In our lives there are different groups of people we associate with different things. Work colleagues, sports’ team-mates, church congregations, dance troupes, fellow theatrical performers, flatmates, family, walking buddies, chefs in the kitchen …the list is almost endless. One difficulty can be finding ways of productively bringing people from different groups together, into a space where everyone feels they have something to offer. It is possible, and doesn’t have to be a big event like a milestone birthday party or a wedding, but sometimes there does need to be intentionality. Meeting people where they are is good, and encouraging connection is good too.
Every Wednesday I attend a Life Group with people from our congregation at church. They have grown to become some of my best friends, and we spend time together on other days of the week sometimes too. When I initially started heading along, it was something I went to most Wednesdays, but if someone outside of the church congregation asked if I was available on a Wednesday sometimes I would say yes, and go to this thing instead. It was a one or the other type thing. And if I did say I was busy, seldom would I say where I was going, I would just offer the stock response, “Not this week, sorry, I have other plans.” Now, I let people know I am going to Life Group, sometimes referred to as Bible Study but it is more than this, and that comes with a sort of open invitation. An invitation to talk about it when I am talking to friends who seem interested in what going to Life Group means. It might open a conversation, which might not lead to joining two different social groups on a coming Wednesday, or it might not. One beautiful development is I now have no reticence about talking about Life Group with anyone I talk to.
Sports teams are another group we can fall into segmenting off from the rest of our lives. We attend practices and games, maybe after match functions and end of season get togethers, but if we didn’t work with some of our team-mates or weren’t friends with at least a few players before we joined the team, it might be just “sport time” rather than “time with friends which also happens to involve playing sport.” If we are making the effort to be on time, and getting what we need out of playing, there is nothing wrong with either approach, but we could be missing the chance for deeper connection. It can even be good to play on a team with people we met through the sport, because we are expanding our own social circles, and have different shared interests than with the people in our usual social circles.
I am not a person who enjoys preparing meals. I haven’t given myself a lot of practice cooking different things and my palate is not as refined as some to be able to distinguish the nuances between different flavours and textures of food. However, I love the social aspect, being able to invite friends over to share a meal, conversation, and maybe a boardgame before or after. So, this is one situation where I intentionally think about bringing friends together to hang out, be themselves, and enjoy the company of others, no matter which “spheres” we all come from.
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Do you find yourself thinking hard about which people to invite to certain events because of which groups they belong to?
Are there ways you can encourage friends from different groups to hang out, and get to know each other?
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Sometimes different parts of our lives are separate for healthy reasons. But, sometimes there are opportunities to open up about important parts of our lives with different friends, which might open doors – or windows – to beautiful connections.
Keep on keeping on being awesome.