Circles

Since this blog has kind of (I wrote kinda in a story in 5th grade and a substitute teacher scratched it out in red pen and changed it to kind of.  I’m a little bit grateful, but still like kinda) Anyway – since this blog has kind of turned into things I’ve learned that have made my life better, here’s another thing I learned lately:

You’ve seen me write a few different times about what I’ve learned when it comes to relationships and people and connecting.  My life is exponentially better today than it was years ago; that’s largely due to the people I’ve invited in along the way.  I’ve connected in meaningful ways with people who are in different circles.  What I’ve noticed is that people in a circle tend to think like the people in their circle on major issues.  When I stay in my circle, I become part of groupthink and I surround myself with people who believe strongly that they are right.  When I am in one circle I find people who will agree with me, cosign on my bullshit even, and don't push me to think about what else is out there.  When I became intentional about engaging with different circles I found that other viewpoints do hold some weight.  I’ve found that there are other ways to view life and my way isn’t always right. 

I first noticed this years ago when nearly all my Facebook friends were teachers and Snyder had just taken office.  I would see post after post about Snyder ruining our lives with his “attacks on teachers.”  I will always support my teacher friends because I know they pour their heart and soul into their work, but that doesn’t mean their thoughts on the economy are the only right way.  When I engaged with friends who were part of a different circle I was able to see the other side of the same coin.  When I started doing life with new friends who were passionate about the issues in their circle, I could appreciate a bigger perspective.

I have friends who do art and I have friends who are passionate about spreadsheets.  I do life with people who volunteer with students at church, and I have friends who were burned by church and want nothing to do with it.  I have friends who spank their kids and friends who would never dream of it.  I eat meals with Trump supporters and Trump haters.  I have learned the value of listening for understanding with all my friends in all these different circles, and my life is much richer because of it.  I didn’t seek out these friends because I had an agenda.  I sought them because I wanted to genuinely connect with them, and that involves me being a part of their world. 

When I am secure enough in who I am to reach across to different circles and connect with the heart of others, I see more than one right way.  People want to be known and to know they matter.  I have worked hard in the friendships I have to know and love others. Period.  And in doing so, I have become known and know I matter to others as well.  Life is hard and messy and complicated.  Fear of judgment tells us to shut out the voices that are different.  I love Ann Voskamp’s quote, “We want a roadmap-God gives a relationship.” 

You want to know my secret to getting by?  I surround myself with relationships that challenge me, shape me, guide me, encourage me, and push me to take the next right step.  If all your relationships are a part of one circle, I’d encourage you to be brave enough see what else is out there.  Even when it’s awkward.  I’m a better person because of who I do life with.