Dear 100 Hour Board,
How do you balance hanging out with friends from church and church friends without offending anyone? Let me explain. Im really good friends with some people in my ward to the point where theyre just friends that happened to go to my ward now. I hang out w these friends outside church activities, we visit each others homes, celebrate bdays together, our kids play together, etc. I dont see them as church friends, just friends. Then theres the group of church friends. We get along, hang out during activities, but we rarely hang out outside the church. Theres just people that you really connect with and some you dont.How do we keep the second group from feeling like theyre not being included when the first group hangs out together? I dont feel bad when i dont invite church friends to hang out with friends from work, but somehow it feels like youre made to feel guilty if you dont invite church friends to hang out with friends from church?
-My Name Here
If I understand the question correctly, this is something I have struggled with as well. I think others do feel the "otherness" and that is sad for me. I try to heal that in my interactions with them as much as possible. But I also remember they are as smart, funny, and sociable as I am and entirely capable of making friends that click. Frankly, they may also recognize the disconnect and don't feel left out at all.
I don't think you need to feel guilty about anything. We just connect better with some people than others. Not only that, you have compatible schedules and that is a huge blessing which can't be forced.
However, I think it is possible--likely even--that there are people within your reach who do need you. If you feel that too, pray about it. Heavenly Father knows who needs you, what kind of inclusion they need, and what you can do. Be open to inviting people to hang out with your group, but be aware that it might not even be what they need.
Some more specific suggestions:
1) Don't talk crap or gossip, even if the others aren't there. That stuff bleeds so easily into how people act and people can sense it.
2) Make it brilliantly obvious that you and your group love those people. Speak highly of them at church and in your group. Talk in your group about how you can help others in the ward.
3) Invest in the others individually. Sit with them at church. Make time for one-on-one invitations: lunch, a walk, family home evening.
You can still have your group. I think that's super normal and good. I think Heavenly Father arranges those groups all the time. But, like all blessings, He gives them so we can be better disciples. Use that strength and energy you get from your friend group and invest in someone who may need it.
I don't know if I'm right, and I worry all the time about who I might be forgetting at church. There are people I know I can't reach in the way they need and that straight up breaks my heart. There's a lot I can do better. But I think if I felt guilty about it, people I reach out to would feel that instead of love. Totally defeats the purpose. I try to focus on the gratitude I feel for my close friends, and the real feelings of admiration, concern, and love I have for those I am not currently close to.
Sounds like you're a good friend to many. Keep it up. Don't be afraid to lead the culture of your group in charity.