My brother and his friends are not like my friends and me.
In many ways.
If you met my brother and me you would have a hard time seeing the resemblance both outwardly and inwardly.
He’s tall and lean with blue eyes and olive skin.
I’m not-so-tall and not-so-lean with dark eyes and Casper-esque skin.
He’s numbers and math oriented, able to ace any math test without learning the material. A strategist by nature and charismatic. People are drawn to him.
I’d rather write a 10 page paper on why imaginary numbers are not applicable in any way to practical, daily knowledge than use them in a math problem. I’m an analyst by nature, always trying to figure out the how and why instead of planning out the next few steps. I tend to be more introverted (seriously) and often have to remind myself to talk to people around me.
We also live very different lives. He moved back to Chicago after college and has a solid group of friends. Him and ‘his boys’ are nearly inseparable during their free time. His apartment is where everyone comes to watch TV, play bags, and hang out. He’s near the top of his department at his job. He has roots set.
I’m a floater by nature…a nomad, if you will. I have several groups of friends and flit between them. I move often. I change jobs more than I’d like to admit. As it says on my Twitter bio, I’m learning how to set my soul roots in God alone and not in a town, person, or group here on earth.
I (usually) like the fact that my brother and I are so different. Sure we have disagreements and make different choices, but what siblings don’t?
Despite our differences, his friends have taught me a great lesson: that of acceptance. No, I didn’t learn this from Christian summer camp, Bible studies, or the Christian college I attended. I learned what unconditional acceptance is from secular, beer drinking, cigarette smoking, living life to the fullest group of guys my brother chose as his friends. For almost 10 years now, these guys have invited me to every outing they have while I’m visiting; done favors for me when I’m in a jam; asked me sincerely about my life, work and friends; and respected my decisions around them.
When we first met, it was not them who judged me because of my decisions; rather it was me, the self-righteous, ‘Christian’ who judged them for not living more holy lives. It was me who would not associate myself with them because they did things I did not agree with. During parties at our house, I would sit upstairs watching ‘Trading Spaces” by myself to show them how to make good choices. Every single time, for almost 2 years, my brother’s friend Jon would come up from the party and watch “Trading Spaces” with me. He chose to invest time in me. He wanted to make me comfortable so he took the time for me to get to know him. Another friend, Mike, once left a party early to drive me home at night because I have bad night vision. This past trip to Chicago, Steve got me a deal on a rental car because he works at Enterprise. Kloster always has a nice word for me and Higgins never fails to treat me like a sister. These guys never ask me to change who I am, but have always accepted me. My brother said his friends never have a bad thing to say about me. No matter what job I have, where I went to school, where I’m living, how my life is going, what choice I make or don’t make…they treat me the same.
This unconditional, not-based-on-performance acceptance has always left me challenged and relieved at the same time. I know I don’t show that level of acceptance with everyone I meet. I know I often raise my nose and turn my head at something with which I disagree. I know my compassion is often lacking. I live in black and white, right and wrong. These guys consistently force me to see the grey. They challenge my perspective of myself, my worldview, my impact, and my ‘bubble’. It has always surprised me that this group of guys has taught me an aspect of Christ that I haven’t really found anywhere else (at least not until after college). I needed this lesson in high school and college. To be most honest, I still need it.
I love that Christ teaches us in unexpected ways. He shows up in unlikely places all the time. He keeps me on my toes and for that I am grateful. I don’t want Him to be predictable. I want to always be searching for Him and see His fingerprints in illogical places.