About the Author

Deidra is a national speaker and the author of Every Little Thing: Making a World of Difference Right Where You Are, and One: Unity in a Divided World. Follow Deidra on Instagram @deidrariggs

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  1. Deidre and Michelle,
    Thank you so much for this candid dialogue. How true that “We are enlarged by the people who are different from us.” I have friends of different color, faith, and ethnicity and I do think that naturally I shy away from the “awkward”. I need this reminder to press, not push through it. Awkwardness, at first, is not bad…it’s just a “slow speed” sign that says move lovingly and gracefully here. I also agree that building a relationship first is paramount. Establishing trust then gives us permission to ask the difficult questions. I know personally, my life is truly enriched, the more I engage and do life with people who are different from me. Ironically enough, when we press in to the differences we often find we have more things in common. Thanks for a much needed and beautifully offered post!
    Blessings to you both,
    Bev

    • I absolutely love what you say about the awkwardness of those initial conversations simply being a reminder to move a little more lovingly and gracefully, Bev – I hadn’t ever thought about it quite that way before, but it will help me be a little less afraid of that awkwardness next time I come face to face with it. Thank you!

  2. Love you both! What a treat to click over and see your smiling faces this morning. This is a beautiful tribute to true, deep friendship. I’ve been pondering lately my friendship with Jesus. I feel Him pressing and only passing when I am open. I’ve been praying He will help me be more open. Your description here made me smile and helped me understand. Thank you! Always a blessing to learn and grow with you two.

    • Hi Jenni, It’s been a delight to get to know you a bit better over these last few months. Thank you for your kind words, friend. And I really like what you are saying about your friendship with Jesus, and your prayer for openness. I tend to approach God and Jesus a little more formally (probably a product of my liturgical upbringing), and sometimes I an envious of those who seem to have such a close, open relationship with him. My prayer recently is a similiar one: Lord, help me to really know you.

  3. I am an Asian married to an American since June 2012. It has been a very challenging journey. When we were living in Chicago, there was no problem with building relationships because Chicago is a multi-ethnic society. We moved to Indiana in March 2013. That began my challenge. Seems like it is more difficult for Asians to mix around in predominantly white and black community compared to a multi-ethnic city like Chicago. Is that true?
    Then we moved to Kansas city, Missouri in Sept 2014, the challenge continues. I was in despair at one point but thank God who hears the cries of our hearts, intervened and brought me to a deeper intimacy in a seemingly isolated environment. I began to grow out of such deep loneliness. Now, I have found one friend who is a white American. She is different as she reaches out to people of all walks of life. It is a bug step for me. I am going to keep moving ahead. Your articles have greatly encouraged me to move on. Thank you!

    • I think your observations about parts of the Midwest are true. There is certainly much less ethnic diversity here in Lincoln, Nebraska than there is in Chicago or on either coast (I am originally from Massachusetts and Deidra has lived in Detroit and on the east coast as well). I was recently chatting with an Asian-American acquaintance here in Lincoln, who told me when she first went to college (here in Nebraska), her roommate admitted to her that she had never met an Asian or even an Asian American person before. I think there is just much less exposure to and connection with different ethnicities and cultures and therefore less comfort around reaching out to those who are different. There is familiarity and comfort in sameness, you know? Which doesn’t make it right of course, but does help me understand why people are sometimes reluctant to reach out to those who are different. I am heartened to hear that you are slowly but surely making friends, and I pray that others will reach out to connect with you in a meaningful way as you continue to grow your roots in Kansas City. Grace and peace to you on the journey, friend.

  4. Brilliant and wise, just like the two of you! Thanks so much for sharing this portrait of a friendship. I hope all of my friendships–cross-cultural and otherwise share the depth and richness of yours.

    • Thanks, Kimberly – you know how much D. and I both love you! Deidra has been hands-down the greatest blessing to come out of my move from Massachusetts to Nebraska (well, besides the fact that my relocation also played a large part in my reunion with God after a 20-year hiatus!).

