Do you remember when we used to be able to have discussions that revealed differences of opinions and we could still walk away as friends?
The ability to reason with one another respectfully seems to be a thing of the past. I’m not sure that we can pinpoint one catalyst for this cultural shift, but it is one that deeply saddens me especially as I consider the world my kids are inheriting.
The isolation of 2020 was difficult, but now I find myself longing for the solitude and for a quieting of the cacophony of voices. Turns out that there were some positives to our forced sheltering-in-place. Everyone has an opinion on everything and if you aren’t loud or obnoxious about it then do you really care? As I’ve watched the hostility grow, I have found myself growing quieter and quieter. There is great wisdom in James 1:19 when he says, “Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” ESV
I value having friendships with others who disagree with me. Their voices cause me to pause and to reevaluate my own opinions. There has been a softening in my perspective through the years as a result of these friendships. It’s why I rarely enter into the political realm or talk about my opinions on issues.
It doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion, but it does mean that I would rather sit with you on Adirondack chairs by my favorite lake and have that talk with you in person.
I won’t call you a disgusting murderer if you are pro-choice and I won’t threaten to egg your house if you are pro-life (both of these are responses that friends of mine have received for sharing their beliefs).
I won’t write you off if you’re a registered Republican OR if you’re a registered Democrat. I know why you vote the way you do and I appreciate the way you have wrestled with the difficult choices we have faced in our country.
I get why hearing “All Lives Matter” makes you cringe and even seethe and I understand the reason why you can’t let go of this statement because if you believe that all of humanity was created in the image of God, how can you NOT say “All Lives Matter”?
There are so many other issues that have played into this great divide in our country, but as I watch things play out, I am convinced that we are less concerned with bridging this gap than we are are with winning the debate.
I love football. Anyone who knows me even a little knows this about me. When my team is playing, I cheer like crazy and I have been known to smack talk with friends. I have been gutted when my team has lost (and as an adult, I have had to temper my feelings knowing that I have four pairs of eyes watching my responses!).
When I consider the current values of our society, I can’t help but think that we have turned all things into a giant football game. Everyone is expected to pick a side and then to support their side with the same frenzy of a football fan. Trash talk is not only acceptable, it’s expected. You must celebrate your side with memes and social media posts aplenty. When your side wins, you are giddy with excitement. When your side loses, you find comfort in attacking and demeaning the opposition.
But this fight is not about a trivial football game. It’s a serious fight for a country that has thrived on its unity, but is now threatened by its own people.
And so, I find myself on the sidelines, not wanting to pick a side, because I long for peace and stability. If you were enjoying a cup of coffee with me, taking in the views of the water, the trees, the mountains with me, I would tell you that I have solidly decided that I am pro- Jesus. That’s it. I want to know him more and more and I desire for my responses to cultural issues to reflect his heart, not the opinion of the day. I believe that Jesus is the answer for all of the struggles that we face, but not in a hit you over the head until you believe kind of way, but in the “I have come that you might have life and have it to the full” kind of way (John 10:10).
Every opinion and stance you take, he understands. He knows your heart and the reasons why you feel the way you do. But if those values are not bringing you hope and joy and peace, might I suggest that you seek him too? He is the only thing that will not change. He will never leave you or forsake you. He holds all things together. He is always with you. His love for you will never fail. He will not write you off or cancel you.
There is great hope in this. I have found the sustaining love of Jesus to be the one constant in my life. He truly is an anchor for my soul. I hope you know this hope, this love, this security. If you don’t, there is always a seat open beside me. I’d love to have a chat.