Be open to conversations with people who think differently than you do.
Stand up and reach your hands as far above your head as you can – no, really, try it. Now, bend over and try to hold onto your feet. If you haven’t stretched in a while, that probably felt pretty refreshing. Stretching is an important part of life. Whether we’re talking about our bodies, our relationships or our souls, a little stretching every now and then is essential for health and growth.
Some of the most helpful and important activities we can do are also often the ones we must be deliberate about and force ourselves to do. You would think that we would naturally be drawn to behavior that serves our best interest, but if we aren’t picky and choosy about our actions we become the recipients of our easy, less-than-intentional decisions.
And here’s the thing, as much as many of us don’t routinely stretch our bodies, we’re even less inclined to do so in our relationships. Most of us don’t wake up in the morning and get excited about conversations with people who think differently than we do, who challenge our ideas or even disagree with decisions we’ve made. But if we only engage in conversations with people who think the same way we do and only pursue relationships with people we’re comfortable with, we’ll ultimately receive in our relationships and soul the same stagnation, discomfort and angst our bodies feel when we forget to stretch.
Stretching serves as an important litmus test in spirituality. How we react when we learn new things, are confronted with uncomfortable ideas or are opposed by others for our views can shed a lot of light on areas we need to further grow in and get better at as followers of Jesus.
This week, practice a rhythm of stretching in your relationships. Be open to conversations with people who think differently than you do. Pursue diversity in your life and look for opportunities to step out of your comfort zone to engage in relationships with new and different people.
It’s probably going to take intentional effort and it may not immediately feel comfortable, but keep at it and look forward to the changes that stretching can bring to your relationships and soul.