My senior year in high school I had two best friends. I met them the summer before my senior year and they had been friends with each other since elementary school. We did all kinds of crazy stuff together. At church camp we got our names put on the backs of our camp t-shirts. Kinda. Our last names were Grace, Hand, and Owen. So the backs of our shirts said Graceful, Handful, and Owenful. We thought we were so clever!
Up until 2002, I lived in somewhat of a bubble. I was raised Southern Baptist by awesome parents. I went to public schools my whole life, but I was somewhat naive when it came to other people. I think I assumed that most people’s families were similar to mine. I went to a Christian college where my bubble continued to envelope me. I got married right out of college and settled down to have kids. The bubble was ever present. Life in the bubble was comfortable. Easy. I did teach school for awhile and met a few people who lived life outside that bubble. I didn’t understand them, and they scared me. The few times my faith or sexuality was challenged, I wrapped myself tighter in that bubble. My world-view was small and safe.
In 2002, we moved overseas. I tried to carry my bubble with me. There were many, many people who were different than me, but I did find a rather large group of people who fit quite nicely into my bubble. But then something happened. I got tired of life completely in the bubble. I was meeting people outside of the bubble naturally, and I found myself challenged by our differences. They didn’t scare me. I wanted to understand them. I would take trips outside my bubble and every time I stepped back into the bubble, the fit was a little tighter. A little more uncomfortable. I was beginning to think like them.
After all this time blogging, I now know that I may not always agree with those I meet. My beliefs may be completely different from theirs. I may not always understand where they are coming from. But I can listen to them. I can love them. I can be their friend. And the great thing is I want to. I know I’ll never fit in that bubble again, but I’ve learned something about that place. It was a necessary part of the process of becoming me. I want to live a life full of compassion and love. For everyone. Those still inside their own bubbles and those who’ve managed to make it out.