Earlier this week I was sitting down with a good friend of mine, over good conversation whilst sipping our overly priced coffee house drinks. I’ve known this person for about 6 (ish) years now and we get together every once in awhile to catch up. The great thing is that no matter how much time has passed, we’re always able to pick up right where we left off. He’s one of the very few people that I know I can be myself around…completely. The good, bad and the ugly. I can vent, share my opinion on things, cuss (gasp!!), or tell a bad joke…whatever the case may be and I know there’s no judgement or shame. He’ll give his opinion as well and we tell each other the truth but I know it’s a safe place to do so. I also know that the conversation will be respectful. I don’t have to worry about being yelled at or unnecessarily criticized. The few things that we disagree on are done so respectfully and we don’t get mad at each other over it. Because we know we have far more in common than not. And that’s the stuff that, at the end of the day, really matters.
Unfortunately, this same respect, consideration and unity has become a rarity these days. Gone are the days where men and women would gather around a dinner table, or a fireplace over cigars and brandy, discussing hot topics such as religion and politics. Without getting heated themselves. Even if they did strongly disagree, they would still greet each other with civility.
I actually enjoy discussing these things as they naturally peak my interest. They always have. I like doing my own research on something rather than jumping on a popular band wagon with everyone else. Having a fact based conversation is far more healthy than just spewing rhetoric based on ones emotions or personal convenience or belief system. I have no problem having a conversation with anyone about anything of that nature. So long as it’s respectful and preferably face to face. It’s very difficult to get a sense of someones tone, body language and heart when you’re going back and forth on a computer. And honestly, I don’t know how anyone has the actual time to sit at their computer and argue with someone for hours on end. Seriously.
My social media platforms are politic and “religion” free for this reason. My platform is for my music and my writing, friends and family and anyone who wants to follow along on my journey, to read or listen to what I have to say. It’s a place to share my story. It’s a place of encouragement. It’s not a place for division, arguing or strife. Period. I am very intentional about that. And I’m a huge fan of the delete/block button if anyone violates that on any level.
I have come to really appreciate peace. And being around people and situations that make me feel that as well. Especially after the last few years. When you go through so much fighting and ugliness like I have, you avoid it at all costs. Nowadays, I intentionally try to avoid any kind of drama, fighting or anything that makes me feel anxious or uncomfortable. People or situations. I think it’s simply a natural reaction and has been a part of my healing process to want to retreat anytime something gets too “dramatic”, complicated or ugly. Have I taken it to the “extreme” and isolated myself at times? Perhaps. I can see that. And I’ve been slowly, over time, taking the steps to crawl out of that and learn a more healthy approach to acquiring Peace. One that doesn’t require becoming my own island. Learning to find that balance is the trick.
Living in this world today, you don’t have to go very far to find some form of ugliness or drama. It seems like it’s everywhere you turn. People are focusing so much on the things that divide them that they completely ignore what has the potential to unite them. Nobody knows how to sit down and have an honest, yet respectful conversation anymore. We listen to respond rather than to understand. We’ve lost the art of trying to place ourselves in someone else’s shoes so that we can try to see things from their perspective. To get a better understanding as to why things are the way they are. To look past the symptom so that we can focus on the cause and get to the root of the issue. Like any good “healer” would.
It’s disturbing to watch, especially over the last while, how humanity has chosen to treat each other. Pitting one against the other. The nitpicking. The gossip. The slander. The wounding words that are spoken. The violence. How did we get here?
I truly believe that God is heart broken and grieved by how we, His children, are behaving towards one another. His plan and intention for us is very different than what we have turned into. We have allowed selfishness, greed, fear and anger to have it’s way rather than the traits that God has for us. Remember those? “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22)
I believe it all comes down to something that is simple, in theory, but also difficult to execute at times, given our flawed human nature. Jesus says it best:
“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets” ~ Matthew 7:12
“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: Love your neighbour as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.”~ Mark 12:30-31
“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you…Do to others as you would like them to do to you…You must be compassionate, just as your Father (God) is compassionate,”~ Luke 6:27-36
“So now I am giving you a new commandment. Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”~ John 13:34-35
Imagine if every single person, you and I, applied this to our lives, how much different this world would be. Jesus knew this, which is why he talked about it so much and tried to make us understand how important it is. Not just to quote it, but to apply it and live it out. Are we all deeply flawed human beings that mess up on a regular basis? Yes! Are we always going to get it right? Not a chance! Which is why we need Jesus in the first place. He is our perfect example about how to go about loving one another. We simply follow Him and ask for His help on a daily basis to walk it out. And for the times when we don’t get it right, there is always His ‘Amazing Grace’. (Just like the song says.) And every day is always a brand new day to try again.
At the end of the day, we are better together. To find common ground. To intentionally begin with what unites us. Rather than focusing on what we may disagree on. If we all planted in the same good soil, imagine what would grow? What we could accomplish. We have to start somewhere. Why not there?