Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Love, Friendship, and Nerds

The common desire of humankind is to be loved, accepted, and respected. We want to be embraced for who we are without judgement.

That is what everyone wants. That is what God wants to give to the world. It all comes down to that.


I used to feel guilty in church. They always tell you to bring your friends. "Invite your not-church-attending friends to church. We'll make them feel loved. We'll enfold them into our family. Your job is to get them here, and we'll take over the rest."

I have never brought friends to church. Ever. For awhile I thought that made me a defective Christian. I tried to hide the fact. Truthfully, though, I never felt like inviting my friends to church.

It never felt right. What's the point? Invite them to church and...hope they stay forever? Convert them to be like me? I mess up all the time! I spent years trying to be perfect and not letting God touch the hurting parts of me. I don't want my friends to walk through that. If they were to get to know God, I hope they'd do it in their own way, taking the path of them-and-God, not the path of Liz-and-God.

The Great Commission is always used to justify invite-to-church practices, but Jesus didn't say, "Bring the world into your churches." He said, "Go out into all the world."

There's a reason for that. Everyone wants acceptance. They want to be loved where they are at. Love which depends on people entering a building or becoming friends with strangers doesn't meet our need. God wants people to feel loved wherever they are, outside the church.

You have a unique niche you fit into out there, beyond the walls of your church building. You have people with the same ticks, preferences, peeves, and worldview; people who get you and who will feel understood by you. Go make friends with them and be friends.

That might sound odd, coming from the woman who studied five languages, advocates diversity, and loves travelling and moving all over the country. But while I promote diversity, friends still need to have at least one thing in common. Friendship is always about something.

You become friends because you do the same work; have kids the same age; love the same TV shows; suffer from the same addictions; or you're both new and neither of you has anyone else. Whatever it is, you've got something to be friends over, something in common.

I find it hard to communicate with people who reference Friends and don't know about Doctor Who. It's like the language barrier in the Star Trek Next Generation episode "Darmok." Everything the aliens say references historical precedents of their people. The alien says, 'Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra,' referencing two men who helped each other defeat a common enemy and became friends. He's indicating he wants friendship, but Picard has no idea what the heck he's saying, because he doesn't have the common cultural understanding.

If you just nodded along to that illustration, it's because you and I have common culture.

All my good friends are creative, book- or movie-lovers, or delightfully nerdy in some way. Our common nerdiness not only gives us something to be friends over and something to talk about, it means that we understand each other. We know when laughter is humorous versus mocking. We know when to nod sympathetically versus give advice. We're far more able to love each other and be good friends and less likely to miscommunicate.

Those are my peeps. I love them just because. I don't have any get-them-into-church scheme up my sleeve. The love of friendship can't be contrived nor have an agenda; it just does.

You're made with a niche that you fit. Don't make it about bringing people to church; instead, go out and find your peeps. Someone's got to befriend the other weirdos like you.

Word count: 657.