A weekend a little over a month ago was amazing. All of my family was there. My nephew, my niece, brothers, sisters, parents, and pets. The last time we will be together for two years. And it was funny watching us all tell stories, ask questions, giggle, snack, and retreat into occasional moments of introversion.
I got to watch, multi-faceted relationships function all around me. I had my parents, and my nieces parents. There was my brother’s marriage without children, but with two dogs. My sister and I are both single children in different seasons of life. Then, we had grown sons and daughters. Brother sister. Friends related by marriage. Later in the weekend I also hung out with two of my friends, one who is married no children and one who will be married soon. Some of these individuals are from very nearby places. Others are from opposite cultures, or homelands on the other side of the planet.
But we are all communicating in almost the same language. With similar symbols and, as we are mostly the same family, we have shared experience to aid us in how we communicate.
In among all the similarities, there are also differences that could make certain conversations super hard. My brothers and I work radically different jobs. One, a designer, one, a social worker/ grief counsellor and I, a missional educator. But as soon as you bring up football, or food, or people – we are all on the same page. Conversation flows. My sisters – one a nursing manager over a hospital, one a primary school teacher, and one studying to be a lawyer, – but the differences are still able to be communicated through to unique friendship.
Patience, Laughter and Grace is needed, to take awkward conversations to deep and meaningful trust-filled friendships.
Sometimes I think it odd when Christians turn up to a social gathering and forget that trust needs to be built. And of course there are ways to build trust quickly. But it is a subtle art that takes years to perfect. It usually starts with the fine art of asking questions, and making people laugh.