I had an experience recently that really got me to thinking about what it means to have authentic dialogue. It seems that in today’s climate, many people feel led to share their thoughts with zeal; quantifying their opinions based on personal experience or on the information that they have read which validates their perspective. Often lacking, however, is the heart which chooses to hear the same of another.
While it is extremely valuable to have a solid foundation to your belief system, I would submit to you that it’s also worthwhile to have an open heart to new information. If our foundation is solid, it won’t be shaken, but should be strengthened as we learn and grow.
Interestingly, in this particular exchange, everyone agreed with the initial position, most responding with accusations of ignorance and political rhetoric, towards those of having a different position. Two people, myself included, shared personal experience and a more diplomatic point of view. (I do tend to be Switzerland by personality). In the end, the author disagreed with both the personal and medical experience shared by those proposing a different perspective (not arguing they were wrong, but merely expressing a lived experience).
Even though I still landed where they felt I should have, because I took a different route to get there, I was still wrong.
While I would love to tell you all the ways that such a situation disturbs me personally, I am wondering (because I have done it myself as well), what such a positioning does to the person holding strong to their unwillingness to open up their minds or hearts to new information that might stir some recalibration. As diverse as humans are, our God even more so, it is no small truth that every one of us has an individual journey to follow. To deny there might be more than one way to get to our destination is a serious misnomer.
The bible gives us a little view into how we can, and should, try to relate to one another, and to what He is doing in our lives. Just as we each have different personalities, tendencies, life experience, filters, sensitivities, weaknesses, strengths, preferences … So does God meet us right where we are; equipping us for what we, as individuals, need.
All things are lawful [that is, morally legitimate, permissible], but not all things are beneficial or advantageous. All things are lawful, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life]. – 1 Corinthians 10:23
I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 2Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. – 1 Timothy 2:1-4
…to submit to them and others like them who serve with such devotion. – 1 Corinthians 16:16
Respect, honor, and authentic community, begins with the understanding that 1. we are all intertwined, 2. everyone has something they can contribute, 3. there is often more than one way to arrive at an end goal. Effective communication, and growth, begins with the understanding that none of us has arrived, and that spirituality, life experience, and science can all work well together when we choose to work together.
Life is better collectively.
Wherever you find yourself today, consider the cost of refusing to listen. The only person truly losing, is you.