As we struggled to get back to thriving during a relationally dry time a few years ago, I struck out with plough in hand to turn up some ground for new friendships. International playgroup was the ground and I was going to make some friends. Mom’s from around the world in various stages of survival or thriving gathered to talk while kids played. So many interesting people! Surely, a friendship could be borne.
Eventually, mom’s night out came around. I, of course, went and ended up sitting next to a woman who loved to pepper me with questions about what we did, how we did it, how we got paid, what our plans for the future were and so on. We’re not exactly forthcoming with all that information for some good reasons so to say I was uncomfortable is an understatement. She then proceeded to ridicule another family in the city for doing religious work. She did not know I did the same type of work. And, now, I did not want her to know. I really did not want her to know.
I shut down. Survival became my goal. Blend in to the group. Be just another mom living life overseas. Don’t stick out. Danger! It seemed an appropriate time to visit the lady’s room.
One friend who knew our more important work, observed the whole encounter. She observed my walls go up, my survival instincts kicking in. Later, as the cab dropped off first one and then another and another person until my friend and I were alone in the cab, she leaned forward and told me clearly she did not hold the views of this other woman. In fact, she respected what we did. I breathed. I’d found a friend.
I realized after a long while and am still reminded now that blending into the group does not lead to survival but slow death. It seems on the surface the right thing to do. Friends are lacking, so go make friends…but not at any cost. Never at the cost of who I am. That’s not survival and it doesn’t lead to thriving….it’s just the long road to a slow death. The wrong death.
The life Christ calls me to is so much more than blending in. In fact, it’s the opposite of blending in. It’s being willing to stand up knowing life as I know it probably won’t survive. As I think on it more releasing survival seems to be the first step on the path to thriving.