I've mentioned that the past year has been rough for many reasons. Over this year I've renewed old friendships and drifted away from others (and drifted back again). I've also had a lot of eye-opening and brain-exploding experiences.
I grew up in church. I had a few people in the rough high-school/young adult years that I would turn to for spiritual advice or questions when I didn't understand something I read. Over the past year - I've found that more than one of those people no longer attend church and struggle to even believe. This turned my world upside down. I didn't know what to think or what to feel. These people who were my "pillars" - no longer believed what they had for so long. Did it make me stop believing? No. But it has made for some great conversations!
On the opposite side, there have been a few people who were NOT raised in church and who used to scoff at the idea of religion of any form who are now attending church and having spiritual conversations with me. I think this is wonderful, but it is surreal to me.
It is ALL blowing my mind.
But then I realize how thankful I am that God has given me the gift of listening without judging. I didn't always have this gift - and sometimes still slip into wanting to close my mind to what I am hearing. But through all of these experiences, I have learned a lot about who I am. I LOVE having conversations with people. And it doesn't matter if we disagree - what matters is that we are willing to respect each others' opinions.
As a young child through a teenager - my Dad and I would always debate issues. Politics, religion, social issues . . . he always had a strong opinion - and many times, my opinion differed from his. We would have these great big conversations, arguing our points, disagreeing, but in the end - we never had hard feelings toward each other. We loved and respected each other and could laugh at agreeing to disagree. I wish that everyone could be like that. There would be a lot less tension and a lot more willingness to work together for the common good.
We all have to fight prejudice every day in some part of our lives. Often - we have to fight our own inner prejudices. I know I do. But I have realized one major thing . . . it doesn't matter if you agree with someone, their beliefs, their lifestyle, their religion . . . what matters is listening . . . respect . . . and LOVE. We are commanded to love ALL - not just those who share our beliefs.
So today - I am thankful for the great diversity of people in this world. I am thankful that God gave me the gift of listening, and that he gave us the Greatest Example of Love.
Be thankful for our differences today . . . and strive to listen without judging, and love with everything in your being.