Today I was catching up on my Google Reader. I had over 1000 posts to look over. I usually skim through things, but there are always several that catch my eye. Donald Miller's blog always proves to be such a source of inspiration and catalyst for reflection and growth in my life. I've posted before about how much I respect his willingness to view Christianity from almost an outside perspective. He sees how people would have issues with it and isn't afraid to admit that and address those issues. He, like I, believe that the Bible can stand up to questions and uncertainties. Because of this, I find him to be incredibly authentic and when he does dive into the heart of his convictions and the message of the Bible, I find someone who can so articulately express its intelligence, grace and passion. The posts I was reading today were about the problem of black & white thinking and changing a negative character trait about yourself. They both really struck a chord with me.
After reading the black & white thinking post, I began thinking about me and my friends and family and different political or moral opinions that can many times cause tension or arguments. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a really hard time with self-righteous, arrogant political thinkers. I absolutely hate when people try to mix their religious beliefs with their political beliefs. This does not mean that I don't think people should use their religious beliefs to make decisions. It does mean that I have a hard time when someone acts like their political decisions are "Christian" and someone else's are not. I know strong Christians that I respect on all sides of the political spectrum. I value thoughtful and respectful opinions. If I know that someone has considered all sides, thought and prayed through their beliefs and come to a decision about something - political or not - then I respect that. This may mean they come down on a side that is not the same as mine, but the important thing is not that we agree. It is that we both thoughtfully came to our conclusion. I have friends and family that agree with me on many issues and friends and family that don't. I don't choose my friends based on how much they are like me. I choose my friends based on their own unique qualities and their own unique minds and hearts.
Unfortunately, I find myself bombarded at times with opinions I don't agree with from some people. And I also find that many times these opinions are voiced over & over again without any indication that they are interested in an alternative opinion or even hearing what mine may be. But this leads me to consider the other post by Donald Miller. A negative character trait of mine is that I have a tendency to have a hard time stepping back and letting go when someone has a personality that really grates with mine. This tends to happen more often with family than with friends. I choose to have people around me who are understanding and respectful. I don't enjoy fanatics and I don't enjoy arrogance. As I said above, this definitely doesn't mean that my friends and I all agree on every topic. Actually, I value having people around me who don't agree and who are willing to challenge me. Because of this, my opinions are subject to change if I am introduced to a counter-argument or more facts or information that change my thinking. This does not mean my convictions and beliefs are subject to change. I have convictions that will not be changed related to my faith in God and my choice to surrender my life to Christ. But political opinions are dynamic and change because new information is presented, new facts are available, new research, new candidates, new bills are introduced regularly. One year I may agree with a Democratic candidate and the next I may find that the Republican candidate is more in line with where I stand.
JI do find that sometimes with family, when there is a difference of opinion, it is harder to find a middle ground. This occurs with politics - Democrat or Republican (I am neither and I would venture to argue that most people fall somewhere in the middle). It occurs with my parenting choices - scheduling or not (we chose scheduling and will not be changing our minds). It occurs with various media decisions, personality traits, food choices, how we spend our money, etc. For me, it is very difficult for me to step back and say, "we are just different" when I don't believe they have taken time to listen to or understand where my opinion is coming from. I need to really work on this - as well as many other things. I've got a ways to go before becoming who I want to be. I hope to always present my opinion as one I have thoughtfully come to believe, but I am always open to counter arguments or facts that may contradict what I think. Maybe someone will present information I haven't considered yet. And I definitely will really pray and work on my tendency to push back against people who present fanatic arguments without considering other perspectives. Sometimes I have to just agree to disagree, even if they won't.
But one final statement - I do not believe that Facebook status is the proper place to repeatedly voice your political agenda. All your friends don't necessarily agree with you. I have not and will not post my feelings on health care on there. I may or may not be a fan, but it's really not anyone's business and being for or against the bill doesn't mean you are or are not a Christian.