I love my kids. Each one of them is completely different. They are creative in their own right, each using their own medium of words, pencils, Legos or ponies. Our youngest will be heading to first grade next year, and Iris and I are honestly starting to mourn her not being at home as much or us not having our own special time with her as we take her to school later than the boys. They are different from each other. This also means that they are incredibly skilled at knowing exactly how to push each other’s buttons.
Inevitably this will result in at least one of them coming to us for support, help and probably most of all, retribution towards the offender. When Iris and I try to explain our point of view, a decision we’ve made or a punishment given, it seems we are constantly getting interrupted with a “but, but, but,” or a “you don’t understand.” They don’t really want to know why, they just want to be right. In other words, they don’t care to understand why we are making the decision we made, or pointing out the flaw in their argument, they don’t want to try to understand our point of view and thought process. They want to be right, that’s it.
Don’t we all?
I’d love to blame TV for this kind of thinking but I’m sure that’s not where it came from. Ya, we are all fallen people born into this world, and that has a part. Sadly, I’m fairly confident they learned this from me. I like to be right to! Shocking, I know, but I want to be understood without ever trying to understand what they, or anyone else is trying to say.
When I’ve seen this in kids and other adults -when they don’t try to understand the other person’s perspective or don’t try to understand where they are coming from- it leads to a mess of things. It leads to interruption of the other persons speaking, which leads to thinking less of them, which leads to dehumanizing them by name calling, belittling or dismissing what they say altogether. A total lack of maturity.
A few years ago, I was leading a team and brought in a team developer to get us to the next step of working together and being more intentional both individually and corporately. We created a set of operating principles/guidelines as to how we would treat each other during our meetings. This was partly due to many of us interrupting each other and/or speaking over each other while in a discussion, especially a heated one. I hope no one was keeping track as I think I may have been the worst offender of this. But it was helpful in giving us tools to begin to humanize and build each other up. It also helped me to see that I need to change how I interacted with my kids…to listen first. I’m not perfect and neither are they so it doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does, it has a great impact. Respecting. Humanizing. Giving the other person space in the present and engaging with them by listening is showing them that they are worthy. Just as you are worthy of life, breath and time.
There are a lot of “sides” in this world. It seems we are constantly a culture (especially in the Church in the States) of “Fors” and “Againsts,” a culture of “Pros” and “Antis.” I can understand and expect this in a culture or group of people that doesn’t hold to Jesus as Lord. But when I see it in the Church, the Bride of Christ, it causes me great pain. I’m 36 years old and have been through a few election cycles. It’s been 18 years since I have had the privilege and freedom to vote in my home country. It seems that with each cycle not only do the candidates act more like children it but also that the politics in our country continue to tear the Church apart. Instead of it being the Body of Christ, it is being torn into sides of every shape, size and order. These are the
years months I am incredibly thankful that I don’t live in my home country and that I only stream our favorite shows rather than watch all the many commercials on regular TV. It’s election time. It’s slander and demeaning time. It’s when adults who aspire to lead one of the most powerful countries in the world act like immature children pressing each other’s buttons, interrupting, dehumanizing.
And I hate it.
And it’s ugly.
But it is uglier when it turns into we. WE, WE are choosing to be ugly. We are choosing, by engaging in it, by choosing to engage in how the world acts, how the world treats each other. But we know we are not of this world, right? We have no place on this earth to call our home because this is not our home. So why do we engage in such behavior? Why do we champion those who act in such a manner? Why do we allow them, this behavior, this man made system to tear our God designed Church apart?
We are to seek first to understand before being understood. We are to listen, hear and empathize with those around us. We are to humanize them and allow them to share their humanity with us. Why? Because we are followers of Jesus. Because if we do that to even the least of men, we have done it to Christ.
My desire, my plea dear brother or sister of mine in faith in Christ, please stop allowing yourselves to get caught up in this. Not for my sake, but for yours. Not for my sake, but for those who are looking at you as you follow Christ and are watching to see if this Jesus fellow is really all He is said to be. Use the voice that God has given you to be edifiers, encouragers and blessers. The world is full of the opposite, but we are not of this world. We are not of this place. Let us live this way.