Saturday, December 17, 2016

Love People Above Thoughts

I don't know about you - but there seems to be a lot of hurt and pain in the world. For me it became really evident after the US Elections. I felt hurt, I know people who voted for Trump were also hurting and put their hope in a man who said he saw that hurt and wanted to help.

But right now it seems like Trump just conned us all. He is looking out for himself and his interests and we just gave him the power to do that to a higher degree.

Before Christmas I tried to relate my thought process in a blog post titled "Open and Safe Town" but when I sat down today to start writing my follow up explanation posts about these places and how both can be unhealthy places to live I realized this metaphor was two sides of the same coin and I was basically making Open and Safe code words for Democrat and Republican but putting a Christian spin on it. As I finished one part of the post I thought, "I am being mean. I am trying to justify my way of thinking and bash on evangelical Christians and Republicans and validate that how I think is better." So I ended up deleting the post and the consecutive posts I had in draft form because I was being a hypocrite robed in self-affirming armor and frankly no one needs to hear me crowing at how right I am. Cause I'm not and I can admit that (sometimes it takes some reminding).

I think the reason I am so frustrated to see so little being done and so many rights being taken away from people all around me is because I was not raised to see problems this way.

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A few years back in my first year interning with Cru we shared with everyone in the YearOne team our "Life Egg" aka our Life Story. One of the sections of the story we were asked to write out "Family Rules". I had never even thought about what unspoken rules my family might have. There were never mottoes or sayings that we had in our family that implied any rule or norm in our family. After some thinking I realized one very important norm in my family that while never stated openly it was implied and still is whenever we have conversations that might not have everyone agreeing on one point of view.

That rule is: No matter what opinions are expressed on an issue (political, religious, cultural, etc.) we validate not only that person's opinion, but we love that person and what they believe. That every person at the table talking is important and valued above whatever difference of opinion might arise. We can have a heated discussion and share our sides, but we know when we get up from the table to go on in life, we love each other above all else.

Now is this to say the members of my immediate family always take differing opinions on every topic? Not alwas, there were probably conversations where we were in agreement on, but actually there are a lot of things that our family slightly differs on person to person. I grew up knowing that my parents probably didn't vote for the same presidential candidate for almost every election - but my parents would not tell us who they voted for because they explained how it was a personal choice. I also think they did that because they didn't want us to blindly side with a parent's choice for president and not take time ourselves to make an informed decision. Over time we might have figured out if Dad voted for Candidate Y and Mom voted for Candidate Q but at that point we knew it wouldn't change our own views. It showed us that for my parents, they could have different views but they loved each other more than a presidential choice.

In college I remember being so frustrated because a sibling wasn't "on the same page" as I was on an issue and talking with my parents about it and my parents just shrugging and saying "well, that's okay that they think that way". I was so angry, I wanted my parents to be appalled because I thought this issue was so clear, it is about a basic human right and how dare that sibling not see it as such! But my parents, being wise people, showed me that it was just an issue and that each opinion expressed was valid but no more important than the relationship between us. And it was true, in time both our views on that topic have changed and I don't view them through the lens of what they believe, their belief is but one part of the whole person whom I love deeply.

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In an ideal world it would be great if everyone agreed on every issue. As humans I think we crave this, we have a desire to have everyone agree with what we think and believe. Because in some way that would validate our thoughts and beliefs as "right". But when in history has that happened? Sure it would be nice, but it would also make us all robotic like because we would only ever be agreeing with each other and approaching life all the exact same. Creativity might die because we wouldn't think outside of the box because we all would be okay being in the same box together.

I think now more than ever we have to realize that we are forever going to be diverse - God created us uniquely which means we will have unique thoughts and opinions and beliefs. There will be people who prefer turkey sandwiches over ham and vise versa. Is one better or worse? No! And we must expand this embracing of diversity to larger issues.

Sometimes we have to put aside our personal values/beliefs to allow for something to come along that could help others that may think differently. Trump's choices will likely not affect me as a white, heterosexual, middle class woman. I do not agree with much of anything that man believes but his choices won't impact my daily life too much. But Trump's goals/agenda are forcing diverse people to think and act in very limited ways. To throw people out who think differently or look different from me and that is not okay. Our political system right now is focused more on getting people to think "our way" than it is in figuring out how to better all peoples and allow them to think for themselves.

I don't know how we go about helping each other value the people above the opinions like my parents did - but if we don't, we are going to be hated by many because we have taken love out of the picture and the value of humans above thoughts. I found myself doing that with the posts I was going to create and realized that while my thoughts might be helpful to some, people around me are more important and I have to keep loving them no matter if they agree with me or not. Because my thoughts are not as important as the people around me and how they can enrich my life and even my thoughts.