Last week we went to a Smorgasbord. 200 feet of Pennsylvania Dutch Cooking. Imagine. We spent four hours there; reminiscing about 2014 and dreaming about 2015. It was fun. One course after another our memories unraveled like a tight ball of yarn - fully present and yet barely unpacked.
Towards the end of our evening I stood in the dessert section. Pies piled high. Ice Cream Sundae Bar. Puddings. Cookies. Cakes. Treats. The space was tightly packed with delighted eyes, eager hands, and full tummies giddy for more.
I struck up a conversation with the lady next to me. I was whining to her about my inability to choose a dessert. We related. She then raised her hand and her voice to the surrounding crowd, "Diet starts January 1st!" At her announcement the whole crowd seemed to unify with a delighted, "Here, here!" We all laughed and tumbled willingly into the permission she rendered us all to - eat more.
Old people. Young people. Big people. Little people. Dark people. Light people. Normal people. Weird people. Blatant people. Mysterious people. All these people at a Smorgasbord … unified inside this one women's remark. I marveled. Feet as diverse as they come, all touching common ground in full agreement about something. Pie.
Could it be that people are not as diverse as we think? What if humanity as a whole has a lot more in common with one another than we presume?
One of the best teachings I heard last year was about how Jesus was able to relate to those who were different than Him. Somehow Jesus was able to be fully present with people without compromising who He was or demanding they change before He was able to relate. This challenges me.
Of course you and I are friends. We think alike, look alike, act alike, value the same things, dislike the same things, and by and large share the same belief system. I know … we're really different, but honestly, we're also very much alike. And that's great.
But if that's the extent of my relationships is that not also the extent of my influence?
One of my goals in 2015 is to get better at relating to people who are different than I am; the spiritist in town, the retired women at Wendy's, the farmer's helping hand, the cashier at the Giant, the grumpy neighbor, the teller at the bank. I may not have much in common at first glance, but it could be as simple as a piece of pie that lands us in a shared space.
Consider joining me. Reaching beyond yourself relationally this year to those you wouldn't naturally relate to. Moving towards people when there's a choice. Making an unusual friend. It starts with a simple, "Hi."
I feel curious what will happen if we render our uniform lives to the diversity that surrounds us. I have a hunch that it will set the stage for the love of God to spread abroad, proving well worth it.
Katie Luse is a speaker and writer who is passionate about navigating life with eyes on a hunt for beauty.