President Trump. COVID19. Wearing masks (or not wearing them). Free speech. Racial tensions. Real news. Fake news. Vaccines or anti-vaccines. Government shutdown. How long? Still…???
There. Do you feel your blood pressure rising? Would it blow up the cuff? Are your opinions forming on the tip of your tongue? Is anger rising with your blood pressure? Chances are you DO feel the tension here. We all feel it. In this age of instant news, just about everything you hear has been spun in many different ways; add in your personal experiences, upbringing, current surroundings, and, well, it’s easy to see why the pressure in our country is rising.
For the people pleasers, the peacemakers, those who just want everyone to be happy and get along, discussions on any of the items above can make you feel crazy! For the person who just wants everyone to choose their way (or the highway) you, too, will feel crazy. For the person who wants to figure it all out, the task is overwhelming! Eventually, you will find yourself in one of the camps above. All of which leave you frustrated.
So how do we have discussions on today’s topics and walk away feeling validated and heard?
I find that it starts with me. I have to realize that not everyone will share my opinion. It’s not my job to make them join my camp. We can learn a lot from these discussions. I know, because I’ve learned a ton!
My husband and I have four adult children in their thirties. And being a 21st century family, we have a family chat group. In it we share pictures, exciting moments, stories … and we’ve been known to discuss some “hot topics”.
Now, realize with me — these four children were brought up by the same two people, in the same home and city for most of their lives. But I will tell you this, not only are they very different, they can have very different viewpoints! And we certainly don’t agree on everything.
I love the discussions that can result from some of our chats. At times, I find myself discussing an issue with one child separate from the family chat. And more than once, listening and further discussion has resulted in a deeper understanding for me. I’ve learned a lot from my kids. When they share a documentary, article or sermon, I pay attention. I try to read or listen to everything they send to me. If it’s important to them, it’s important to me. It gives me understanding. I get a picture of their world. God just may use it to convict me of an error in my thought process.
There are times, too, when I find I should keep my opinions to myself. It’s apparent the person isn’t open to hearing what I have to say. When I offer my opinion, I feel judgment and condemnation, and I find those discussions leave me feeling as if I should’ve kept my mouth shut. (God did give us two ears and one mouth for a reason!) Therefore, I’ve come up with these strategies. As in all things, I’m constantly learning, but this is what has helped me.
- Find your safe people. You’re not going to agree with everyone and they won’t agree with you. But if you leave the conversation feeling as if your opinion doesn’t count, if you get a feeling of judgement or condemnation, then that person is not a safe one for you to discuss this topic.
- In the same breath, am I being respectful? How does that person feel when they’re done talking to me? Be aware of how you are presenting yourself!
- Have a teachable heart. Always be open to what God is doing. Ask him to open your eyes, to test your heart. Does your belief align with Scripture? Does it align with God’s ways? He loves these discussions, too! He longs to converse with us, which leads to the next point . . .
- Pray. Talk to God about it. This is important to me because I want to live the life that he calls me to live first and foremost. Talking to God about the issue and having that teachable heart are pretty important on my list. As a Christian, we are called to holy living. There may come times when we must stand on truth … Is this debate one of those times? Does my opinion reflect the love of Christ?
- And last but not least, listen. Listen. Listen. Listen. Read what is shared. Be open to watch that sermon or documentary. Read the article. These little treasures hold much value. For in them, we are given a window into the hearts and beliefs of the other person. For a moment, you can experience a part of them. And THAT is valuable.
I’m not a professional. In fact, this has become a real struggle for me. I’m just sharing how I’m trying to handle all the chaos, opinions, and conversations that come with a global pandemic AND an election year.
But if we can seek wisdom like silver, and search for it as for hidden treasure, then we will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. THEN we will understand righteousness and justice and equity, for wisdom will come into our hearts, knowledge will be pleasant to our soul, and discretion will watch over us. (Proverbs 2:4-10, paraphrased)
We are in unprecedented times. Every day we learn something new that is affecting the way we live. But be wise! Be safe! And walk in God’s peace!
Cindy and her husband live in Blaine. She enjoys spending time with family, camping, writing, studying God’s Word, and being creative at her job as a high school data management secretary. She has a passion to see women grow in their faith and encourage each other.