Tuesday, January 24, 2017

When We All Feel Misunderstood

I tried to stay out of this election on social media.  I read a lot and prayed a lot and discussed a lot with face-to-face friends, but I tried to stay out of the online discussion.

I knew that no matter what position I took--literally any position--I would offend some friends. In fact, I probably offended some people just by keeping my mouth shut.  This time around, there wasn't any middle ground where you could hang out and feel smugly comfortable.

And this week, because of the Women's March and the Roe v. Wade Anniversary, it's been all about abortion.  But before that it was refugees and race and transgenderism.  And it seems like whatever opinion you have, someone will tell you that you're wrong, even if they are nice about it.  There's just no general consensus about anything these days.  Even (especially?) among Christians.

I'm guessing everyone is feeling pretty battle weary right now.  I can tell because I keep seeing memes that say things like, "Can't we all just get along?"  All the arguing is exhausting, isn't it?


And yes, we can--and should--love each other.  There should be absolutely no place in public or private discussion for name-calling and shaming and just plain meanness.  The End.  Yet, does that mean that we stop the discussion altogether?  That in the name of "love" we just all keep our opinions to ourselves?

The thing is, that's just not the way it works.  If you think Trump is dangerous, then you can't help but speak up.  If you think he's awesome, then you feel compelled to defend him.  If you believe abortion is murder, then you need to say that loudly.  If you believe that abortion is an important woman's health issue, well, then you need to advocate for it.  Sometimes, speaking up is an expression of love.  For a lot of us, that's why we do it.  It's really not about needing to be right.

So how then do we disagree with each other productively?  I don't know.  I honestly don't know, and I would love to hear your thoughts.  Social media tends to be a terrible way to interact with people, yet it's the primary way these days that people communicate ideas that are important to them.  Through all the rabble and the screaming, I certainly have refined my thinking because of online articles and discussions.  So it's obviously not a complete waste of time.

I wonder, though, if people would benefit from more opportunities to discuss ideas away from their electronic devices.  Does politics ever get discussed at church?  In Bible studies?  Are God's people being trained in how to navigate all these difficult issues?  I've always said that I would be much more enthusiastic about women's Bible studies or retreats if they included discussions on politics, culture, and worldview.  But maybe that's just me.

I don't know the answer to this problem, which is destined to get worse as we navigate through an increasingly more virtual world.  But this is my piece of advice:  Explore your own worldview, be consistent with it, and know the worldview of the person you are talking to.  Every person has a worldview--whether they've thought about it or not.  If it's not a particular religion, then it's science, self-fulfillment, or some kind of mixture.  We all need to be confident of the underlying building blocks of what we believe, or there's no way we can defend it to others.  Understanding worldview is the key to figuring out what you believe and why, and how to start engaging the people around you.

Start with this super-easy, super-fast book (like, less than an hour), and give it to your friends who enjoy deep discussion.



And then read this one, because really and truly, every single Christian needs to read and understand the things in this book.  It doesn't tell you what to think, it teaches you how to think.  And if we can't do that, we're never going to have a prayer of figuring out all that's bombarding us.



I am confident that a lot of the things I write offend some of my readers.  Most of you are just too nice and too polite to disagree with me in a public forum.  So let me just assure you:  I love to discuss anything I've written about by email.  Please, please feel free to email me (everyoneneedsalittlegrace@gmail.com) with questions, concerns, disagreements, and corrections.  I love interacting with people through writing--especially when it's one-on-one and not the mess of Facebook.  I love robust discussion.  I learn from it, and I hope you can too.

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