I have been married for 20 years and 3 days. I have been shaped by my marriage in so many ways but the one that really stands out is: I don’t always have to be RIGHT. “Winning” an argument accomplishes nothing and only puts a wedge in the relationship. Have you been with couples who argue about everything? What they had for dinner last night or who the actor was in the movie they saw 14 years ago? You see it all the time and it is such wasted energy and completely unproductive. Why do they do it? I don’t really know- pride, boredom, and maybe insecurity?
In this world where politics and social issues are understandably “hot topics” I see so much bantering back and forth of opinions and “convictions” and often it only leaves others feeling like prisoners to the harsh words thrown at them. What if, before we spoke or wrote something, we considered who might be hearing it? Before we make blanket statements about prostitutes, illegal aliens, and addicts, we think about them as real people. Instead of throwing stones and political views we imagine what it would be like to be Venus, the stripper who was raped at 14 years old, had the baby, found herself homeless and was picked up by a guy who “said he loved her” and now she is working so he won’t kill her. Or Steve, the 30 year old heroin addict who was given his first joint at 12 years old by his drug dealer father and told “real men can handle it.” We don’t have to agree with the behavior but we also do not need to be self-righteous and judgmental. Everyone has a story. Instead of getting on the bandwagon of being right, what if we sat on the curb in front of McDonald’s and listened to David’s story? You know- the homeless guy who sips his 65 cent coffee and stares off in space…..instead of bashing the government for not doing enough, how about if you did something?
Then there are the issues that many of us face: how to birth our children, how to discipline them, what to feed them, how to educate them, how to talk to them about dating…..the list goes on. What if we did not need to be “right” about how we choose to handle these issues? When we talk, post, tweet or whatever we don’t know who we are reaching. And guess what? Your way is not the “right”way. I believe the Bible to be the true word of God and no where does He tell me if they should eat organic carrots or go to Christian school. We, as families, come up with what is the best for us as a unit. Amen to that. But when we broadcast that we have found THE Way we are being arrogant and prideful. Epidural or not epidural. Homeschool or public school. Breastfeed or formula. Gluten or no gluten. Does it really matter if I choose a different way than you do? Is that the dividing line between us?
There are so many jabs on social media about all these issues. But what if before we posted something, we thought to ourselves- I do not have all of this figured out and each person is just finding his or her way the best they can and God is not displeased that one mom breastfeeds and the other bottle feeds. Those are not eternal issues and they never will be.
I am not saying that we don’t have personal beliefs that we should live by. We do. We should. But are we arrogant about it? Do we have “hills we would die on” that are hardly worth it? Do we hurt those around us because we are so stubborn and insensitive?
A last issue that I have to address is how we talk about abortion. We all have a strong feeling about it one way or the other and we should. But how about before we make general statements and accusations we realize that there are many women out there suffering greatly because of a past decision to have an abortion? Before we throw daggers of hate, we just stop and pray for those women who have so much self-hatred for what they did. We need to think before we speak or write.
I am a recovering “I need to be right” individual. What I have learned to be true is this: we all have a story. What if we listened more and spoke less? What if we stopped drawing a line in the sand between how we do things differently than other people and how that makes us incompatible? It would change everything.