After a marathon Zoom call with three friends, one sent a message reflecting on the impact of how we leave interactions: “If you leave an interaction loving God more, and wanting to draw nearer to Him—those are the kinds of friendships you should be investing in.” The four of us create a safe space for each other. We challenge each other with different experiences and backgrounds. We talk about some tough stuff. We also laugh a lot. We can’t connect very often, because it’s challenging to find a time that works for long conversations across four time zones. When we do, we sit back and relax, approach hot topics that stir our hearts and challenge our minds and faith. We wrestle through life. We share tough stuff. We don’t believe all the same things. God is challenging us as individuals, but he uses our differences to grow us.
When we leave the interaction, we are closer to him—whether it’s because we realize some gaps that need to be intentionally filled or we realize how much is falling away to clarify the essential core of our faith.
In today’s contentious environment, with people finding so many ways to distance others because of the various ways we feel about politics, health concerns, and many issues, we need to intentionally connect with people with the focus on how we leave each conversation. We can’t skim over the tough stuff. We can’t only hang out with people who agree with us. We can’t rant about our pet peeves without being willing to change—not just others but ourselves. We need to stop being so harsh because we’re too insecure to be vulnerable and consider perspectives outside our own.
If you have conversations with people you know well—even people you think are pretty much like you—and if you’re truly interested in inviting them to process and grow, you’ll pause and listen. You’ll make room for people. And you’ll become better because of it, not just because of where you end up but because of the process of humility. You will leave interactions in a way that keep the door open on the friendship and invite others to curiously seek truth, purpose, and faith. Instead of walking away, you will be helping others walk toward.
How well are we doing that with friends, coworkers, and family?