What is most characteristically human about us is the tension between the desire to be “free”—self-identifying and self-choosing—and to be “related”—to love and to be loved. -Paul Tillich
Connection is a deep longing in all of our souls, and yet we don’t want to lose ourselves too much. Many Unitarian Universalists describe their churches as “a place I can be with like-minded people”—it’s an efficient shortcut to be together with others who are pretty much clones of the self.
Meet firstborn and secondborn, my sons. As a parent of identical twins, I can tell you that even if the other is truly your genetic clone, coming
from the same family, you still will not always get along. Even in the most healthy families, there are different ideas, different needs, and very rarely is it as peaceful as we would like to imagine.
Congregations are far more complicated family systems, with an amazing matrix of connection—near infinite opportunities for tangled snarls! When conflict comes, our logical minds react with incredulity- how can we possibly not agree on this? Isn’t this the place where we all love each other? Emotionally, we are hurt to the core, our limbic systems activated. Some in the system will do almost anything to relieve the pain and get back to harmony, while others will lash out.
So quickly we fall into the traps of triangulation often with the best of intentions—to fix things better! To make everyone happy! To make sure that our relationships (including both the physical cohorts and the shared values) are protected!
(I could go on. Pretty much forever. But instead, here’s an awesome video on self-differentiation. I watch it regularly, sort of like checking my smoke detectors or cleaning a lint filter.)