  5. Deidre and Michelle, I so appreciate your post. It reminded me of a book that came out many years ago by Randy Alcorn, called Dominion. In the course of the story, two men, one who’s black and one who’s white explore the aspects of a cross-cultural friendship. Listening to that book (on CD) really challenged me to see life, our culture, relationships with different eyes. I have a lot to learn in this regard, but I so appreciate your vulnerability about how your friendship began and how it’s grown over years. Learning that you were each safe for the other to be real must have been pivotal in deepening your friendship.

    Thanks for the reminder to embrace all of the differences that make up a person’s story.

    Thanks also for the encouragement to push through the awkward. Awkwardness can make us worry about failing, in some way. But usually, if we press through, the blessings of authenticity follow.

    • Jeanne, I often quote a line in a book by Randy Alcorn. I always say it came from his book, Deadline. But, maybe it was Dominion? Was it about how race is like marinade for people of color, but a condiment for white people? I love that quote!

      Thanks for your words about the way awkwardness leads to authenticity. That’s such a great visual. It’s hard to remember there’s something on the other side of the awkwardness, and it’s usually worth pressing through to see it.

  6. Thank you for the candid insights; I so appreciated this! One of my closest friends is Hispanic…and I obviously am not. But one amazing thing I’ve noticed over the years is that I really don’t even notice our differences any more. I actually have to work to remember them so I’m not unintentionally thoughtless or offensive. But as you said, our friendship is also rooted in time spent getting to know each other well, so even if those awkward or thoughtless moments arise there is a host of grace as we seek to love each well. Friendship is always worth pushing through the awkward for!

    • It’s true that over time, the similarities outweigh the differences. And, friendship is definitely a great environment in which to grow our understanding of differences so that we can celebrate them in and with one another. The truth is, we all misspeak or find ourselves face-to-face with some idea we didn’t realize we held. Thankfully, grace and compassion have wide shoulders and can carry us through so much of our unintentional failings. When we can trust our friends with even our most uncomfortable attributes, that’s where we find space to grow the most.

  7. Deidre and Michelle,
    Great post on nurturing friendships of cross -culture! I am German, English, and Scottish by decent. I was born in Toledo, OH and have lived in southern. states most of my life. in 1995 we moved to upper E. TN (Johnson City/Bristol) from Tampa FL. Talk about culture shock! I came from an area with numerous black people to an area with almost none! For me making friends takes a lot of time. The way I go about it is to invest time and effort asking simple questions about family, and the basics. Then When I feel comfortable I probe a little deeper to get to know the “real authentic” you!
    My background includes 15 years working at a local university. You will certainly see a lot of diversity there. We had students from Asia, India, Egypt, Saudi Arabia to name a few. In dealing with them you just treat them as you want to be treated!!
    Blessings 🙂

  8. Yay! Two of my favorite people living life authentically, the way it should be done. Michelle and Deidra, thank you for your wise and loving words. When people dismiss color/race/ethnicity in relationships, it is a classic microagression, and it inadvertently creates distance born of discomfort. When we connect as people first, all of the other elements of who we are seem naturally to fall into line. This is absolutely a primer on being both brave and authentic. Amen!
    What would Jesus do? This.
    Love y’all,
    Chelle

  9. This honesty and love feels as if someone just opened a window in a stuffy room. Demographics here in Maine are pretty homogenous, so I’ve got miles to go and lots to learn, but I’m loving the conversation.

  10. I so admire the ways you unpacked this here. It’s hard work, the building of an authentic friendship, and yet it’s well worth it. I’m grateful that you have both “leaned in” and continue to lean in to each other. You each inspire me in different ways, and my life has been enriched by the perspectives you’ve generously shared online and in real life. Thanks for honestly sharing some of the risks you’ve taken–and the rewards you’ve gleaned–in pressing through the differences. Love you both!

    • Thank you, Ladies. I’ve always felt that cross cultural friendships can enrich us. I’m from the South, so that can still be difficult, but there’s something wonderful that happens when I’ve refused to let race keep me from befriending another.
      Many times, I’ve felt more accepted by sisters from other misters because I am not Basic Black.
      I love many different books, movies, music..etc.