Cultivating friendship with people who think differently

Published on July 26, 2022

When we started attending our current church two years ago, my mother-in-law offered to drive me each Tuesday morning to the mom’s group at our church. We had just moved to a small community and I was a new stay-at-home mom. I lost dear friends when we left the province several months prior. I longed for friendship.

Each week, I lugged my eight-month-old son on one hip and my striped diaper bag on the other to drop him off in the church nursery. With my heart thumping like a rabbit’s foot against my chest, I’d creep into the big room (often late, because I had to pry myself away from my toddler) where the tables and chairs were set up in a U-shape. The room bubbled with laughter, chatter, and often the sugary smell of some kind of treat being warmed in the kitchen. 

I’d pull out my Bible and scan the room. My stomach felt too knotty to lead a conversation, so I’d scout for a cluster of moms already relaxed in light dialogue. We’d discuss the latest antics of our children (like leaving entire blocks of cheese in their underwear drawer) and our hatred for the cold, rainy weather. Once the group started, we’d listen to a song, review the chapter of the book we were reading together, and discuss the questions at the back. At the end, I’d smile, gather my bag, and meet the outstretched arms of my son in the nursery. On the drive home, I’d feel full from the chatter. But when Wednesday came, I would feel that aching and longing for community all over again. 

God formed me and knows me, and he knew I needed Michelle. Michelle laughs and engages with her friends, but she also searches for the quiet girl sitting alone. She can lead a conversation with a complete stranger (even someone who doesn’t speak her language). She asks questions to learn your heart and mind. And nearly every week, she stopped me to initiate a conversation with me. Then one day, she reached out and made plans to get together outside of church and our small group. “You’re new here, and I’d love to get to know you better,” she said to me.

Not long into our conversation, Michelle shared her intuition about me: She believed I loved theology and somehow (despite what little I contributed to the discussion each week) pegged my theological position. She wasn’t wrong. I laughed at her astounding instincts and we flowed into conversations about our longings for female friends who shared our passion for biblical literacy and theology. Nearing the end of our conversation, I leaned back in my chair and asked about her theological position (though I had a feeling she stood on the same ground as me). 

“I don’t really hold to one tradition,” she replied. “I think the answer is somewhere in the middle, and that’s where I land on most issues.”

I guess my intuition wasn’t as good as hers. 

We both hold fiercely to the essentials of the faith but we differ on some secondary and tertiary points. I’ve learned that whenever I ask Michelle what side she stands on, she truly does land square in the middle. Even on issues that I believed could only be A or B, she still shrugs her shoulders and replies, “I don’t hold to either side. I’m somewhere in-between.”

When I met Michelle, all my closest friends stood within the same theological tradition as me and we agreed on most other issues too. I knew I could complain to them when the other sides annoyed me. We could reassure each other that the opposing arguments were faulty. I could bolster my theological stances with their help. But how would this friendship look, especially if our shared passion was theology?

Michelle showed me how—as iron sharpens iron. 

Michelle has shaped me in ways no one else has. She’s taught me to never take myself too seriously when debating. She’s made me curious about what others believe and see that most positions are founded on hard-fought ground. Where I’m often raging, annoyed, and prideful, she’s shown me the humble way of Christ. She’s grounded me in the essentials even more than I was before. She’s shown me how to ask healthy questions and surety in non-primary issues. She’s helped me see that friendships don’t have to be formed in the same theological camps. Our friendship has reminded me of the valued contribution made by all my siblings in Christ towards the good of the gospel. 

While it’s great to have friends we agree with theologically and mentors who can teach us more about the historical faith we hold to, I’m learning that it’s important to make friends with those I disagree with. It’s important to learn from those with a different viewpoint than me. It’s not so I can be convinced to change positions, but so that I can grow in humility and understanding. It’s about seeing that there are solid-founded arguments on the other side—even if I still don’t agree with them. Where they are strong, I’m often weak. And as the true bride of Christ, we need one another.

I love Michelle, and I’m glad she took the time to draw out the quiet, lonely new girl. She’s the iron that’s constantly sharpening me. The unlikely friendship that changed me. 


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Lara d’Entremont

Lara d’Entremont is a wife, mother, writer, and biblical counsellor. She desires to stir women to love God with their minds and hearts by equipping them with practical theology. You can find more of her writing at https://laradentremont.com.

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