We need to break out of our echo chambers, listening only to ourselves and those who affirm us. I’m not talking about putting ourselves in situations where we’re walking into waters we have no business wading into, but we need to walk with people on the beach. We need to see people and interact with people instead of staying in our bubbles. (This is not a post about COVID precautions. Please consider what I’m saying as a simple visual example of how we engage with others or don’t for the right or wrong reasons.)
We need to engage in difficult conversations. We need to stop quickly sharing volatile posts or make broad-sweeping statements and assumptions and ask ourselves how we can express ourselves in ways that are not divisive. We need to invite conversations, not hold people at arm’s length. We need to stop thinking “it’s their problem if they don’t get it.” We need to try. And even if someone doesn’t “get it,” or agree with us, we have still extended a hand, listened with patience and compassion, modeled respect.
It makes me sad, and sometimes, I get angry. I know I can’t engage with everyone; some people won’t listen. But I try to stay attentive to God’s prompting. Even when it’s uncomfortable, knowing I’m potentially opening myself up to having my beliefs and values and intentions questioned. Even when it’s difficult, knowing I’m potentially pausing my response because it’s not my time and place to share. Even when I know engaging with others with humility, wisdom, and kindness is difficult.
It’s worth it. I grow. My faith deepens. My relationships widen. My beliefs become clearer.
Please step outside of your echo chamber today. We need to have authentic conversations with people that are less about proving a point and more about embracing and reflecting God’s character.