Finding Common Ground

People in this world are so focused on staying polarized by differences. Seek to find common ground as a way to unite.

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, getting wiser, or have experienced more and more of life. Or maybe I’m growing in kindness or love or compassion. No matter what the reason, recently I’ve noticed something pretty important:

When you care about another person, it’s vital to find common ground with each other.

This could involve a person you’ve just met but would like to get to know better. Or it might be necessary with a family member you’ve known for all of your life but it’s painfully obvious that you don’t share many common interests or beliefs.

Expanding Your Horizons

The thing is this: not everyone you spend time with will be your twin.

In fact, most likely the people you need to spend time with most likely are nothing like you. Since opposites often attract, you may even choose to spend much of your time with people who are very different from you.

It’s good to expand your horizons. It’s good to get to know people who are different from you. It’s good to interact with other personality types.

And sometimes, when you live with someone with a very different personality, finding ways to get along is essential.

The Four Temperaments

First identified by Hippocrates, people’s traits and tendencies naturally fall into one of four temperaments: choleric, melancholic, phlegmatic, and sanguine.

Interestingly enough, in my own family of four, each one of us has a different temperament. While it’s fascinating to witness four very different outlooks and opinions a daily basis, it’s also difficult when you know that your approach to life is very different than others in your home or family.

Because of my family members’ absolutely opposite approaches to life, behavior, and thought, as a loving wife and mom I’ve realized I need to be the bridge builder.

If God created each person in my family to be so different (and He did!), we have so much to learn from each other. But we also need to intentionally create times and spaces to appreciate and understand each other.

The same may be true for you and your family members and close friends.

Pursuing Common Interests

A few years ago my teenage son pointed out the fact that he and I didn’t have much in common. As a high energy, athletic boy who loved to be moving, moving, moving, he wasn’t fond of many of my favorite pastimes, like going thrift shopping or slowing down to enjoy amazing restaurants or coffee shops. I didn’t prioritize playing basketball or video games with him, and he didn’t want to cook with me or sit on the porch and visit.

Quickly I realized that I needed to find some sort of common interest and pursue that with him.

  • Because my son and I both love music, we’re able to connect over that commonality. He loves to play the guitar and I love to listen, so it’s a win-win. We also can both enjoy live music together.
  • For my quiet, artistic daughter, we appreciate museums, coffee shops, or ice cream parlors together, and we love to go shopping.
  • And not forgetting about my husband, we find time to go out for meals together, whether it’s an early breakfast date or occasional dinner. But we also enjoy taking walks together as a way to communicate and get our bodies moving.

By finding activities we enjoy doing together, I’m able to savor special times with each person in my family and strengthen our unique relationships.

Becoming All Things to All People

For other people, you may not want to invest hours into deep relationships. You may want to find common ground, but simply aren’t able to spend a lot of time doing so.

If this is the case, make the effort. Try to see what activities or topics or beliefs you have in common, and then accentuate those similarities.

  • If you root for the same sports team, talk about the players and current season.
  • If you share the same hobby, discuss it. Or, better yet, take some time to pursue your hobby together!
  • If you go to the same church, choose to attend an event together. Or, better yet, help out and serve together.

The important thing is to find your common ground and make the most of it.

In doing so, you’re echoing the same thought the Apostle Paul shared in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23:

Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

People in this world are so focused on staying polarized by differences. Seek to find the common ground as a way to unite. As a believer in Christ, strive to unify as a way to show the love of Christ and to win others to Christ.

In what ways do you try to find similarities or common ground with people who are different from you?

Images courtesy of Unsplash.
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