As our conversation reached a natural break, all but one in the group headed home for the evening. As two of us remaining behind reviewed the discussion and how it had progressed, an observation was thrown out for consideration.
“Do you realize how strongly Sam (not his real name) respects and agrees with your view?”
Until that moment I had not considered the possibility. In my experience, my dialogue with Sam on a wide range of subjects was often intense and candid. While we often eventually found common ground, we rarely started with similar views. The time between differences and a shared viewpoint varied widely because our journey from starting at point A to reaching a consensus at point B was often bumpy and unpredictable. The fun part is the laughter with and at each other along the way.
As I have reflected on the new awareness, I realize that there are several valued friends in my life with views and opinions that are quite different to mine. One of the reasons we get along is our mutual respect, admiration, and a willingness to embrace what is best. Their willingness to reach across the divide between us and meet me where I am changes everything!
What if this model worked in every relationship?
The possibility leads me to the shared characteristics of the best examples in my life. Each has the following.
Unconditional acceptance. We are who we are. The willingness to be in relationship with and in our differences, is a choice. The choice by one side is never enough, it takes two.
Collaboration and dialogue while recognizing we are on different pages. Two aspects make this work – listening and a willingness to trust.
Celebrating when things work. We laugh, cry, and in the end, celebrate each step forward and milestone reached.
I am thankful for the individuals who are in my life. I am also “thanking you, God, out in the streets, singing your praises in town and country.” (Psalm 108.3) Each has and is making a difference in the quality of my life.