Hi, Friends! I have some things on my heart, and I wanted to write them down and get them sorted out a bit... (warning: I'm pretty sure that's code for "Prepare for a really long post")There's been lots of heated talk on social media recently... mainly in ALL CAPS and EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!! It would be so easy to jump into the fray, add my voice to the mess and make sure you all know WHAT I THINK ABOUT ALL OF THESE THINGS. But, experience is teaching me that all the CAPS and EXCLAMATION POINTS!!! are like snowflakes in my hot little hometown. They cause a public stir but evaporate before they can make any kind of impact.I had the gift of being locked in a conference setting out of town for most of last week with people of a variety of opinions and cultures. Part of our activities was to have small group discussions (this was all in the context of child care, not connected to current events even remotely) It was about that time that I kept hearing a little, faint whisper... "stop talking. don't interrupt. listen." So, I did. And you know what? I got to hear some extraordinary stories from incredible people. I heard about childhoods and families and struggles and journeys. It was beautiful.So, I listened some more.And then, I went into my hotel room and saw what was going down on social media.But I didn't have time to post, so I just listened.And then it was time to be back in classes all the live long day with spotty (at best) WiFi.So, I kept on listening.And then I came home. And then I was so in the habit of listening, I forgot to chime in with all my INFINITE WISDOM. I clicked on well-worded posts. I read them. I thought about them. I prayed about them. I listened again.And I listened some more.And while I was listening and praying and thinking, I realized something. I starting seeing things in a different way. And although my heart is much softer to the "other side," my theology didn't change. I was able to hear what people had to say, have compassion, love them more and hopefully better, adjust my attitude, rearrange some of my political opinions, and still hold on to my belief system. How crazy is that? The sand shifted, and God remained constant. I was able to change some of my thinking without giving up what is important to me.
My faith, closely examined, got stronger when I listened, not weaker. I gained more love and compassion and I lost some extra legalism and prejudice. In the quiet, I was able to formulate a position without getting angry.interesting.I once heard from someone I respect that conversations about these heartfelt topics are earned. They belong face-to-face between people who love one another, not blasted all over the internet and shouted in public forums. I think she is right about this. If I feel strongly enough that someone is on the wrong side, I should be equally (if not more) willing to sit down on a sofa with them as I am to write one of those ALL CAPS WITH EXCLAMATION POINTS!!! social media posts. So, what does this mean for me? It means that, going forward, you're not going to hear my opinions on current events in the format of quick social media posts, or "likes" or "shares" either. It means that I'm going to be more intentional about building relationships with people so that we can have hard conversations when necessary. I want someone to feel comfortable coming to me to discuss these things, even when they are sure I am wrong. I desire to be a girl who is compassionate and thoughtful and informed. I like the feeling of having a stronger faith that has been looked at closely and questioned seriously.I would like to be done with being a girl who is unapproachable, opinionated, scared, or unloving. I'm ready for a change. I hope you'll see it in me. And if you don't, I hope you'll tell me. In person. On the sofa. With a cup of tea. and maybe some chocolate.