We are all part of a community in some form. As wide as our nationality and ethnic background to as small as the company we keep. A community gives place for us for to feel valued, to be a part of something. The people in our community are relatable and gives place to have a listening ear. A community is defined in the Oxford dictionary as “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals”. The internet and social media have enabled extending our community to people we have never or probably ever meet. Nevertheless, we feel just as connected to them. The communities we are in greatly influences who we are or become. To that end, we can see the importance of the mindset of those we have in our community, especially within our closest circle.
INNER CIRCLE #Community
I am currently watching the series of Inner Circle by Transformation Church headed by Pastor Michael Todd. By the title, you can guess this series is about who is in your community. This raised a few questions for me. Does your inner circle of friends, those who really know you, have to be on the same wavelength as you, be it religion, race and even sexuality? Being a Christian is a very important part of my life. I have had to ask myself, how do I make sure that I surround myself with like-minded individuals? Those who will help me grow in my relationship with God, encourage me to pursue my dreams and correct me when I am wrong in love. In the same way, I am to not neglect the importance of building a rapport with those that are different from me in whatever respect. To remove any confusion, when I say like-minded, it does not equate to always being in agreement with me but the share of belief in God and Jesus Christ. Before you get your knot in a twist, this does not exclude those who do not uphold the same Christian belief as me. Not all of my closest my friends share my Christian faith. However, they are still able to support in their own way and respect my choices and vice versa.
Show me your friends and I will show you who you are.
As the saying goes, your inner circle of friends reflects who you are. This is something that I heard a lot growing up. As the world shift into the notion of self-care and self-love, more of us have become cautious of the company we keep. In one of Les Brown speeches, he states “if you hang around with nine broke friends, then you are or will eventually become the tenth broke friend. It seems that the world is trying to tell us that the company we keep will impact us in some way no matter strong or set we may be in our ways.
What does this famous Christian saying really mean? Oprah Winfrey talks about removing oneself from those that do not contribute to your growth. Most motivational visit this topic in 99% of their talks. As new as this seems to be, there is nothing new under the sun. In the book of Corinthians, Paul gives instruction to not participate in unequally yoked relationships. How many times has an adult felt the need to tell us to not mix with the wrong crowd? I have often been defensive as I felt my parents and the adults around me were being quite judgemental. They also needed to trust that they had raised me well enough for me to make good decisions for myself. I am not easily swayed by those around me. Thinking about this now I realise in some ways how immature I actually sound. Because most of the time, the influence occurs subconsciously, no matter how well nurtured you are. I invite you to pause here and reflect on this; has there been a point where your views and actions have changed about a particular idea you grew up with based on the people, movies, books or anything you interact with on a daily basis. If you answer is yes, did you notice when it happened? Was it sudden or a gradual change?
As important as I believe this to be, it is very easy to obtain a self-righteous aura or unintentionally make people feel excluded. It can become easy to be caught up in the same circle of friends because you share the same interest. I went through a stage where I was really caught up in the whole church vibe. For a while, I did not pass on invitations to a close friend of mine because I felt she may not feel necessarily comfortable within such programmes.But in doing so I took off her, the chance to make her own choice.
Love your Neighbour as Yourself
So when we come to the commandment of love your neighbour as yourself, do you wonder who your neighbour is? If not can you love someone fully but have distinguished beliefs about certain aspects of their life and vice versa? I like to think that it is possible. For example, I know my mother and I do not agree with everything but I do not doubt her love for me due to this. And no this is not justified because she is my mother. She does not have to love me. There is this concept of “if you do not fully accept someone for who they are then you cannot truly love them”. But I beg to differ. Love, Like and Infatuation should not be confused as one accord. For If that is so, then the question remains; do you accept anything and everything because it pleases the individual or can you be honest with yourself and the person about this difference? This difference I am referring to does not have to fit into the bracket of negative or positive; it can just be that; a difference! It could in mindset, raising kids, values, morals and the list goes on. Let us not forget that Honesty is the best policy in every case. The truth is brutal to hear and the delivery must be done in love. The intention must be genuine and for the best interest of the receiver. We should not compromise in friendship what would not be willing to compromise in a relationship. Let your Yes Be Yes and your No Be No.