The deeper I dive into my faith, two things keep happening. One, I am introduced to others in the world who are on similar paths with equal or higher level of passion. These are people I can converse with for hours, get excited about and inspired by. I get thirsty to do life with these people I share common goals with, if I'm honest with myself, because it's easy. The other thing that happens is that I find a growing number of people around me who are not in the same boat as me. People who hold a different set of values and believe different things and live differently. Certain conversations with them could be a minefield, and walking alongside them in life stretches me in ways that only leaning my weight on God at the end of day can help.
Often I don't want to admit that engaging with both people is crucial for this life I'm pursuing to be attained. But how can I do living in the world and not being of it if I am too chicken to understand it all? How can I love my neighbour if I am too lazy to meet them?
I have had conversations with two women recently that are shaping my life. One is a 40 year old Muslim and the other is a 60-something year old Jew. They have opened my eyes to invisible realities, fierce love and obedience.
I think about when Jesus hung out with Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). He spent time with all the siblings in Bethany, drawing them all closer to Him regardless of what they brought to the table (maybe that's a literal statement). There was no "Hey Mary, wanna just meet at Starbucks this afternoon? Bring Lazarus but don't tell Martha, she's such a drag."
There is a valuable exchange that happens when I get brave and get face-to-face with people who aren't "my people", and this is why I myself have to work outside the home in this stage of my life. Right now I am forced by my employment to be stationed with a diverse group of individuals five days a week who I would never have known otherwise or had the courage to handpick myself. From them I learn about joys, pains and lessons beyond my own experience and exposure, painting a sharper picture of our collective humanity. In turn, I get the chance everyday to develop empathy, practice sharing my world views, ideas and love in a way unlike preaching-to-the-choir-because-you-know-they'll-clap could. It requires me to keep my eyes and ears wide open, and achieving a healthy balance between both types of relationship requires vigilance. It's difficult. But the race runs through the narrow gate, no?