With our recent move, my husband and I are finding lots of ways that we are needing to adjust, change, or redo things we were pretty established in before our move. Information that our friend group in our previous location knew so well it didn’t even need to come up in conversation is now having to be re-shared. We’re still learning our way around our new apartment and community. We’re needing to adjust a bit to a new way of thinking, communicating, and living. (While it’s super nice to have the grocery store be 5 minutes away instead of an hour, it does actually require thinking differently about things.)
We are very blessed to already have established relationships in our new location. This wasn’t a sudden move nor was it one to an unknown place. We’ve spent the last two years preparing for this, but it still means we need to adjust. Suddenly we don’t have to fit every possible moment of socialization into one weekend that we possibly can. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of not socializing at all because we don’t have to be urgent about it.
And this morning that got me thinking about relationships in general. One of the blessings of relationship is the familiarity it provides. Even when we don’t have close relationships, we still have some sort of connection with people. If we go to the same coffee shop even once in a while, we become familiar with the baristas. If we go to the same grocery store, we become familiar with the workers. We may not even know their names, but we come to a point where we know their face and in that way we have some sort of relationship with them. The familiarity is comforting, especially when we are in a new place and everything is new. Even those of us who enjoy change seek pretty quickly to establish some sort of familiarity almost as soon as we get to a new place.
Those initial moments of recognition are what we can turn into relationships. It starts simply with actually saying hello and goes from there. Sometimes, it’s easy. They approach us. Or we’re in a situation where we have to talk (like working together). Or we’re already aware of a shared interest because of the context we are in. Sometimes, it’s really hard. We don’t speak the language. We are in a setting where it is pretty obvious we don’t have a whole lot in common. The shared awkward is sometimes the common ground we need, though, to establish a rapport.
When we let our relationships stay at the surface level of recognition because we aren’t willing to put effort into the digging deeper, we miss out on a level of familiarity that goes beyond knowing someone’s face. We would like to pretend we don’t need deep relationships, but in the hard moments of life when everything seems to be falling apart, it behooves us to be connected on such a level that we are able to transition right into our hurt without needing to build the foundation first. It’s not easy, but it is beneficial. And when we can benefit the other person in return, it brings great joy.