Well-differentiated people know how to be themselves - hold onto their uniqueness as a person - while remaining connected to and loving their partner (or friend, or perceived enemy).
Poorly differentiated people tend to either fuse with their partner - that is, they tend to give up themselves and try to be what their partner wants (and it becomes difficult to see where one person begins and the other ends) or they end the relationship (the only way they know to hold onto their individuality).
As Dr. David Schnarch states in Passionate Marriage, “Giving up your individuality to be together is as defeating in the long run as giving up your relationship to maintain your individuality. Either way, you end up being less of a person with less of a relationship.”
My wife, Julia, in teaching about differentiation, would always bring two visual aids - apples and apple sauce.
“Fused couples are like apple sauce,” she would say. And I don’t remember what she would say about someone who had to leave to hold onto themselves. I think the idea was that the two apples couldn’t be in the same room anymore.
I would add, today, that there are many different kinds of apples: honey crisp, pink lady, fuji, gala, golden delicious, granny smith, red delicious, mcintosh (isn’t that also a raincoat and a computer?), etc.
In a healthy relationship, the two apples come in and out of contact and are sort of in orbit around each other, like an ellipse with two foci. They are not exactly two and not exactly one - and they create a third thing. And that third thing is their relationship.
I believe the issue of being differentiated - living in the tension of staying connected to another while being yourself - is at the very heart of relationship.
I think it can apply to groups, too. Since I have been at St. Luke's, I have heard some of you talk about the dynamic and some of the history and tension related to the two services. I know that the chapel was here many decades before “the big church” was built. I know that the church has the music and the chapel doesn’t. There are a few other distinctions, like the size and feel of the worship space, the time of the service, use of the Prayer Book, which service has the Sunday School, etc. I also know that there are amazing, wonderful, faithful, generous, serving people who attend each service. I also know that there are a couple of you who used to go to the chapel service who now attend regularly at 10:30, at least one of you who used to go to the big church who now worships regularly at the chapel, and Vestry members who on certain Sundays go to both. Imagine that!
And… you are one church - St. Luke’s. You don’t have to transition from two services to one and become fused. I think it’s probably a good idea to come together once in awhile, as you did the past two Sundays, to remind yourself that you have these two foci, and to simply get to know each other and affirm, “Yes, you are a very important part of the Body of Christ, and we are all in this together - we are all St. Luke’s!” And you might want to go to “the other service” now and then, not as a critical judge, but with an open mind, and see what you learn… see how the Spirit works on you!
You can be two well-differentiated groups, who add to the richness of what is St. Luke’s. And, I believe, both services can grow, because each one offers something a little different, and new people like to have options!