Without love, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13)
There really are no words to make all this better. I don’t have any answers. In fact, I’ve been speechless for the better part of the year. And, not all of it has to do with politics.
People say our country has been ripped in two.
Us Against Them – vs. – Them Against Us
But what about those of us who are neither “In Support Of” or “Against?”
Because, personally, that’s exactly where I find myself. Stuck in the middle, feeling incredibly sad and confused. None of this makes any sense to me. At all.
Of course I have my own personal convictions and standards by which I try to live by. There are certain things I believe are either right or wrong.
BUT, my #1 personal conviction that outranks them all? Well, that would be LOVE. Because, without love as a foundation, none of my actions or words mean anything.
So, what happens when my personal beliefs and convictions clash with yours? Well, I could choose the path many have chosen (and continue to choose.)
- Scream at you about how your religion, lifestyle, politics, or personal choices are wrong. (Would it cause you to change your mind?)
- Post my opinions all over social media and argue politics. (Would you reconsider your opinion?)
- Belittle your viewpoints and rant about how “right I am.” (Would you suddenly choose to agree with me?)
- Express my anger and fear through violence, attacking other humans and destroying property. (Would that cause you to see things my way?)
No. No. No. And definitely not.
Why? Because none of those options are rooted in love.
I’ve sat on the sidelines and watched both “sides” do all of those things. And worse. (I live in the Portland area, after all. Sigh.)
On a side note, there’s a question I’ve desperately been wanting to ask:
Despite how deeply convicted I might feel, are my opinions and convictions actually correct?!?
And, as scary as it is to ask, if my opinions and convictions are off, does that mean yours, therefore, are correct???
I’m just a person. Every day I make mistakes. Every day I learn something new.
My life experiences (and the grace of God) continue to refine who I am and the opinions I hold. What I believed to be true twenty years ago is vastly different from what I know today.
And, tomorrow? I’ll experience and learn even more.
The point is that not one of us on this planet has it all figured out.
We might read a Bible verse today and translate it to mean one thing. Tomorrow we might read it to mean something entirely different.
Because as humans we view life and “truth” through our unique lens of life.
I think if we’re all honest with each other, we can agree that our country is in a world of mess. And not just because of who is headed to the White House.
Our hearts are a wreck.
How do we move forward from this destructive place we all find ourselves in?
[WARNING: Here is where I do speak up and share my opinion…but just one. And, hopefully it won’t be (too) controversial.]
I wholeheartedly believe the very best thing we can do (right after praying) is to seriously consider closing our mouths and taking a deep breath. Then, maybe, we take a few more deep breaths.
Next? We open our ears and make a sincere effort to listen. Without judgment and without condemnation.
I can’t presume to know what is “right” for you. Nor can I understand what it’s like to walk in your shoes (or skin.)
But, I can ask.
And, I can stop spouting my opinions (and laying on the sarcasm) long enough to listen.
With a loving heart.
All this sharing of opinions–and judging other people’s opinions–is only causing greater disunity.
Please note, I’m not asking you to agree with “the other side.” Nor am I asking you to change your personal convictions.
I am, however, asking all of us to stop talking and start listening.
And, if we do choose to speak, perhaps we can challenge ourselves to use our voices to start asking questions. Questions that might help us understand and have compassion for those who are different from us. Because then we will be better able to love them for who they are, rather than who we think they are.
*** Isn’t that what we want others to do for us??? ***
SIDE NOTE: Compassion and understanding don’t have to equate to being in complete agreement with others. However, they are a whole lot more powerful than judgment and condemnation.
And, just a gentle reminder, not one of us had control over who we were born to be, or the lives we would be born into. Not one of us, therefore, has the right to decide we are superior to another. Or presume to know who a person is based upon what we think we see on the outside. (Nor do we have any idea how God truly views that person.)
We are all human beings. And, despite our personal beliefs, we are all standing on level ground.
So, great. We stop talking. We start listening. We consider asking questions. And, we do our best to understand where others are coming from.
Then, we LOVE.
And, we love BIG.
Because really? Love is the only One that has the power to heal hearts, to heal relationships and to heal our nation.
And truthfully, isn’t that what we all really want?
Photo Credit: Amy Jo Ivey / Seabrook, WA / July 2016