Single people say it without shame. Married people think it in the middle of a fight.
“We’re not compatible”…followed by “Is it supposed to be this hard?”
“Define compatible” is typically my reply. I want to give her/him the benefit of the doubt. But most of the time, I know what they mean before they say it.
“He’s not my type.” “Our families are completely different.” “We can’t seem to communicate.”
I fear this is another area where we’ve exalted the god of comfort. Every person who has breathed in the air of America knows the lure of comfort. But maybe we aren’t as good as seeing it in this area.
The reality is, we are drawn to people like us. We understand them without any effort. We can serve them in a way that is meaningful without any effort. We hang out with friends clear across town because they “get” us…when we’ve been given the opportunity to develop deeper relationships with our fellow church member down the street.
It is clear that we value comfort over diversity. But we are not citizens of America (predominantly anyways), we are citizens of the kingdom of God. And this means a re-thinking, re-ordering, living a “the first will be last and the last will be first” kind of life. We are missing it.
I feel the liberty to speak into this specific area because I was a victim of it. And it almost cost be one of the most beautiful gifts God has given me.
When I met David, we instantly became friends. We talked about Guatemala, about Jesus, about theology, about “deeper things.” But when we started dating, the “real issues” (as I perceived them at the time) came to the surface. David didn’t look like a man I thought I would date (or marry): he was a firefighter. His family has experienced a lot of divorce. He grew up with his grandparents in a military town. He wears flip flops everywhere. He is an extrovert. He didn’t go to college. It is embarassing to me now…to look back at this list and realize that these things made us “incompatible” in my eyes.
So, I broke up with him. A lot. He hung in there, and he had a lot of people telling him to be done with me. On the one hand, I felt the Lord pulling me towards him, but I couldn’t shake the “incompatible” factor.
Friends, the “incompatibles” were difficult to work through. I’m not going to act like they weren’t. But what we have found on the other end is a push towards Christ-likeness that we would not have experienced otherwise. Like Christ in the incarnation, I have had to put myself in David’s shoes, approaching lightly with gentleness and humility…and listen. Try to understand where he has been. It has not been easy, but I am confident that this is right and good, because this is what Jesus was called to when he walked this earth. He was far from compatible with the ones he loved. Yet, he pushed through the barriers. And in this, we can see true love — a love that transcends compatibility, a love that transcends languages, cultures, preferences.
What I have found on the other end of embracing our incompatibility is an opportunity to speak of our incompatibility with God, yet his joyful embrace of us. We always joke about how neither of us would have even considered dating the other prior to when we met. But the Gospel brought us together – a driving force that drove Jesus to love the untouchable, the woman, the outcast. If he was culture-bound, he would have taken the route around Samaria — Jews (especially men!) were not “compatible” with Samaritans (especially women!). Yet, he set aside the temptation to bow down to the god of comfort and of appearance, choosing instead to bow down to His Father.
And we have been given the same privilege, the same joy, of embracing the “other,” forsaking our own comfort, and choosing instead to glorify the Father through the Son by the Spirit.