactly the same ways we do, because this is how to protect ourselves from being influenced by others.  This is how to prevent change.  If you're looking for a safe life, you might consider taking this advice.  I don't really do safe.

So, here's the deal.  As a general rule, I make friends and adversaries quickly.  It seems that I am a first impression kind of person, which is sort of sad, because I am also a little bit slow to warm.  On the rare chance that people give me a shot at a second or third impression, I do pretty well with that, but we live in an instant gratification world, so I have a few very good friends who, mercifully, loved me immediately, and then there are a whole lot of people who are OK with the fact that I mostly spend my life in chameleon mode (Can I blend in with that wall?  If I sit here, will I be invisible?  Oh crap...  I'm in my purple flower pants...).

Sara and I met over twenty years ago.  We never really liked each other.  The truth is, we never really knew each other.  But let's face it, after twenty years, the odds were definitely against us ever being friends.  Something like a zillion to none.

And then something weird happened...

A couple of years ago, Sara and I found ourselves in the same place at the same time, and we had a couple of civil exchanges.  It seemed groundbreaking to me.  I sent her a facebook friend request, because... you know... we had spoken words.  She accepted it.  I started to see tiny glimpses into her life.  She started to read this blog.  It occurred to us that we didn't have entirely polarized views on everything in the world.  We were sort of nice to each other.

I don't really understand what happened next, but before I knew it she was one of the half dozen people on the planet who might occasionally send me a text.  Her name started making the list of people to include in a group message when I was in crisis.  The facebook algorithm people started sticking her face in the "bestie" slot.  And in the middle of my soul care days in January she suggested that we make a trip to Disney World together.  I laughed.  Then I checked flight prices.

I never, ever thought we would be friends, but there we were on Splash Mountain...

You want to know this story.  Really, you do.

Sara and I do not agree on everything.  As an example, Sara thinks that when it is 70 degrees out, it feels like 5.  For whatever reason, she thinks this is a terrible time to ride something that might leave her cold and wet.  She might have called me an idiot as we got in line... and as I boarded the front row... and as we ascended the lift to the final drop.  Oh... wait... she didn't call me an idiot during that last part, because she was too busy praying to the animatronic vultures in hopes that the ride would shut down,  but I digress...  This unlikely friend of mine seriously took her sweatshirt off (I couldn't even figure out why she needed a sweatshirt...  I was dying of heat stroke in my cami), rolled it up, stuck it under one of her other many layers, and proceeded to talk to it throughout the entire ride, referring to it as "sweatshirt baby".  By the time she uttered the words, "This is the dumbest thing that has ever happened to me," I was laughing so hard I was crying, because honestly... being friends with Sara might actually be the dumbest thing that has ever happened to me!  And with that, I would like to encourage you to do dumb things.  Really.

John 13:35, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (NIV).

Love is not rational.  Friendship is risky.  I mean, she could have killed me in my sleep, this weekend (There was some brief reference to how she would probably go to Disney with a serial killer, but I'm trying not to be offended...).  But she didn't, and now I have a very good friend that I would have missed, completely, if I had insisted on a monochromatic life.    

Sara and I probably have much more common ground than we would have imagined.  We probably have much more common ground than anyone would have imagined.  In fact, we spent some time wondering what our mutual friends must be thinking as we posted pictures of our weekend trip.  There are probably some people who had jaw dropping moments.  There might be a few people who are wondering if they need to make a countermove, because, quite frankly, the two of us being friends might be a little bit frightening.  It shakes the status quo.  There is no telling what kind of trouble we might cause.  Seriously.

But here's the thing.  If you take a chance on being the kind of disciples who set aside non-essentials to love one another, good things begin to happen.  Heck, I even think I could set aside essentials in order to show love at this point.  It doesn't mean that you stop having convictions or opinions.  It means that you are kind even when you interact with people who are different than you.  Think on this.  There is probably no one in the entire world who agrees with you about everything.  If you're only willing to associate with people who are just like you, it's going to be a very lonely life.

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